The transformative power of winter sun shouldnt be understated.
Think about it. Its the bleakest midwinter. The days are impossibly short. The cold is getting into your bones. Spring is literally a lifetime away.
What you need at this point is a break – a break from the dark mornings, the freezing rain, the manic, endless shopping.
You need a beach, you need sunshine, you need questionable cocktails – and you need it way more than you ever would in summer.
Saving your annual leave for a Christmas or New Years break could be the best decision you ever make – and it could do wonders for your mind, body and soul.
A week in the sun isnt going to cure your seasonal (or non-seasonal) depression. No ones suggesting that. But theres strong evidence that an intense blast of Vitamin D can help improve your mood, lower your blood pressure and even boost your immune system.
Thats music to our ears. With every other person in your office sniffling into tissues and getting sneezed on on your commute, winter is the perfect time to give your immune system a helping hand.
Lowering the old blood pressure is also good at this time of year. If youre worried about family feuds this Christmas, your drunk uncle will be much easier to handle if youre feeling totally zen.
Just take a deep breath and picture the beach.
Vitamin D is your friend. Maybe your best friend. And in winter you need to do everything in your power to get more of it – heading somewhere sunny will certainly help with this.
Make sure youre being sun-safe though. Slather on the sun cream and avoid the hottest times of the day – your sun-starved winter skin will be more prone to burning.
The run-up to Christmas is undoubtedly fun. Parties, drinks, wrapping presents, finding a tree – its exciting and gets us feeling all tingly and festive. But it can be a lot.
By mid-December youre probably suffering from party fatigue, stressing about finding the perfect presents and worrying if your paycheck will stretch to the end of the month.
And its pretty inescapable. Every group message, every advert on TV, every song on the radio reminds you of looming deadlines and things you need to add to your to-do list.
But getting on a plane and turning off your data is the perfect opt-out. Disconnect for a few days – focus on nothing but sun, sea and sand. When you get home youll be energised, ready to hit the shops and face the family on the big day.
When youre on the hunt for sunshine in winter, you have to look a bit further afield. Your go-to summer jaunt to Spain isnt going to cut it – not if you really want to feel the heat.
This opens up a world of new possibilities and forces you to consider different options, places that would never have occurred to you if Europe was still on the table.
Going further means a more expensive flight, so youll have to keep that in mind. But there are loads of places that are really affordable once you get there.
Take Sri Lanka for example – flights can sting you for around £600, but once youre there the food and apartment options are dirt cheap. You wouldnt need more than £300 for a 10-day trip. And it will be at least 30 degrees. Ideal.
Top tips for booking a winter sun holiday
We always advise to book early for any holiday, as clients will benefit from early booking discounts, low deposits and reduced prices. Especially for the busier winter sun destinations such as the Caribbean and Maldives.
If youre after a last-minute, late deal winter sun holiday, we advise to book now and travel mid- to the end of January, especially to the Canary Islands.
Last-minute deals are great, but you need to be completely flexible with your dates and avoid the half terms if you not travelling with children.
Jill Bentley, travel expert, Worldwide Escapes
The smug factor
Its a revelation to feel radiant, sunkissed and relaxed in the depths of winter. Dull, weather-beaten skin is transformed, outfits feel better, you ooze with a certain sun-drenched confidence – its a good look, and you cant help but feel smug.
If you wait until January, the smugness is intensified.
January sucks, no ones drinking, everyones skint, its cold in a non-festive kind of way. Sack off the dreariness for a sunlit adventure and lord it over your gloomy pals when you return, safe in the knowledge that youre now two weeks closer to spring.
Winter vs summer
The whole concept of a summer holiday makes sense on paper – but when you take a closer look at it, maybe weve all been doing it wrong.
Summer in the UK can be pretty great, actually. We get some decent stretches of sunshine these days (thank you global warming), and there are beautiful beaches for weekend escapes.
Maybe we shouldnt be flocking to the easyJet departure gates every July.
With carnivals, BBQs and endless rooftop drinks – youd be mad to miss out on the British summertime.
At the faintest glimmer of a hot day, we spill out of work at 4pm and head to the beer garden, we take long lunch breaks in the park, our weekends are spent drinking Pimms in the garden – Its really not a bad time to be at home.
Winter is when you want to make your escape. The bone-chilling, endlessly freezing months of darkness – the perfect time to decide to go explore southern Asia, the Caribbean or South America.
The best destinations for winter sun
Stunning scenery, cheap living costs and genuinely lovely local people make Sri Lanka a fantastic option. Travel along the south coast for picturesque beaches and great surfing. Late December and January are best to avoid rainy season.
Dubai is perfect at this time because the weather isnt too sickly hot. Theres a nice breeze to make it much more bearable. Theres lots of outdoor dining too, which is perfect for shisha on the long, warm nights.
The classic luxury Caribbean destination, Barbados is perfect for an all-inclusive vibe. But there are also plenty of excursions you can book to get a taste of the islands culture and history – and January boasts sailing week, if boats are your thing.
If youre in search of adventure then Costa Rica could be perfect. Acres of rainforest, mountains and nature parks mean theres plenty to do. You could spend half your time on the move and then finish on an idyllic beach to get your relaxation fix.
Slightly cheaper and easier to get to, Morocco is a great option for some warm weather in December. Book a lavish riad for you and your friends, and while away the hours looking for exotic delights in the souks.
Cambodia has had a surge in popularity in recent years and its not hard to work out why. Stunning palaces, temples and beaches make it a fantastic choice for a mix of culture and relaxation.