Planning the Perfect Central American Winter Getaway

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If you live in a climate where it gets cold in the winter, the yearly excitement of those first falling snowflakes quickly fades.  When you are scraping the ice off your car windshield or shoveling snow, you may often dream of warmer days and perhaps getting away to a tropical paradise.  Laying in the sun, on a white sandy beach, drinking a margarita, then taking swim in beautiful turquoise water may seem like a pipe dream. You may talk yourself out of it by saying it’s out of your price range or you don’t have time to go. But maybe it is not as far-fetched as you think. The US is just a short flight away from a lot of vacation hot-spots and inexpensive hidden gems in Central America. Here are a few tips to get quickly, safely and inexpensively to the perfect vacation spot.

Figure out where you want to go. If you have never been to Central America there are a lot of great places to go and lots to see. A great travel guide is Lonely Planet, who has a terrific website and paperback travel guides for every country and region of the world. Their guides feature verified reviews from real travels, as well as the work of professional writers who are highly familiar with the area they write about. They will not just give you ads like most sites, they tell you what there is interesting to see in any part of a country, even off the beaten path, along with information on restaurants, hotels and hostels including their prices. One of their guides are perfect for adventurous travelers. For example, Instead of staying at a $500 a night resort, you might choose to go to a small town to see some Mayan ruins. You could stand in a small town and know that 1 block to your left is a family run restaurant with legendary authentic food, that is frequented by locals and averages $2 per plate. And that two blocks to your right, is a clean, western style hotel with air conditioning and a friendly, English-speaking staff for $20 per night.

Check ahead for safety. Political and social conditions can change from year to year. Check the US State Department website for any travel warnings about political unrest or epidemics of disease. Also check that your passports are in order and you obtain any necessary visas.

Shop around for flights and deeply discounted packages. Use the comparative price search websites, such as Travelocity, and check out the travel deals on Groupon.com where you can often save as much as 75%.

Get ready for the sun. It’s winter and chances are your skin is not used to seeing the sun recently. No matter what your race or skin tone, bring sunscreen. But if you are light skinned, getting a bit of base tan before you leave could protect you from a serious burn. Consider a trip to a tanning salon or getting a protective airbrushed spray tan before you leave.  And while you are at it, you should find a new well-fitting swimsuit that will flatter your body-type. The hottest new swimwear for this year can already be found at Aerie.

Then just go. Leave your jealous friends and coworkers behind and go have a dream vacation. You deserve it!

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