What’s that you say? You’re tired of record-cold temperatures, snow, and still more cold temperatures? Well, my friend, you’re not the only one putting on your mittens in a passive-aggressive manner or glaring at your salt-encrusted car in disgust. The winter migration has begun, and the word “staycation” has been dumped from our collective vocabulary.
Travelers here are hitting their online travel search engines hard in a desperate attempt to escape the current arctic landscape.
Whether daydreaming or actually booking trips, would-be travelers have set their sights on locations where palm trees are abundant, legs are not enrobed in three layers of long underwear, and a Canada Goose is just a bird and not a $700 jacket.
At Expedia.com, 14 out of the top 15 most-searched destinations over the past week are to warmer, sunnier locales, including Miami, Mexico City, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Los Angeles, and Cancun, Mexico. Hopper, the smartphone app that tracks billions of flight prices to determine the best time to buy tickets, found that Bostonians are thinking big and searching for deals in Hawaii.
Over the past week, there has been a dramatic spike in searches to Kahului (up 76 percent over last week) and Honolulu (up 59 percent), plus Tampa (up 51 percent). Rounding out the top five are Myrtle Beach (up 51 percent) and Saint Thomas Island (40 percent).
Those Hawaiian destinations may sound extravagant, particularly for a spur-of-the-moment excursion. But it’s not as outrageous as it sounds. As of this writing — remember airfares are quite fickle — a flight to Kahului for the week of Jan. 22-29 is $505 round trip from Boston. A flight to Honolulu for that same stretch is $592. Both of those rates are available on Alaska Airlines.
If you’re brave enough to fly on Spirit Airlines, you can go round trip to Tampa for $118. If you enjoy a flight that’s less basic, Tampa is $207 round trip on Delta. You can go round trip to Myrtle Beach for $125. Round trip to Saint Thomas is $322.
If you haven’t begun your search for a warm-weather escape, but are starting to feel as if your emotional health is dependent upon experiencing temperatures over 70 degrees, you’re in luck. There are airfare bargains to be had in January out of Boston.
According to Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, you can currently get a round-trip flight to Fort Lauderdale for $104. That’s 25 percent off the normal round-trip fare of $140. The cost of flights to New Orleans are also down 25 percent (currently $120), and Jacksonville is on sale for $160. If you’re looking for something out of the United States, Surry found that the cost of a round-trip flight to the Dominican Republic is $350, Jamaica is $410, and Barbados is $350.
In fact, the silver lining to all this frost is that January consistently offers the best flight deals because demand is slow following the holidays, so you should be able to find a great deal. Start with Google Flights if you’re ready to begin your search.
If you’re too busy shoveling to start your own in-depth investigation, there are bargain airlines that offer no-frills flights to toasty vacation escapes. You can get to the tropical French Caribbean island of Martinque on Norwegian Air, round-trip, for under $200 the week of Jan. 22-28. The only downside? You have to make sure the trains are running or your car battery is working, because that Norwegian flight is out of T.F. Green in Providence.Christopher Muther can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther and on Instagram @Chris_Muther.