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January 2022 warm weather stay

Where in the world would you advise for a month-long stay to escape Montana freeze?

Central America?
South Pacific?

We are wanderers, not sunbathers.
Not resort patrons or tour group members, more independent
Love to immerse ourselves into different cultures
We have backpacked most of the continents, but now want to stop and absorb one place.
We are “seasoned”: happy to read, write, learn, and have a few close friends.
Safe but exotic for us retired teachers.

Any comments welcomed!

Thank you,
Sheila and Jan

Posted by
6511 posts

Depending on your budget I'd say it's a perfect time to visit down under - Australia and/or New Zealand. With a month you can see and experience a lot of what they both have to offer. And plenty of warm weather.

Posted by
3351 posts

I was going to suggest New Zealand if it has reopened, but I see from your history that you've BTDT. Another possibility is SE Asia, again providing things open. We loved our time in Thailand and Vietnam. We're currently planning a trip to Egypt next year, and contemplating adding on Jordan and Israel.

Posted by
5710 posts

Costa Rica, Central America or the Southern Hemisphere. Most of Europe is cold and wet in January. You may get lucky with southern Spain, but I have also had really miserable wet cold weather there in January.

Cyprus is about as warm as Europe gets in January and it has plenty of history and good walking.

Check out average weather websites, as what I think of as cold may not be the same as your views.

Posted by
1800 posts

It’ll be winter in South America and the Southern Ocean in Jan, but winter in both regions is not as severe as it is in Montana. Going there probably wouldn’t be a problem since you won’t be hanging out on the beach.
New Zealand and Australia might be worth looking into. Instead of South America, what about Central America i.e., Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama.
There’s also SE Asia and the month of January is a good time to go. Places of interest might be Hong Kong and Macau (China), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

Posted by
3174 posts

I see that you’ve visited parts of NZ and AU in some depth. In January-February 2020 we spent 3 weeks on the South Island of NZ and then a week in Melbourne. I can highly recommend the Marlborough Sound wine region and points further south to the tip of NZ. Then you could fly to somewhere on the vast continent of AU and explore further there. Have fun, I hope they let us return in 2022.

Posted by
2275 posts

It will obviously depend on your budget, your interests, and how the international COVID situation resolves itself in the next 8 months, but I can tell you that back when we lived in the Pacific Northwest we spent several very pleasant winters in the central Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. We really got to love the place - sunny all the time, friendly people, daily highs in the low 80's with low humidity and overnight lows in the low 40's. We found it to be a cheap (and very safe) winter escape from the gloom of the PNW. The town itself is relaxing and there are a number of interesting day trips to be had within an hour or two of the town. Spending at least a few nights in Mexico City is highly advised as well - lots to see and do there.
Can get there either by flying into Mexico City and taking a bus to SMA, or flying into Guanajuato and arranging a private car pickup from there or (better) just taking the bus. The long distance buses in Mexico are very nice indeed and are highly recommended. If you're at all interested I can provide more details about travel to and within Mexico in a PM.
Given all of the uncertainties surrounding travel at the moment I think most here would advise not committing to anything that can't be canceled without penalty until the last minute.
Another suggestion would be to fly to Sydney and explore SE Australia by car. It's another one of our favorite winter destinations.

Posted by
5648 posts

Two years ago we spent almost all of January in Morocco. Fascinating cultural differences, fantastic food, and plenty of wandering in the middle of the country. We didn’t get to any of the coastal locations. We had over a week in Marrakech, at the beginning and end of the trip, a week up in Fes and the surroundings, and a weeklong desert excursion (with Desert Majesty, on a private tour for us two).

Our riads (fancy B&B’s) in Marrakech and Fes arranged private guided tours for us in and around those cities, plus we had time on our own to explore the old town medinas and markets. Market and cooking classes were another exciting experience.

The desert does get really cold at night, but quite warm in the daytime. Our tents were heated, and at least there wasn’t snow and ice to deal with. We even got a fantastic Moroccan rug (planned to get one!) that would’ve cost way, way more had we gotten anything like it here in the USA.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you so much for such rapid responses.

Now that we’ve had our shots, we’re dreaming. It feels so good. Hope you are enjoying the same relief.

I guess we’re looking for isolated spots (like all other travelers) that offer warm weather and spectacular views and wandering possibilities. Without crowds.

