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9 Insanely Affordable Winter Vacations for 2018-19

SmarterTravel

If you haven’t taken a look at SmarterTravel’s cheapest places to fly right now, you should. But getting a cheap flight only puts you halfway toward affordable. In that spirit, here are nine affordable winter vacation destinations that offer both cheap flights and good on-the-ground prices—plus plenty of fun activities and sights for 2018.

Nevada

According to KAYAK and CheapAir.com, Las Vegas is one of the cheapest places to fly this winter, with a median airfare of about $200 roundtrip; or head to Reno-Tahoe for about $300 roundtrip from most major U.S. cities.

Nevada is an affordable winter vacation spot that sees mild weather and offers a variety of activities, from casino-going to outdoor activities like hiking and skiing.

Where to Stay: Peppermill Resort offers prices as low as $80 per night in the winter, and has geothermally heated outdoor pools that are open year-round. The Peppermill and other resorts in the area also offer ski packages to North Lake Tahoe’s world-class ski mountains like Mt. Rose and Diamond Peak, including accommodations, shuttle service, ski rentals, and lift tickets all for prices about $280.

Asheville, North Carolina

With budget airlines expanding to the city, Asheville saw a 40 percent drop in airfares according to CheapOair. Enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains for great value into the early winter months of 2019.

Walk around the Art Deco downtown area, take a rooftop bar tour with amazing views, drink up at some of the city’s 33 breweries in the South Slop District, or even take a winter hike (here are five to choose from).

Where to Stay: The Cambria Hotel & Suites Downtown Asheville has a great location and options for larger groups. Winter rates start at $117 per night, and you can walk to 88 nearby attractions including award-winning restaurants and shops.

South America

Thanks to the recent expansion of LATM routes and service from the new airline GOL, convenient and cheaper flights to South America are more readily available.

Check out affordable Sao Paulo, head to Rio de Janeiro for the Carnaval season—flights are 24 percent cheaper compared to last winter—or check off a bucket-list destination like Patagonia, Bolivia’s Salt Flats, or the Inca Trail.

To ease your trip planning, book a group travel tour with an operator like Intrepid or G Adventures. Both companies are offering massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales (check them out here), which gives you even more of an excuse to go this winter. After all, it’s the continent’s summer season.

Warsaw, Poland

According to CheapOair, Poland and its capital Warsaw are cheapest to travel to in the winter, with early 2019 prices about $580 roundtrip.

Whether you’re looking to celebrate the holidays in Europe or experience a world-class European city on the cheap, Warsaw should be on the top of your list. Classic wintertime activities include ice skating in Old Town Square, strolling through the outdoor illumination exhibit, visiting The Royal Garden of Light, and soaking in the outdoor heated pools at Wodny Park.

Where to Stay: The trendy H15 Boutique hotel has rates starting at $116 per night and will put you right in the city center. Large rooms and apartment options make this a great location for groups or family stays, and guests love the breakfast and room design.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta tops KAYAK’s cheapest places to fly this winter, with flights as low as $100 roundtrip from major U.S. cities.

During winter, enjoy milder temperatures at endless outdoor parks including Centennial Olympic Park and the Botanical Garden; stroll neighborhoods like Little Five Points and Cabbagetown; and discover the emerging culinary scene at James-Beard-caliber restaurants.

Visit this winter to catch the Men’s NCAA Final Four, celebrate and volunteer on Martin Luther King Day in the hero’s birthplace, or travel for the holidays and see the city light up at the Callaway Gardens, Lake Lanier Islands, or Lenox Square.

Where to Stay: Nightly rates for the Hyatt House Atlanta/Downtown start at $169 per night in the winter. The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance to the aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center, and The World of Coca-Cola.

Southeast Asia

Laos and Cambodia have seen lower airfare this winter season with roundtrip prices below $1,000 roundtrip to the region for cities like Siem Reap. New service from Thai Airways connects you to cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Yangon (Mynamar), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) via Bangkok, so you can maximize your options.

The warm and dry high season in the region stretches from January to March, so you don’t have to worry about monsoons and other weather threats in winter.

Discover everything the region has to offer with group travel company Intrepid’s 9-day Cambodian Traveler trip, which starts at just $787; or Essential Vietnam, from $765 for 11-days.

Seattle, Washington

Getting to Seattle is inexpensive, with airfare prices in the winter months as low as $250 roundtrip from east coast locales like Boston and Baltimore, according to Airfarewatchdog.

Free holiday events include family-fun and shopping activities at Pike Place as well as Seattle Center Winterfest. New this year, Enchant Christmas comes to town with an illuminated maze, Christmas Market, skating rink, and more. Tickets start at $20.

Where to Stay: The Moore Hotel, near Pioneer Square, is $150 per night. Guests love the location and convenience of the attached restaurant, bar, and coffee shop, plus there’s a working, vintage theater in the same building that adds to its historical ambiance.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Snowbirds flock to Arizona as cold weather hits the northern parts of the U.S., and while many head to the Phoenix area for warmer weather, nearby Flagstaff delivers a pretty convincing winter experience, with averages of 100 inches of snow annually in the downtown area. I found fares from about $300 roundtrip for winter months from departure cities like Boston, Atlanta, Austin, and Chicago on Airfarewatchdog.

Winter hiking, brewery hopping, skiing, snowmobiling, stargazing—not  to mention its accessibility to the Grand Canyon about 80 miles away—are all great reasons to explore this lesser-known destination. To boot, winter is more affordable and the Grand Canyon is less crowded. Plus, there’s almost nowhere else in the world where you can see snow contrasting the area’s famous red rocks.

Where to Stay: The Weatherford is a historic hotel right in downtown offering winter rates that start at $115 per night. It’s a little quirky, but friendly and fun, with an attached pub and Wild-West feel.

Austria

With roundtrip flights from Boston, Chicago, and Baltimore to Vienna at near-historic lows—like $500 low, as found on Airfarewatchdog—this popular skiing country in Europe makes for a great affordable winter vacation this year.

Hit the slopes in the Austrian Alps with tour operator Contiki on the Austria Ski package, a weeklong ski trip starting at $685 (including accommodations, day trips, and most meals). Based in Hopfgarten, it’s the perfect base to explore the SkiWelt, Austria’s interconnected ski slope network.

The country embraces cold weather with famous Christmas Markets, ice skating rinks, roasted chestnut and potato wedge stalls, mulled wine, and the best opera season.

More from SmarterTravel:

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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