Winter has yet to show its teeth this year. But it surely will, and then the prospect of escaping for a week or two of blue skies and warm sunshine sometime between December and March will suddenly seem more and more attractive.
Unlike seeking summer sun in the Med, however, finding the right destination can be much more challenging. You are less likely to be familiar with the climate, the journey or geography. So here are the main pitfalls to watch out for.
Hitting the rainy season
I will never forget a plaintive phone call I once received from a friend who had just flown to Tobago in late November assuming the Caribbean was always sunny in winter and found it poured with rain for a week. His assumptions were flawed in two ways. First, the climate varies from island to island across the regions.
Second, had he checked, he would have found that November is the second wettest month of the year in Tobago. Such regional variations are common in tropical and sub-tropical regions – even within the same country. The dry season for Phuket on the west coast of Thailand is December to March, whereas only 200 miles away in Koh Samui on the east coast, it’s from February to April. So check weather2travel.com before you book.
Tempting jet lag
Most winter sun holidays last only a week or so and yet to get there, you will probably cross five or six time zones. That gives just enough time to adjust to the time in your destination, before you fly home and start the whole process again. It’s fine for some, a nightmare for others. Avoid the agony by flying as straight south as you can.
Losing sleep on the plane
The biggest downside of a long-haul break is that at least one flight is very likely to be overnight, meaning you either arrive, or return home exhausted from lack of sleep. One way of mitigating the misery at a little extra cost, is to book with an airline offering a premium economy cabin. I quickly found an excellent option on the BA website.
The overnight flight from Barbados to Heathrow on Jan 21 was £242 in economy and a hefty £1,546 in premium economy. On the same night, the BA flight back to Gatwick was £295 in economy but only £611 in premium economy. The total cost of a return from Jan 14 to 21 with outbound in economy and overnight back in premium, was £906.