Where to Go in January: What’s “in season” in January?

by Jessica

September 1st, 2010

For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere and aren’t in a place that’s blessed with 800 days of sun each year (or whatever it is those sunny places claim – we’re not good with math), January tends to be when we start getting antsy for a little break from cold weather. The holiday season is behind us, and it’s time for a vacation that doesn’t involve obligation. But then comes the difficult question – where should you go?

What places are “in season” in January?

Some of the best places to go in January are places that don’t have huge seasonal shifts in temperature and offer warm weather year-round, but if you love the cold and you just want a vacation then January doesn’t have to be about tropical beaches.

>> January travel deals

Here are some of the best places to go in January:

Warm Weather Destinations in January

Southern Hemisphere
If it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it stands to reason it’s summer on the other side of the world, right? Some of the places in the Southern Hemisphere are better to visit in January than others, however, so it’s not always just about picking a random place on the opposite side of the planet.

It can get extremely hot in the cities of southern South America in January, for instance, so you might want to head for the coast instead. Australia and New Zealand are at the height of their summer in January, too, but the beaches in Australia and New Zealand are the perfect places to be when it’s warm.

Southern United States
You probably don’t need to be told about all the “snow birds” who make the regular migration to points in the southern part of the U.S. as soon as the temperature drops – but even if you don’t want to buy a timeshare in Boca you can still enjoy the beautiful weather for a little break in January.

Some of the best spots to visit in January include Florida, the Gulf Coast, Texas, Las Vegas, and the desert resorts in Arizona and southern California. Many of those places can get excessively hot in the summer, so in January the temperatures are mild and pleasant. The locals might think it’s cool enough to wear a sweater in the evening, but if you’re coming from a snow-covered landscape you’ll feel like you’re in tropical heaven.

Mexico, Caribbean, Central America
There are parts of Central America, the Caribbean, and even Mexico that are popular year-round because the weather doesn’t fluctuate so much. When you’ve got a temperate climate year-round, it’s easy to see why you’d have a steady stream of visitors. But any place that tends to be warm year-round also tends to have a period of time when it’s quite wet.

In January, however, the rainy season has mostly past, leaving the landscape lush and green – and the weather is generally not blisteringly hot. Not only that, since the December holidays tend to be really busy in this part of the world, you might actually miss the worst crowds if you wait to visit until January.

India, Southeast Asia
Parts of Asia can be downright chilly in January – including South Korea, China, and Japan – but January can be an excellent time to visit places that might be too sweltering later in the year.

Most of Southeast Asia is past the rainy season by January, and yet it’s not yet at its hottest point. Thailand and Vietnam are great candidates for a January trip, although points further south (including Indonesia) might be best avoided as it’s still too wet. India is another good option in January, as are places in the Indian Ocean like the Maldives.

Northern Africa
While the southern parts of Africa bake in the height of their summer, countries in Northern Africa can be great places to go in January. It’s still quite warm in some areas, of course, but it’s not yet too hot – unless you’re hanging out for a long time in the desert.

Visits to Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Mali are good to plan for January – especially if you like local festivals. Ethiopia celebrates its major Christmas holiday on January 7th right after the Epiphany, and Mali has its annual Festival au Desert each January.

Cold Weather Destinations in January

Ski Trips
Obviously, if you’re really into skiing or snowboarding, January is probably your favorite time of year already. Many of the ski resorts in North America and Europe lie quietly in wait for January, perhaps passing the time as good spots for hiking trips, but their raison d’etre returns when the snow falls.

Ski resorts like the ones at Tahoe and Whistler, along with all the top-notch skiing and snowboarding in Colorado, are highlights of any skier’s January vacation plans. If you’re on the other side of the pond, the ski resorts in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Spain are at their busiest in January.

>> Ski travel deals

It might be hard to imagine that there’s ever a true “Summer” season in Antarctica, but there is – and it’s January. That doesn’t mean it won’t be cold, of course. It just won’t be as cold as it can get, and it’s one of the only times you can get to Antarctica, anyway.

The highlight for many of a trip to Antarctica is seeing the wildlife that calls the icy continent home – and since January is the breeding season you’ll be treated to seeing the next generation of creatures that manage to brave the weather on Antarctica year-round.

>> Adventure trips to Antarctica

photo by Olaf

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