It’s snowing outside right now. Not the good kind of fluffy snow that falls quietly and looks like a wintry storybook scene. It’s the kind of snow that immediately turns into brown mush and causes my car to skid because winter is apparently a brand new thing that shocks everyone and the city forgets to salt the roads to make everyone’s life easier. Last week we had two ice storms. This week, the temperature is supposed dip and maintain a cozy range below freezing for days. Winter just started and I’m kind of over it already.

That’s why I am sitting here fantasizing about warm places I’d rather be instead of doing real work. Fortunately I’m the boss, so I can escape into mental vacation mode from time to time. This week’s Friday Favorites is brought to you by wet, miserable winter weather! Behold, the top five warm places I wish I could be enjoying instead of shivering my behind off in Baltimore.

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1. Koh Phi Phi, Thailand – Koh Phi Phi is hands down the most beautiful place on earth I have ever been. I traveled there a couple of years ago and fell head over heels in love with the island. It served as the location to the Leo DiCaprio movie The Beach and it looks exactly like the picture above. You have to take a really long boat ride from the shores of Phuket, Thailand to get there, and it is worth every nauseating seasick moment. From your first step on to the island to the sad goodbye you wave as it fades into the distance, you experience something…. different. This is no ordinary beach paradise. There are no cars allowed on the island, which is fine because it’s super tiny and completely walkable. The food is entirely street food. Or beach food, as it’s caught in the ocean and grilled beachside. There aren’t really hotels, just a handful of small hostels where you won’t spend much time. Wild monkeys inhabit part of it, humans another (small) part. It’s a dream come true for backpackers, as the backdrop is downright stunning. There is reggae playing literally everywhere, the shops and structures are primarily shacks that can be rebuilt if a tropical storm hits, and you are never too far from a drink served in a coconut. To say this is heaven on earth is a total understatement.

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2. New Orleans, LA – I have been to NOLA a few times, and I keep going back for more. My lovely amazing bridesmaids are taking me there for my bachelorette weekend next month and I can’t wait. NOLA has a culture all to its own – you won’t find another place on earth like it. Music pours into the French Quarter streets literally 24 hours a day. The city developed under huge African and French influence (peppered with a little Native American, Spanish, and Cuban, I believe), and it is such a cool combination that is present everywhere. From the architecture to the food to the language, the culture is truly unique to NOLA. It is vibrant and friendly, the food is amazing, and it always feels like a party is about to break out wherever you are. I love that town so much.

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3. Caye Caulker, Belize – Belize always seems like it’s super far away, but in reality it’s only a few hours by plane. It’s a tiny country that is absolutely stunning. The beaches have perfectly white sand and crystal clear water. Belize boasts a huge barrier reef segment, and Caye Caulker is an island really close to that. It’s great for backpacking – low prices, gorgeous scenery, and totally off the beaten path. This is an island where you’re going to hang with locals and backpackers alike, united by the need to just be away from the rest of the world. The entire island is about 4 or 5 miles long, and way smaller than that across. It really is tiny. Also, if you’re ballsy, you can take an excursion to go scuba diving near the Great Blue Hole.

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4. Providenciales, Turks & Caicos – You may have figured this out by now, but I have a thing for remote island beaches that are on the deserted side. I like to enjoy a beautiful landscape without seeing a ton of strangers tanning themselves nearby. The exception to that would be Turks & Caicos. It doesn’t matter how many people are near you (and trust me it’s nothing like going to the Jersey shore), nothing can interrupt the peaceful serenity of the pristine beaches that even a high amount of tourism can’t destroy. Providenciales is one of the more populated areas of Turks & Caicos, but who the hell cares. This place has so many luxury resorts and swanky places to fan yourself in that you won’t care how many people are also enjoying a deep tissue massage at a 5-star spa.

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5. Havana, Cuba  – I have never been to Cuba, but that does not stop me from fantasizing about going there. Now that the tourism ban has been lifted and we are all free to travel to Cuba, I am totally planning on doing so as soon as I’m able. I really hope the image of old ladies smoking cigars while serving me grilled meat and beer is based in reality. Cuban food is so delicious that I think that would be reason enough to visit alone, but paired with salsa dancing and gritty roots, what’s not to love? I am hoping I get to check it out before it becomes Americanized and owned by Disney.

Ok, that’s enough daydreaming for one day. Every time I get a case of the winter blues I’m going to take a time out and think about rum drinks and dinner of fish caught 20 feet from where my beach lounger is located.

Bon voyage,

Jill

A self-proclaimed beauty junkie/hoarder with a serious Sephora problem. After years with Birchbox, she now has a subscription box problem as well. Her free time is a mixed combination of cats, TV, and finally trying to figure out how to do her hair.

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