This article was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 24th, 2021.
The sleet is grey. Your socks are grey. Your leggings are grey. Even your dog is grey, and that’s strange because she’s a golden retriever. Blah, it’s the grey season again. But before you crawl back into your sleeping-bag jacket or Google strongest sun lamps, let’s give you a ray of hope for this winter season.
What you need is an escape from those overcast skies with a fabulous winter getaway!
From Aruba to Zermatt, the world brims with places to travel in winter that will fill you with wonder and return the color to your life. Just be sure you know how to travel safely during Covid to get you from point A to point B healthy and happy!
So, how do you choose where to go this winter season?
Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the best winter vacation spots, whether you’re yearning for après-ski-snuggling beside a crackling fire or solo lounging on a pink sand beach lapped by cerulean waves. Let’s dive in so you can get to packing your luggage and carry on bags!
#1 The Classic Winter Wonderland
Want to avoid venturing under your bed or into the attic to uncover your warm weather wardrobe that feels like a distant memory? That’s not a problem. Instead, make the most of your cold weather wardrobe and lean into the seasonal feels.
Like the inside of a snowglobe, these best winter getaways feature frost-glittered pine trees, rustic cabins, softly drifting snowflakes, hot toddies, and your chunkiest knit cardigan.
- Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada – Located entirely within Banff National Park just off the Trans-Canada Highway, these neighboring hamlets are renowned for their spectacular jagged peaks, turquoise blue water, and palatial hotels from which to catch a dog-sled or snowshoe into the pristine wilderness.
- Steamboat Springs, Colorado – Off the beaten path, high in the Rocky Mountains, this historic cowboy town is the home of world-class skiing, local and sustainable dining, and thermal hot springs where you can partake of the therapeutic waters or—better yet—ride the twisting 230-foot waterslides.
- Taebaek, South Korea – The highest city in South Korea, Taebaek (meaning “bright mountain”), sits on the edge of the spectacular Taebaeksan National Park.1 In addition to frosty forest hiking, Taebaek hosts an annual snow festival where you can pose among large-scale snow sculptures of tanks, Totoro, and K-pop stars, or grab a hot chocolate inside an igloo cafe and even make use of an ice bathroom.
If those winter wonderland getaways appeal to you, your luggage and travel bags will need to contain plenty of fleece, long underwear, socks, hats, mittens, and boots. The new BÉIS Collapsible Luggage Collection is just the thing to hold and transport all your essentials for this type of winter getaway.
#2 The Frosty Metropolis
So you like the idea of a chilly, snowy vacation, but prefer cashmere to fleece and Ubers to bobsleds. No problem.
Check out our favorite frosty cities where you can get your fill of museums, operas, and shopping when the temperature dips.
- Vienna, Austria – No winter weekend getaway list is complete without a mention of this quintessential vacation spot. With myriad ice skating rinks, sparkling white architecture, and holiday markets selling everything from roasted almonds to crystal baubles, Vienna’s long history imbues every moment with grandeur and romance. For a sophisticated getaway, don’t miss an evening at the magnificent Staatsoper (State Opera House) whose season runs from September to June.
- Newport, Rhode Island – Frequently included on summertime bucket lists, winter is actually the City-by-the-Sea’s true time to shine. From November to January, The Preservation Society lavishly decorates three of the city’s famed 19th-century mansions along Cliff Walk. The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms are open for tours that transport you directly into the Gilded Age. Round out your winter weekend getaway with clam chowder and hot chocolate at one of the many cozy cafes along Thames Street.
If a cosmopolitan winter escape is calling your name, fill your collapsible luggage with your toastiest, chic pieces.
You’ll need gloves, a warm but stylish hat, and a long, warm coat. And don’t forget footwear that can take you from the sidewalk to the gallery to the cafe on a winter day.
#3 Seaside Paradise
You're screaming, "Enough cold weather already!" And we hear you.
So how about a getaway where the pristine landscape is sparkling with sand rather than snow? There's no need for long underwear and Uggs, but be sure to pack your flip-flops and bikini because even in mid-winter, the sun in these vacation destinations will thaw your frozen core.
- Horseshoe Bay Beach, Southampton, Bermuda – Imagine yourself building pink sandcastles and frolicking in gentle teal waves. Located on Bermuda’s South Shore, the rosy-hued sand at Horseshoe Bay gets its tint from crushed coral and makes this one of the most Instagrammable sites on our list. While you might want to spend your entire escape basking on the blush beach, we recommend adding a little spice to your winter getaway by hitting the hiking trails to the nearby hidden caves and coves, sharing a fish sandwich with a friend, and watching the sunset over a rum cocktail.
- El Nido, Palawan, Philippines – Sure, you could go to this tropical region and stay in a resort, but why not opt for something far more memorable? Glamping! El Nido, the municipality at the northeast tip of Palawan Island, is known for its white-sand beaches, teeming coral reefs, verdant limestone cliffs, and seaside tent hideaways. From rustic to glamorous, you’ll find just the right accommodations in a yurt, treehouse, or canvas tent.
Unlike your friends who opt for a winter getaway in the frozen North, you’ll have the luxury of bringing a smaller piece of luggage on your seaside vacation.
