10 Places to Go This Winter

If you weren’t able to take a vacation over the summer, it’s not too late. Getting away during the cold winter months may be just what you need to recharge your batteries. If you’re not sure where to go, we have some great suggestions for you below.

Do you think you’ll skip vacation entirely this year? That’s not a good idea. Leaving time on the table not only costs you money, but it can also put your health at risk.

Why You Need to Take a Vacation Every Year

Research shows that, when it comes to vacations, Americans and Canadians aren’t doing a very good job. According to a Travel Association survey, fewer than half of United States workers use all of their vacation days. Another survey by ADP Canada found that only one in three Canadian workers take their vacation time.

Some of the most commonly cited reasons for avoiding vacation include:

  • I’m afraid of looking replaceable
  • I want my boss to know I’m dedicated
  • I feel like the workload is too heavy to getaway
  • I don’t know of anyone else who can do the job while I’m gone
  • I don’t want to return to a mountain of work
  • I can’t afford a vacation

Employees also mentioned receiving either discouraging or mixed messages about taking time off from their bosses and colleagues, leaving them uncertain as to whether it would be OK to leave. Some knew outright that their bosses wouldn’t like it, so they didn’t do it.

Research shows, however, that vacations are good for us for several reasons like improving one’s mental and physical health, getting better sleep and improving a person’s life situation.

Improve Mental Health

As long as you can sufficiently unplug while you’re away, a vacation can help improve your mental health by reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. They allow you to leave your stressful environment behind, giving you time to relax in a place where you don’t have to live up to everyone’s expectations.

A Canadian study of more than 800 lawyers found that vacations reduced depression and buffered against job stress.

Improve Physical Health

Another excellent reason to take regular vacations is that they can improve your physical health. According to the famous Framingham Heart Study, vacations reduce your risk of heart disease. Besides, those who took more frequent vacations ended up living longer, healthier lives.

However, men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks.

Improve Productivity

The more you work without a break, the more fatigue you are likely to experience, which gradually leads to lower levels of productivity. Taking time off from work can make you more productive when you return.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive than those who spent more time working.

In another study, researchers found that employees who took vacations found their jobs less taxing than those who didn’t vacation. In other words, taking regular vacations makes you a more productive employee.

Helps You Sleep Better

Sleep is extremely important to our health. We all need seven or eight hours a night — taking regular vacations can help you reach that goal.

Restless nights and insomnia are often tied to anxiety and racing thoughts — we have too much on our minds. Going somewhere new can help disrupt these unhealthy patterns and give you a chance to start anew on getting a night of truly restorative sleep.

Over a period of days, you can relearn how to rest and relax so that, when you return, you’re more likely to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

May Help You Get Promoted

Though one of the biggest fears surrounding vacations is that it will make you look replaceable, studies have shown the opposite is true — those who take vacations are more likely to be promoted than those who don’t. They’re also more likely to get a raise.

In studies by Project Time Off, employees who forfeited their days off were less likely to be promoted and less likely to receive a raise than those who used all their paid time off.

Increases Life Satisfaction

At the end of the day, work isn’t all that matters. It’s important to get out and enjoy life. A study of over 3,000 Canadian workers found that taking more paid vacation days was linked with a higher level of both overall health and life satisfaction.

Time away improves work-life balance and helps us keep things in perspective. Better yet, vacations can create lasting memories that contribute to our overall sense of happiness and well-being.

10 Great Vacation Spots to Enjoy this Winter

Hopefully, you’re convinced now that you need a vacation this year. As to where to go, we have some great ideas for you below, but the important thing is to get away somewhere. Leave the stress behind and embrace a new location where you can explore, relax and enjoy being alive.

1.  If You Love the Snow …

If you’re itching to get onto the slopes, head out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There, you’ll have three choices: Jackson Hole Mountain, Snow King, and Grand Targhee resorts all offer breathtaking views and a myriad of runs and afterward, you can unwind in the heavenly Granite Hot Springs.

With miles of national forest in every direction, you can expect to run into some wildlife while touring around, particularly at the National Elk Refuge. Stay in one of the downtown hotels or choose a mountain cabin — the ideal place to unplug and getaway.

2. If You Want Sandy Beaches and Parties …

Head out to the Florida Keys. A string of tropical islands off the state’s southern tip, this area is great for those who want art galleries, water sports, and miles of beautiful beaches and sunsets. Choose from several resorts that offer a community feel or try a more economical lodging option on one of the more northern Keys like Marathon or Islamorada.

