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11 Best Cheap Places to Travel in January

Written by Anietra Hamper
Aug 21, 2019

By the time January rolls around, most people are ready for a vacation, but since money is tight after the holidays, cheap places to visit in January are on the radar. The cheapest rates for airfare and hotels in January (up to 50 percent off in some locations) will often be in the colder destinations during their low season. But off-season rates are not the only benefit to traveling in January. You will also have more flight options, less crowds, and shorter lines for attractions, which means you can fit in more things to do during your time in the destination.

While winter is the high season in places like the Caribbean or Mexico, you can still find great vacation deals to these locations if you wait until after the second week in January, when the New Year's crowds head out, and prices begin to decline in the second half of the month. If you can couple that timing with an all-inclusive resort, then you can score a relatively cheap vacation during an otherwise more expensive time of the year in these preferred winter destinations.

Find out where to go for a midwinter bargain to brush off the January blues with our list of the best cheap places to travel in January.

1. San Diego, California

San Diego skyline at sunset

A visit to San Diego, California in January can cost nearly 40 percent less for hotels and pull up discounted rates on flights compared to other times of the year. What also makes San Diego an attractive vacation destination for midwinter is that its climate is fairly consistent throughout the year. With daily January temperatures hovering around 65°Fahrenheit, you can wear a T-shirt outside and still enjoy the ocean life that the city is known for, even in the middle of winter.

Soak up some Vitamin D along the 70 miles of coastline, and plan visits to the city's art galleries and local restaurants serving up Cali Baja cuisine. Walk some of the 1200 acres of Balboa Park, an urban park with lush gardens, museums, and the San Diego Zoo. You can take day trips to check out some of the trendy coastal neighborhoods like La Jolla and Coronado. For added savings, you can build your own CityPASS and add discounted tickets to attractions during your stay.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in San Diego: Best Areas & Hotels

2. Dublin, Ireland

Ha Penny Bridge, Dublin

One of the best times to visit Dublin, Ireland is during the off-season, when airfare and lodging rates plummet and there are almost no crowds in the popular tourist areas. When the tourist season begins to pick up in March, you can expect rates to hike along with the lines to see popular attractions like St. Patrick's Cathedral. The mild Dublin temperatures will be cooler in January (averaging mid-40 degrees Fahrenheit) than in the summer, but they will make spending the days shopping at the Moore Street Market more tolerable than in the summer.

Pack a jacket and your passport and head out to take in Ireland's fun capital city. Save even more money by leaving your car at the hotel. Dublin is a walkable city, and the public bus system is a convenient way to get on and off at your destinations without having to drive. Visit some of the free attractions, like the National Gallery of Ireland museum and the Chester Beatty Library.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Dublin: Best Areas & Hotels

3. Cancun, Mexico

Aerial view of Cancun

If your plan is to head to a warm vacation spot in January then Cancun, Mexico can fulfill that wish. The white sands draw lots of tourists this time of year, so rates will not be super cheap, but the sheer volume of resorts and package rates available for the expected influx of tourists means that you can find deals that are a bit cheaper than other times of the year.

With average January high temperatures around 82 degrees Fahrenheit, you are almost guaranteed that every day will be a great beach day. Cancun can experience intermittent rain in January, but they are generally brief afternoon showers that do not last more than an hour.

To get the best deals in Cancun on hotels in January, plan your trip after the first week, when rates are lower. To save even more, you can stay in Playa del Carmen, which is an hour south of Cancun. It is a smaller tourist area but still lovely to visit, with less expensive hotels. You can plan day trips into Cancun to visit the Playa Tortugas beaches and take in the tourist attractions, like the Chichén-Itzá Mayan UNESCO World Heritage site.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cancun: Best Areas & Hotels

4. Barcelona, Spain

View of Barcelona from the Park Guell

One of the top reasons to visit Barcelona, Spain in January, besides the savings, is that you will see more of the city without the enormous crowds that can be almost unbearable during the high tourist season in the summer. It will be easier to get tickets to popular attractions like the Sagrada Familia, and fewer tourists means that the narrow streets around Las Ramblas will be easier to navigate. The midwinter savings at Barcelona hotels can be as much as 42 percent compared to high-season rates. Flights are cheaper, too.

January temperatures in Barcelona average highs around 56 degrees Fahrenheit, which is quite comfortable compared to the sweltering humid temperatures in the mid 80s in August.

Barcelona has the most tourist traffic of any city in Spain, so a midwinter vacation might be the most pleasant for both your patience and your pocketbook. You will have more time to explore the city's walkable sites, like the Park Güell, and enjoy a relaxing lunch at one of Barcelona's waterfront restaurants.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Barcelona: Best Areas & Hotels

5. Chicago, Illinois

Millenium Park, Chicago

While Chicago, Illinois may not be your first thought when considering January vacations, it is actually one of the cheapest times to go and experience the Windy City. The city will likely be snow-covered, but since many of its museums and attractions like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium are indoors, the weather is not an issue. One of the best reasons to go is the nearly 50-percent savings on hotel rooms and discounted airfares to Chicago at this time of year.

Shops along The Magnificent Mile are still open in the winter, and you might just find a clearance-rack parka to sport around town. January temperatures in Chicago average 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can take your savings and warm up with a famous Chicago deep-dish pizza.