We’re sure we cannot go back to places we’ve visited and expect to have similar delights. Change is inevitable, so Australia, NZ, SE Asia, and South America are off the list for now. Morocco is a possibility. Anyone enjoyed Greece or Cyprus or Malta. Even the Big Island?

We would like to know if you’ve ventured to an unknown place for the winter months.

Again, you’ve helped. Sheila

Posted by
5648 posts

Sheila, as winter sports enthusiasts, we’ve embraced the cold, and except for that January 2019 Morocco adventure, and Italy (including Sicily) in 2012, any other trips during winter have been to other ski destinations, besides Colorado.

Trips to Greece have been in spring and fall. What’s the Big Island you’re referring to - Crete, Sicily, Hawaii? Sicily at Christmas was magical, by the way, although it rained some, and nights were cool, but certainly not freezing. One day at the Agrigento Greek temples, it was actually pretty hot.

Some English friends frequent Gozo, off of Malta, but they have a place there, and it’s their getaway from British chill.

Where in Big Sky country are you? I spent a summer week in Laurel back in the mid-1980’s and it was scorching!

Posted by
5710 posts

Much of Greece can be wet in January. Many of the smaller islands close up for the winter.

Cyprus is generally drier. I have spent some time there in January and had a mix of quite warm (shorts) weather plus a few days that were cold and blustery, but still warmer than the U.K.

My other half refuses to go to Malta due to their disgusting practice of shooting migratory birds almost to extinction. I was last there many years ago. It’s cooler and wetter than Cyprus plus Cyprus has more historical sites.

Posted by
3789 posts

Not necessarily the warmest time to go, but what about the Azores?
I have had similar questions, and in recent research, Central America may be a good bet. I look at Covid rates and vaccination rates for the country of interest. That being said, Nicaragua or Honduras may not be as appealing come January - despite complete vaccination. No one knows whether they work on the variants or if boosters will be needed before then. I would prefer to go somewhere where local numbers are low and some moderate level of vaccination has happened.
(and if I may respectfully say, that many places, unless you had months or years to visit previously, can be revisited with a different lens).

Posted by
2275 posts

The Big Island of Hawaii would be a good option for you. Due to the effect of the Northeast tradewinds the Hilo side will be rainy, but that's always the case which is why it's a popular place for flower farms if you're into that sort of thing. The Kona side is the dry side and is a completely different experience than Hilo. Add to that day trips up to the volcano and maybe a drive up to the observatory at Mauna Kea (might be snowed in in January) and you could easily spend a relaxing month exploring the island.
Meant to add that Majorca is a very nice winter getaway too, especially if you base yourselves in or near the pretty little port town of Soller on the west side.

Posted by
18 posts

Wow! So much help. Greatly welcomed. Thank you. In a perfect world i would invite you all to an in-person round table discussion.
I used to search Lonely Planet’s Thorntree to find inspiration, but it’s currently closed, and personal travel preferences can be finicky. Now that my husband and i have been inoculated, we’re investigating possibilities to escape Montana cold for a month or more, so each of your posts is stimulating.

I wonder if there’s a “travel philosophy” forum.

We’ll continue to ponder any suggestions. Thank you.

Posted by
4172 posts

Winter in North America is summer in South America. If you don’t mind a little culture shock, we thoroughly enjoyed Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Quito, Ecuador; and Cusco/Machu Picchu, Peru. If you’re more adventurous and want to spend more time outdoors, maybe head down to Patagonia. With a month, it would be easy to travel around each of the places mentioned. Covid and the political climate must be considered as each has recently undergone some political turmoil.

Posted by
15053 posts

As a southern neighbor of Lebanon, I wouldn't recommend it in January but February is usually very decent weather.

Southeast Asia is best in January and February. Temps are usually not too hot and it's the dry season, so no rain and less humidity. Thailand and Vietnam are wonderful destinations, with big cities, small towns and villages, day trips into nature, lots of culture and history, very friendly people. I've been to Thailand 3 times and Vietnam twice. While I've used private guides (very affordable) and day tours, all my travel was independent.

Posted by
1 posts

Great question Sheila

Mediterranean in the most part isn't going to be all that warm in January (you'll find a little along the northern coast of Africa). My pick would be South East Asia. January is the perfect time to visit weather-wise - it's much less humid and the temperature while still hot isn't stifling. Thailand particularly has a wonderful culture to immerse yourself into and can be done independently without the need for tour groups. Like most countries, they do have some resorts, but away from their are small boutique hotels and locally run places to stay. It's safe but exotic! And they plan to open fully in October to all vaccinated tourists without having to quarantine. It will be one of the best times to visit the country which is normally overrun by tourism because far fewer people will be going AND because of the huge tourism infrastructure, I think there are going to be some fantastic deals on hotels, tours, accommodation etc.