After all, a couple of sundresses and sandals can be easily rolled into one of our weekender bags, with room to spare for that favorite hat, hiking sneakers, and plenty of sunscreen.
#4 The Desert Oasis
Perhaps it’s not the cold that’s got you down. Maybe it’s all the heavy, wet snow and sleet. If so, how about a winter vacation spot guaranteed to dry you out? Try the desert for a winter destination!
Although temperatures can still dip low at night thanks to the lack of moisture in the air, a bright desert getaway might be just the remedy you need this winter.
- Palm Springs, California – Popularized as a vacation spot by movie stars and musicians from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s, Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley still manage to seamlessly combine eye-popping mid-century modern architecture with endless acres of polished golf courses among the rock and cactus beauty where the Colorado and Mojave Deserts meet.
- Namib Desert, Namibia – Arid for the past 55-80 million years, the Namib (meaning “vast place” in Khoekhoe) might be the oldest desert on Earth.2 With accommodations ranging from the serene—a desert lodge and spa on the edge of the red dunes of Sossusvlei—to the adventurous—a luxury safari or a camp within a giraffe conservation area—there is something for everyone in this land of shifting sands and brilliant starry nights.
Packing for the desert can be a little bit of a puzzle.
On one hand, the days will be warm and bright. On the other hand, nights can get downright chilly, especially if those desert winds kick up. Layered clothing will be the best bet for these winter getaways.
Think jeans and t-shirts topped with a light sweater, and maybe even a wrap for the evening. Pop everything you need in a collapsible suitcase and make your trip to the airport that much quicker.
#5 The Twofer
Hot or cold? Mountains or beaches? Snow or sand? Ski or surf?
Sometimes it’s just too hard to choose.
Well, you’re in luck. You don’t have to choose between them. There are a handful of winter vacation getaways where you can have it all.
- Big Bear to Santa Monica, California – Start in the morning on the moderate slopes of Big Bear Mountain or Mountain High ski resort and enjoy the powder until mid-day. Then pack your gear and head down the San Bernardino mountains, across the Los Angeles valley, and end your day by sunset surfing the waves north of the famous light-strewn Santa Monica pier. It might be a long day, but you’ll get bragging rights to the fabled California Double. Of course, you can always stretch the getaway over a long weekend and enjoy the mountains and surf at a more leisurely pace.
- Saint-Lary-Soulan to Biarritz, France – Less than one hundred and fifty miles separate this picturesque ski town in the French Pyrenees from the famous break at Biarritz so, theoretically, you can cram surfing and skiing all into one day. But why rush? Slow down and enjoy the pine forests surrounding the toboggan runs and terrain park of Saint-Lary-Soulan, then make your way to the Côte des Basques, famed not only for its year-round Atlantic waves, but also for its glittering nightlife.3
- Oukaïmeden to Taghazout, Morocco – Under the radar of many winter tourists, skiing in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco takes you back to the early days of the sport: a retro resort, ungroomed runs, and donkey-back lifts up the snow. Wait, what? Truly! You can choose to either ride the mechanical lift to the top of the mountain or get carted up on a donkey. Quite a memorable winter getaway, especially when you finish your day on the slopes with a drive to the surf spots of Taghazout, famed for their consistent swells and heavy reef breaks.
Here’s the trouble with planning a California Double or a Moroccan Twofer—packing.
You’re going to be carrying everything you need for a beach vacation as well as a snow getaway. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Our largest luggage, The 29” Check-In Roller, is more than spacious enough to hold your hats, mittens, fleece, bikini, flip-flops, and everything in between.
Just remember to roll, rather than fold, and you’ll be ready to go!
Whatever Your Winter Getaway, Don't Forget Your BÉIS
Sandals or ski pants? Snow boots or bikini? Have you decided what you're packing to break up this grey winter?
Whether you've settled on a tropical escape, a desert retreat, or a mountain adventure, there's a BÉIS to get you (and all your gear) there! Shop our line of expertly designed luggage, like our grey luggage collection, to travel in style, no matter where you’re going.
If you're looking for more winter getaway ideas in the United States, we've got you covered.
Whether you're looking for a warm winter vacation or a cold one. Check out this list of other top winter travel destinations for activities such as laying by the beach, ice fishing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and more:
- New York: Lake Placid or Central Park
- North Carolina: Asheville
- New Hampshire: Granite Gorge
- Utah: Park City or Salt Lake City
- Florida: Key West, Palm Beach or South Beach
- Nevada: Las Vegas
- Wisconsin: Lake Geneva or The Great Wolf Lodge
- Texas: San Antonio or South Padre Island
- Louisiana: New Orleans
- California: Half Moon Bay, Lake Tahoe, Joshua Tree National Park, Huntington Beach, San Francisco, Santa Barbara or San Diego
- Montana: Big Sky
- South Carolina, Myrtle Beach
- New Mexico: Santa Fe
- “Taebaeksan National Park.” National Parks of Korea, Korea National Park Service, https://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Taebaeksan/Intro/Introduction.aspx
- Spriggs, Amy. “Africa: Namibia.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/at1315
- Williams, Ingrid K. “36 Hours in Biarritz.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 May 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/18/travel/what-to-do-36-hours-in-biarritz-france.html