8th Oct 2012 7:59am | By Helen Elfer
The weather’s horrible. Just take a look out the window. Can you see a promising patch of blue sky in the distance? No, thought not.
Fact is, there’s going to be nothing but grey skies, drizzle and biting winds for the next few months. So there’s only one thing to do – check your bank balance, book some time off work and get on a plane to warmer climes.
Worried you’re too skint? TNT has you covered. No matter how tight your budget, we’ve found a bargain break that will suit every taste.
If you fancy spending a few days lying by a picturesque pool, Dubai’s your best bet, or for the more adventurous, take an African safari in Malawi, trek through Thailand’s jungle or hit the waves of the Canary Islands.
But perhaps you’d rather a laid-back escape that involves sunsets and cocktails? Head to Rio de Janeiro, another amazing shoestring getaway. Read on to find out how.
When it’s wet and miserable outside, you shut your eyes for a second and picture yourself lying on warm, clean sand, waves lapping at your toes, sun beating down on your face and palm trees for shade.
That scene in your mind looks exactly like Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.
This small beach town has a dreamy, who-cares-about-the-rest-of-the-world kind of vibe. Hippy cafes plastered with yoga class posters line the ramshackle roads and small shops selling silver jewellery and handicrafts.
Drinks are ridiculously cheap here (about 50p for a bottle of Lion Lager) and there is a whole line of beach bars on Unawatuna’s sands that stay open late.
Unawatuna was hit hard by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and in the chaos of reconstruction, many bars and guest houses were built right on the beach without planning permission – they were desperate to get back in business as tourism is a lifeblood of the community.
So it’s clear many of these venues weren’t built to last and will likely see their foundations erode at some stage, but for now this oversight means cheap rooms so close to the sea you could leap from your balcony into the waves at high tide.
What else might you need from a beach getaway?
There’s good surf at Unawatuna, and even better waves a 25-minute drive away at Mirissa beach.
If for some crazy reason you get bored of hanging on one of the prettiest beaches in Sri Lanka, you can always take a 10-minute tuk tuk ride to the quiet, colonial town of Galle (srilankatourism.org).
Getting there: Emirates flies from London to Colombo from £559 return.
Practically everyone has some version of ‘see the big five in the wild’ on their before-I’m-30 or bucket list – tick it off this winter.
While everyone in Britain is shivering at bus stops, bumping umbrellas and muttering apologies to each other, you could be far away, adventuring underneath the hot African sun.
Sounds like the better option, doesn’t it?
These safaris are never cheap, but if you’re willing to forgo the deluxe tour options (which can be the same price as a year’s rent) you can get some good deals, especially in Malawi, which has only just joined the handful of African countries where you can see the famous five.
Majete Wildlife Park has the lot – lions, rhinos, leopards, buffaloes and elephants.
But if you can live without seeing all of these, try the beautiful Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, also in Malawi, which has just as amazing creatures, including giraffes, giant kingfisher, falcons and much more.
It’s also possible to get by without spending too much on your accommodation, as Bua River Lodge in Nkhotakota lets you camp for as little as £3.70 a night.
The adventurous among you can go wild camping here, too, pitching a tent a stone’s throw from Namndinga Pool on the Bua River, which is home to some generously sized crocs.
Getting there: Kenya Airways flies to Malawi’s Lilongwe International airport via Nairobi from £641 return.
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