Escape the Cold: The Best Places to Warm You Up


If you’re not interested in a super-touristy experience, and want to head somewhere much less crowded but with the same gorgeous weather as the rest of Central America, you should consider Belize for your next vacation. There are tons of beaches along the Caribbean coast with the massive Belize Barrier Reef lying just offshore. This reef is a major draw for many scuba divers, and for snorkeling.

Another famous site that’s a major tourism draw is the Great Blue Hole, a massive marine sinkhole near Lighthouse Reef. Jacques Cousteau declared it one of the greatest scuba diving sites in the world when it was shown to him in 1970.

On shore, Belize has many beautiful beach locations like Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, and Placencia. If you get tired of relaxing on the beach, you can venture inland to some of Belize’s magnificent Mayan ruins like Altun Ha and Caracol, which are popular sites for day-trips.

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New Orleans

New Orleans is a great place to go over the holidays — it has mild temperatures, and a laid-back pace despite being a major American hub. Typically, New Orleans gets busier during Mardi Gras and the Carnival season, which happens in the spring. Christmas holidays are slower in New Orleans, and it’s more likely that you’ll find good deals on accommodations.

Check out the bonfires on the levees of the Mississippi River that happen at sunset, which are traditionally lit to guide Papa Noël through the river. In Louisiana, children have traditionally been taught about Papa Noël and his boat pulled by eight alligators instead of Santa Claus. The oaks of City Park are dressed up in lights, and you can wander through the brilliant display before heading out for a decadent Réveillon dinner.


Traditionally, Réveillon is the meal served after midnight mass, and is always a delicious feast full of Creole favorites. Many of the best Christmas events in New Orleans are free, which makes it easy to splash out on a hotel room and save cash on activities.

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Phuket, Thailand

If you’re interested in busy nightlife along with a healthy serving of beaches and outdoor activities, Phuket is the place for you. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and is covered in long beaches that look out over jutting rock formations dripping in greenery. Although Phuket has a reputation for being full of intoxicated young people on their gap year vacations, it’s easier than ever to find resorts and hotels that cater to a more upscale crowd.

Between days on the beach, you can visit Phuket Old Town, which is full of colorful historic buildings built in the Sino-Portuguese style, or take a long-boat out to one of the nearby islands like Surin or Similan for a day of snorkeling. If you’re in Phuket over Christmas, the larger resorts will have some sort of Christmas dinner celebration, which you may want to book in advance. It’s best to book accommodations several months in advance to ensure the best price, but you don’t need to worry about locking in excursions until you’ve arrived — December is their slow season.

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10 Interesting New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

In the Gregorian calendar, which is the most widely-used calendar system in the world, the start of the New Year is celebrated on January 1. In North America, bottles of champagne are popped, kisses are exchanged, and everyone sings and makes noise to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. Some traditions that we take part in are unique to our culture, even if it seems like everyone does them. In other parts of the globe, the celebration of the New Year looks quite different — some cultures even celebrate it on a completely separate day.

Weirdest American Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is here and businesses across the United States are going all-out to make sure that their decorations are better than the year before. The majority of Americans get so excited about holidays that it’s easy to forget how many traditions are strangely unique to the American culture. Actually, there are a large number of uniquely American holiday traditions that seem strange to those who didn’t grow up here. Let’s explore some of the weirdest American holiday traditions that are out there today.

The World in Liquor

When you go out for a night, how many options for liquor does your home base bar have on offer? Sure, they’ve probably got some standard gins, vodkas, rums, whiskies, and tequilas—but probably not much of anything else. If you’re traveling, one of the best ways to start to get to know the local culture is to indulge in a popular local drink.