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.
Best for beaches: Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
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 cheap here (about £1.50 for a local beer) 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).
Best for safaris: Nkhotakota, Malawi
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.
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 very little.
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
Best for pool lounging: Dubai, UAE
Everyone loves swimming pools in Dubai. Elaborate swim-up bars, fountains, infinity pools, Jacuzzis, lap lanes, paddling pools – you name it, they’ve got 100 of them here, almost always on the rooftops of hotels and apartment blocks.
When the mercury rises to the high 20s here (which is pretty much all the time between April and November) the city’s residents and many visitors can’t wait to slather themselves in sun lotion and seek out the perfect pool to plunge into.
If you need a little more than a quick dip and a day on the sunlounger to keep you entertained, fit in a trip to Wild Wadi Water Park (jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/wild-wadi).
You’ll find giant wave pools, a long lazy river that you can drift around on a rubber ring and some terrifying water slides, including the Jumeirah Sceirah, which sends you down at a stomach-churning 80kmph.
The water throughout the park is kept at 28ºC; warm in most parts of the world, but a cooling relief in the UAE’s scorching heat.
Keep the pool theme going into the night and dress up for evening drinks at one of Dubai’s sensational pool bars.
The Address Dubai Marina’s infinity pool looks as if the water tips right into the cityscape, making it a scenic place for shisha and cocktails.every night from 6-9pm.
Shop around for package deals to Dubai. You can bag five-night trips with flights for less than you’d think.
Best for boozing: Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town already has plenty going for it – Table Mountain, every sport you can imagine from surfing to cycling, Robben Island (the prison famed for housing Nelson Mandela for 27 years) and access to African wildlife – yet there’s no shame in admitting you want to go just for the vino.
Less than an hour’s drive out of the city is Stellenbosch, a town mad about wine where you can explore vineyards, take in tremendous scenery and get stuck into epic tasting sessions of the Western Cape’s best offerings.
South African wine tours are as popular with younger tourists as they are older ones – join the right group and you’ll find nothing highfalutin about it.
The guide will drive you, tell you what you’re about to drink and someone will pour it… and then pour some more. Because many of the tours are targeted at a young clientele, they’re priced accordingly.
Easy Rider Specialist Wine Tours are one of the cheaper operators, who offer an all-inclusive full day for £47 with optional lunch.
This one’s more about spending a day drinking rather than developing your palette.
If you’re prepared to pay a little more for Tsiba Tsiba Wine Tours you get the best of both. Half day wine tours from £30.50
Best for trekking: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hardy trekkers like to have a dig at Chiang Mai, complaining of phoney hill tribe village stays and ‘remote’ hiking paths that couldn’t be more well-beaten if they were tarmaced. Don’t listen to the haters.
We think that for trekkers starting out, Chiang Mai is one of the most fantastic places in the world to explore the jungle.
The province has been a staple on the Thai backpacker circuit for years, meaning that while you’re not exactly exploring uncharted territory, the tour operator and guest house owner’s experience make it a mostly stress-free process.
Sign up to a tour and before you know it you’ll be meeting elephants, walking along jungle paths, bamboo rafting down gentle rivers and camping under the stars. It’s cheap, too, with day treks starting from as little as £30.
Be sure to book with a reputable operator – seek out the opinions of other backpackers you meet before committing to anything – and ask plenty of questions about what the owners are doing to ensure the trek is sustainable for the local area.
Getting there: Flights from London to Bangkok £470 return.
Best for watersports: Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Get wet and wild in Gran Canaria, where the steadily warm temperatures and light breezes make it a perfect destination for watersports.
The coast is lined with sailors, surfers, scuba divers, bodyboarders and waterskiers, but it’s windsurfing that most suits the climate of this sporty isle.
You can practice all along the east and south coasts of this Spanish-ruled island off the coast of Morocco. Excellent conditions can be found at Las Palmas’ Playa de las Canteras beach in the northeast and around Gáldar in the northwest.
ION Club offer reasonable rates for beginners in the Bahia Feliz bay.
Best for partying: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brits say, “Just my cup of tea.” Brazilians say, “È minha praia” (“That’s my beach”).
What more do you need to know about their approach to relaxing? Possibly the only activity that Cariocas are as good at as parading their scantily clad bodies along the seaside is partying hard.
And when a pint of Rio’s favourite Brahma beer rarely costs more than £1.50, it would be rude not to join in the fun.
Of course we don’t doubt that you’re more than capable of finding your own sensational bar, but if watching the sun set with a cold bevvy in your hand is your thing, we heartily recommend Azul Marinho (Avenida Francisco Bhering, tel. +55 21 2513 5014) on Arpoador beach, which extends from the famous Ipanema. Go. Drink. Enjoy.
Travelling in the heat? Top tips for cooling down
When you spend all day soaking up the sun, it’s easy to do yourself damage without realising it. Follow these top tips to take care of yourself in the sunshine.
Make sure you keep drinking water during a day out in the sun, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Don’t quench your thirst with beer, even if it seems like the greatest idea in the world.
The alcohol dehydrates you and plays a key role in giving you the hangover from hell the next day.
Keep your neck cool
This is a clever little trick – if you wear a cap backwards or raise your collar, this keeps the back of your neck in shade.
The sensor for our body temperature control is in this area, so if you keep it shaded you can make the rest of your body feel cooler than it really is. Magic.
Freeze your pillow
If the heat’s keeping you up at night, wrap a small pillow in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer for an hour or two before you go to bed. Take it out and use it to keep you cool, as you would use a hot water bottle to keep you warm.
Britain’s hot spots
If time or funding factors mean you really can’t get abroad this winter, then at least try to get away for few days in one of the UK’s warmer corners.
Isles of Scilly
A walk on the beach in November might seem like finger-numbing madness, but Britain’s coastline, where the ocean moderates air temperature, is the warmest area in winter.
The Isles of Scilly only get frosty a couple of days each a year, and the waters stay at 11-12°C throughout the winter. Not exactly perfect conditions for jumping in without a wetsuit, but still…
A while back, Jersey went to war with the Isles of Scilly, with an advertising campaign claiming that the Channel Island was “the warmest place in the British Isles”.
The Isles of Scilly were miffed, convinced this was their title (their tourism authority even went so far as to claim Jersey wasn’t part of the UK proper anyway).
Jersey stood their ground.
Nobody came out of this scrap looking dignified, but all you need to know is that Jersey’s winter temperature averages a top of 8°C, which, of course, is considerably warmer than London.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you: over the last century in the UK, temperatures have risen above 17°C only eight times in January – and every one of those times was on the coast of north Wales.
The cosy town of Portmeiron catches warm dry winds that blow down the sheltered side of the mountains, making it a very pleasant place to escape the chills of the capital.