Hop on the L train, Chicago's public transit system, to get from point A to point B, and hit some of the ethnic neighborhoods and downtown attractions. Check out the frozen Chicago cityscape from 103 floors above the city from the Willis Tower Skydeck.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Chicago: Best Areas & Hotels

6. Panama

Eco resort in Bocas del Toro

The Central American country of Panama is a January vacation waiting to happen. There are several cities that make nice options depending on whether you are looking for a beach getaway, an urban vacation, or an eco-friendly experience in a rustic village.

It is a less popular midwinter destination compared to Caribbean cities, which is why prices will be relatively lower for a warm-weather beach location. Flights are usually comparable to more popular January vacation spots, but once you get here, it is cheap. Hotels can average less than 50 USD per night, depending on where you stay.

The added benefit of Panama's less popular vacation reputation is that there are fewer people that will share the beach and turquoise waters with you. The average daily temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit will keep you close to the water, which is a great excuse to check out the Caribbean coast of Bocas del Toro or take a surfing lesson in one of the best surf areas in the country.

Adventure-seekers can settle in the mountain village of Boquete for natural forests and archaeological finds. One of the top cities, and still a bargain in January, is Panama City, with Spanish architecture, plazas, and an active city scene.

Accommodation: Best Hotels in Panama City

7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Palm-lined beach in Punta Cana

The Dominican Republic in general is a less expensive destination compared to other Caribbean Islands, and since there are many large beach hotels in Punta Cana, it is easy to find great rates in January. There are a number of all-inclusive resorts that will cut costs even more, and since it is one of the more popular cities in the Dominican Republic, you will be able to find plenty of flight options and deals this time of year. This is an ideal getaway if you want to stay close to the resort and have all of your activities and costs packaged.

The average temperatures in Punta Cana in January hover around 82 degrees Fahrenheit, making this beach town more appealing. While the sand and beach are the main attractions in Punta Cana, boat tours are especially popular.

For a less crowded and even cheaper Dominican Republic getaway, you can consider Puerto Plata just east of Punta Cana. It also offers many all-inclusive resorts, but additional off-site activities, like a historic downtown and trails to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, offer a break from the beach.

Accommodation: Top-Rated Family Resorts in the Dominican Republic

8. London, England

Big Ben, London

The trade-off for London's chilly winter is a significant drop in prices to get here and stay, compared to late spring and summer, when the tourist season is at its peak. As one of the top destinations to travel to in the world, London attracts many tourists at any time of the year, but visiting the city just after the holiday season and before spring has several advantages: The average temperature in London in January is 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and with rainfall common throughout the year, you will want to pack an umbrella and rain jacket.

A winter visit means you can pack in more sightseeing, since the crowds are smaller at attractions like the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye observation wheel. With your savings on flights and hotels to London, you have more to spend at the Portobello Market, a 150-year-old market with street vendors selling everything from antiques to local food, jewelry, and music.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in London: Best Areas & Hotels

9. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Rafting on the Martha Brae River

Montego Bay in Jamaica is one of the most affordable Caribbean destinations during the high season. What also makes it affordable is the number of flights going in and out, which means you are likely to find both a convenient flight and good rates. There are many all-inclusive resorts, which is also a factor in making Montego Bay a cheap January vacation destination.

With an average daily temperature of 84 degrees Fahrenheit in January, Montego Bay is ideal for some beach time but also for outdoor activities, like visiting Dunn's River Falls or rafting on the Martha Brae River. To check out other areas of the island, you can plan day trips or overnight trips to Negril or Kingston.

Accommodation: Best Hotels in Montego Bay

10. Boston, Massachusetts

Downtown Boston at sunset

While Boston may not compare to a sun-soaked trip to Mexico in January, if you are strictly looking for a cheap getaway to change up the scene then it is worth consideration. If you can stand the cold, the more than 50-percent savings on hotel rates in January compared to high-season rates will make the trip worth it. The average 30-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures in Boston this time of year makes this a perfect getaway for indoor activities of which the city has no shortage.

Hit Boston's Theatre District to catch performances of traveling Broadway shows and local acting troops. Catch an indoor game with the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, or hit one of the 60 museums in the city, like the New England Aquarium, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Science. There are also winter-specific walking tours around Boston that will give you an entirely new perspective on one of America's most exciting cities.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Boston: Best Areas & Hotels

11. Nepal

Prayer flags in front of Mt. Everest

You can find great deals on travel to Nepal pretty much any time of the year, but if you are looking to find even steeper discounts, January is a good time to consider. The downside to the midwinter timing is that it is colder, and some of the higher passes of Langtang and Annapurna will likely be covered in snow, so trekking opportunities may be more limited. The upside is that there will be fewer crowds compared to the fall.

Though January is the coldest month of the year in Nepal, there is still plenty to do, like explore Kathmandu or visit the second largest city in the country, Patan. There are a number of tourist options to view the Himalayan mountains, from multi-day treks with a tour company to flying over the snow-capped mountains in an airplane.

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More Budget Travel Ideas: If you are on the lookout for other budget-minded vacation options, plan a holiday getaway with some cheap places to go in December or cheap Christmas holiday destinations. If you love the winter scene, and you are looking for great cheap ski vacations there are some nice options in Montana, Utah, and Oregon. If you are interested in cheap trips to Europe there are options in Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

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