Vacationers looking for a getaway this winter may find themselves deterred by the news of the Zika virus. If you’ve been avoiding the news for the past year, here are some basics about the virus: it’s spread by mosquitos (and sexual activity), it’s especially troublesome for pregnant women and can cause birth defects, and there’s no vaccine for it. It’s been found in mosquitos everywhere from south Florida to the Caribbean to many of the countries of South America.
With all this in mind, you may find yourself wanting to avoid travel this winter. But there are places where you can get away from the typical winter experience and not have to worry about infection. Here are some of our recommendations.
Oh, Canada—home sweet home
We do know of one notable place with an extremely low risk of Zika infection: Canada. It may not be a place for balmy beaches in the wintertime, but Canadians have figured out the art of escaping the winter blues without leaving the country. There are plenty of spas, resorts, and cozy cottages in Canada catering to the winter vacationer. If you want a break from the weather, head for one of the islands on the west coast. If you want to revel in the beauty of the season, go to Lake Louise and see the incredible mountain views. And if you just want to relax in a hot tub and get a massage, check out one of the many internationally acclaimed spas right here at home. Canada is one of the best vacation spots in the world, and you’ll never convince us otherwise!
Looking for a classic sun, beach, and surf vacation? Hawaii is the classic, and it’s free from locally acquired cases of the Zika virus. So what should you do on your worry-free Hawaiian vacation? First off, how about saying hello to the sun? In the wintertime, temperatures tend to be upwards of 25 degrees Celsius. Hawaii is also home to hundreds of beaches offering ample surfing, sunbathing, and swimming opportunities, and there are lots of inland places to adventure too. There are incredible hikes through mountainous and volcanic regions, golf courses for miles, and tons of opportunities to try local cuisine (not to mention cocktails). Hawaii is, and will always be, a vacation classic.
Looking to get as far away from the Canadian winter as possible? You can’t get much further than Australia. And as a bonus, no Zika infections have been acquired there. Like Canada, Australia is a huge country with many different regions offering different things to see and do. There are beaches, of course, but there are also landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and Uluru, the largest monolith in the world. Whether you’re looking for a cultural experience or some time in a place of mind-bending beauty, Australia has you covered.
Unlike almost every other country in South America, Chile has no reported active Zika transmissions. Why? Because Chile is not home to the Aedes aegypti, AKA the mosquito that carries the virus. What Chile is home to is a massive coastline full of beaches, tons of vineyards, huge areas of untouched wilderness, and a complex and storied history. If you’re looking for the cosmopolitan experience, head to Santiago, where 40% of the country’s population lives. The city has a happening nightlife, restaurants upon restaurants, and amazing architecture. If you need a break from the metropolitan experience, there are amazing hiking opportunities in all regions of the country. On a map, Chile may look like just a thin strip of land, but it has more to offer than many countries three times its size.
If, to you, vacation = beach, sun, and wine, then California has you covered. It’s not blistering hot in the winter, but with December temperatures averaging close to 20 degrees celsius, it’s a far cry from Canadian winter. Most importantly, there is so much to do in the Golden State. L.A. is one of the entertainment capitals of the world, and is home to Hollywood, legendary comedy clubs, and established and up-and-coming musicians who have flocked there to cut their teeth. If you prefer a more laid back experience, head to San Francisco, the land of burritos and beautiful hilly views. Or if you’d rather stay out of the big cities altogether, spend some time in Napa and Sonoma, the biggest wine regions, which are flanked by incredible redwood forests. Head down to California, and the winter blues will be the last thing on your mind.
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