Happy 2016, folks! The holidays are over, the dust is finally settling after a month (or two!) of family visits, gift shopping, and overall merry mayhem, and you FINALLY have a chance to sit down and relax.

Phew.

Take a deep cleansing breath. It’s time for some real fun!

What should you do to kick off the awesomeness of 2016? Travel, of course! January is a great month to be globetrotting—lots of places around the world are experiencing great weather coupled with smaller crowds following the holidays. And, let’s be real, you could use a vacation.

Without further ado, here are some of the best places to kick off your new year. Happy travels!

1.) If You Believe that Timing Is Everything

Tami Freed / Shutterstock

Tami Freed / Shutterstock

You should head to Belize! This Central American country plays seriously hard to get when it comes to the right time to visit—it’s obnoxiously hot, humid, and rainy for much of the year. But, come January, Belize is pleasantly warm and dry, meaning if you want to visit, you should do it RIGHT NOW.

Seriously. The window is small.

Why should you be pumped about Belize? It’s got incredible beaches, gorgeous Mayan ruins, tropical jungles to trek through, and best of all—very small crowds. Belize is what it’s all about this month, folks!

2.) If You Love Elephants and Snorkeling

Somchai Siriwanarangson / Shutterstock

Somchai Siriwanarangson / Shutterstock

Thailand is the place for you. This gorgeous Southeast Asian nation has something for everyone. From the animal loving nature nut to the hippy beach bum, you’re pretty much guaranteed to fall in love with Thailand. And, guess what? The weather there is perfect this month!

If you want to commune with nature, head north to Chiang Mai. You can trek through the Thai jungle, visit the famous Elephant Nature Park—which rescues elderly, abused, and disabled elephants, among a slew of other animals—and even go on an ATV adventure through the Mae Rim Valley. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, pop across the border near Chiang Rai into Myanmar or Laos.

If you’d rather lay on the beach, head to Phuket! From there, you can hop over to one of the countless Thai islands, all offering incredible snorkeling, parties, and general beach bumming activities. Ǹā klạw!

3.) If You’re a Luxurious Adventurer

michaeljung / Shutterstock

michaeljung / Shutterstock

Hello, South Africa! There are a zillion reasons to visit South Africa all year round, but in January, we challenge you to find a reason not to visit! The weather’s perfect, so head south for a classic African safari, a tour around Cape Town, and a dip in the Indian Ocean. Don’t forget to rent a car and take a breathtaking drive around the Garden Route!

When you’re done driving, kick back with a glass (or a whole bottle!) of South African wine. The country has a 400-year history of winemaking, with a ton of famous vineyards dotting its countryside. Yum!

4.) If You’re a Classic Snowbird

bartuchna@yahoo.pl / Shutterstock

bartuchna@yahoo.pl / Shutterstock

Snowbirds have been keeping it real in January for decades, and you know where they love to go? Miami. It’s close, it’s affordable, and it’s WARM. What more could you ask for?

A lot, as it turns out, since there are plenty of spots in the US’s southern half that could satisfy those three basic requirements this time of year. What makes Miami so unique? Its mojitos, its unbeatable parties, plus its booming hotel and restaurant scene are all on the list. Even better, the city is a hub for innovative art galleries and exhibits, playing host to the American Art Basel show each winter. And of course, don’t forget the beaches. There’s no better place to escape the snow this month!

5.) If You Actually Love the Snow

Galina Barskaya / Shutterstock

Galina Barskaya / Shutterstock

If you want to do the opposite of escape the snow this winter, head over to Lake Tahoe to get in some quality time with the powder. This popular ski destination is having an exceptional year—the snow started as early as November—and the views of its winter-y lake are absolutely gorgeous. What better way to unwind after the holidays than to slip down the slopes by day and kick back in a fancy Tahoe lodge by night?

Where will you be spending your January vacation? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About The Author

Hannah Winsten

Hannah Winsten is a freelance writer and marketing consultant living in New York City. A total travel junkie, Hannah came to CheapOair as a French translator and SEM associate after returning from a stint living abroad in Paris. She’s also working on her first book--you know you want to read it. Find her on Twitter at @HannahRWinsten.