So to answer your question. If you want to stay in one place for a month, I'd make it either Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand or Phuket in the south. Phuket would be warmer, lovely beaches, hidden little spots on the island, great seafood. Chiang Mai a little cooler but still very pleasant. Lots of culture, interesting Northern Thai food. Both are exotic, safe, interesting and pleasant to stay in for a month and you'll get to experience them without the usual hoards of tourists.

Posted by
99 posts

Hi Sheila, oh it so wonderful to be back in dream mode, isn't it? Cheers to dreaming about the next trip. Since you mentioned being open to Central America, I have 3 suggestions:
1. Panama- we spent a week here over Christmas a few years back and could have definitely spent more time in Panama. There is also a large American and Canadian expat community in Panama City. The weather was definitely hot. But we enjoyed going out onto the Panama Canal, going to Monkey island, seeing San Lorenzo fort (just imagine yourself to be a pirate here). You can also take day trips in to see indigenous villages as well as go to national parks. Lots to do and see.
2. Belize- while a small country, we also enjoyed our time in Belize. Even if you are not beachgoing, you can visit some of the islands and enjoy island life. Slower pace- you can go to Ambergris Caye and take a day trip out on to the barrier reef or go sailing, etc. You can also visit Shark Ray Alley. There is even a little chocolate company on the island that offers a small class and tasting. On the mainland, you can also go visit Mayan ruins Altun Ha. We went horseback riding from our farm stay up into the ruins and it was really cool (but I walked funny for a few days after that horseback ride- out of practice!). We only had a week at the time, but could easily have spent more time here too.
3. Costa Rica- Northern Costa Rica was pretty amazing for us. Lots of day trips here to great national parks for hiking. We went ziplining through a cloud forest when we were here, which was incredible. Lots of focus on ecotourism here and plenty of things to do.

Hopefully this will add to your research list. I'm also happy to answer any questions about the trips if that would be helpful. Happy planning!

Posted by
6879 posts

Normally, I would say South America or Mexico...but, due to covid, I would actually say California. Great weather and they're taking good precautions. Plenty to do outdoors, and the coastline is stunning. I think the "Lebanon" entry is spam - the link and odd wording is a giveaway. Lebanon has imploded economically in a spectacular fashion - can't imagine it's a great place to go for tourism right now unless you want to see a lot of misery, frsutration, and anger on the streets.

Malta is really small and can get chilly in January. You can give it a try, it's very sunny there in general but I'm not sure January would be a great month to go there.

Posted by
28127 posts

It’ll be winter in South America and the Southern Ocean in Jan, but winter in both regions is not as severe as it is in Montana.

The seasons are reversed south of the equator, and both the Southern Ocean and South America are south of the equator. So it will actually be summer.

Midsummer day south of the equator is December 21st, give or take.

Posted by
5630 posts

A month in one place is a huge decision. Do you like historical or scenic places?

The only place in Central America that I would recommend is Costa Rica, but a month there is way too much.

The MED is amazing and Greece would be my pick, include taking a short cruise of the islands and visit all the history in mainland Greece.

You say you have been to most of the continents, but have you been to Peru? It is amazing. Machu Picchu, Cuzco and the Sacred Valley are worth a week. It is best to take a tour in Peru.

Buenos Aires is another suggestion, with trips to nearby places.

Australia and NZ have been shut down for many months, not sure when they will open up again.

Posted by
9921 posts

*** Please note the OP was last April. It was necroposted on by the 1st time poster from Bangkok who included lots of link's I'd personally not click on. YMMV

Posted by
1800 posts

It’ll be summer in South America and the Southern Ocean in Jan, but winter in both regions is not as severe as it is in Montana.

I meant to say it will be summer in Jan.

Posted by
32 posts

My vote is Costa Rica. Easy to get to. Beautiful. Inexpensive. So much to do. We spent 2019 winter break on an eco-tour of the national parks. You could do this on your own or with an organized group. Costa Ricans were warm/friendly & the whole country is so chill. The food is terrific (check out the farm-to-table restaurant options). Beaches are beautiful. Hiking is great. San Jose has cultural/historic sights if that's included in your interests.