3. If You Want to Hike Among the Trees …

If you’re tired of concrete and traffic, make your reservations for Kauai, Hawaii. A true paradise island, Kauai has miles of lush green hills, towering cliffs, plunging waterfalls and bamboo forests perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

Take a helicopter tour of the Waimea Canyon or hike the rugged clifftops of the Kalalau Trail. Head to the coast and enjoy a sailboat ride and stay overnight at the little cottages at the South Shore resort community.

4. If You Like Wine, Eateries, and Shops …

Santa Barbara County in California is in the heart of wine country and offers more than two dozen tasting rooms on its Urban Wine Trail. Once you find your favorites, you can peruse the artsy “Funk Zone” area downtown that’s filled with eateries and shops, then wind down in the of the beachside hotels, like the recently renovated Montecito Inn or the elegant Biltmore Santa Barbara.

Should you go there during the holidays, expect a series of celebrations, including the holiday parade and the Harbor Boat Parade ― complete with fireworks.

5. If You Want to Try Your Luck …

Las Vegas is always a popular vacation destination, but its warm sun can be particularly welcome during the winter months. Here you’ll enjoy top-notch entertainment for a reasonable cost — the area is known as the best wintertime bargain in many social circles.

Try your luck at the gambling table, head out to see your favorite show, relax for an afternoon at the spa or enjoy all the other opportunities on the strip, like the gondola ride at the Venetian or the thrill rides at the Stratosphere.

6. If You Love Art and Music …

Austin, Texas, is famous for its live music scene, but it also has more to offer for a winter giveaway. You’ll find a little bit of country in the beautiful outdoor spaces, pleasant weather and fun activities on the Colorado River and a little bit city in the entertainment and nightlife.

See your favorite holiday show or ballet at the area theaters, gather at the downtown bazaars for unique handmade gifts or peruse the parks for live music, food trucks, and interactive experiences. If you arrive mid-to-late December, you may be able to see the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which is an art and music festival. However, there are other highlights as well like the Winter Wonderland at the Circuit, which provides a petting zoo, carnival rides, and live music.

7. If You Long for the Sun …

Phoenix and Scottsdale in Arizona can help boost your mood and energy during the winter months. The temperatures are just right at this time — warm but not too hot — and the sun shines almost every day. In fact, the Greater Phoenix area is now called the “Valley of the Sun.”

You can walk the trails through the desert and pick out all the varieties of cactus, visit the Desert Botanical Garden, which is open year-round or stroll the streets of Old Town Scottsdale, which will take you back in time while you enjoy a relaxing day of shopping and dining.

Golf players love this area as well, which boasts more than 200 golf courses. Music lovers should head out to see the Musical Instrument Museum. The largest museum of its type in the world, it boasts a collection of more than 15,000 musical instruments and associated objects from nearly 200 countries and territories.

8. If You Long to Walk Among the Mountains …

St. George, Utah, features downtown museums, galleries and restaurants, butits biggest source of pride is the Zion National Park. It’s open all year round and gives you a great opportunity to leave the snow behind and hike or mountain bike the desert trails.

Do some traditional camping, try out the luxury glamping tents at Under Campus Zion or reserve your spot at the Zion Lodge. In addition to hiking, you can try horseback riding, fly fishing, rock climbing or book a helicopter or Jeep tour.

9. If You Want to Immerse Yourself in Winter …

Anchorage, Alaska, comes to life during the winter months. Here, you’ll find festivals, ski races, dog sled tours, ice fishing and, if you’re lucky, a sighting of the northern lights. Keep your eyes peeled for moose — there are more than a thousand in Anchorage alone.

Take a day cruise from nearby Seward or Whittier to see and hear the glaciers or try a flight tour on one of Anchorage’s floatplanes. The Anchorage Museum features more than 20 exhibitions a year focusing on the history and culture of Alaska. When you get hungry, head to the Originale at the Metro Mall — it serves Italian fare in a cozy atmosphere.

10. If You Want a Little Bit of Everything …

Asheville, North Carolina, offers mild winters, but you can still find ski slopes nearby. Make everyone in the family happy here, where you’ll also find hiking trails that are accessible throughout the year. Explore downtown galleries and museums or walk the Asheville Urban Trail downtown while perusing the bronze sculptures depicting historical figures and events.

For something different, try the downtown Segway Tour, Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park or Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures. There are also a pinball museum and Earth science museum, so there are no worries about running out of things to do. Plus, you’ll be going in the offseason, which will help you avoid the crowds.

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