Tired of blizzards? Try these frugal ways to escape the winter cold.

Make the best of budget air carriers and cheap hotel deals to escape winter and claim your spot on a sandy beach. 

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After last weekend's record-setting blizzard, you're probably dreaming of a nice beach. I don't blame you, and I'm here to help. Here are my best tips and tricks for finding cheap ways to escape winter and claim your spot on the sand.

Choose Your Airline Carefully

Using a budget airline can save you big time, but you have to be smart about it. Photo via Flickr/woodysaeroimages

The "Big Three" airlines (Delta, American and United) are currently in a battle for customers with the new brand of ultra low budget carriers like Spirit and Frontier. These budget airlines are often derided in the media as unfair, because they charge extra for things that are usually bundled in the price of a plane ticket. But I know how to keep money in my wallet, so these kinds of airlines have become my best friends.

In order to save with a budget airlines, you need to know their fee structure inside and out. They WILL charge you for a carry-on and checked bag, but they WON'T charge you for a bag that fits underneath the seat in front of you. So if you take advantage of their fares, (which are often less than $200 for a round trip to the Caribbean or Florida), remember to pack light with a few swimsuits and t-shirts to get you through the weekend. Spirit flies all over the Caribbean,and even down to Colombia and Peru, and Frontier flies to a few destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Choose Your Hotel Carefully

If you can handle sitting through a timeshare pitch, you can save a nice chunk of change!

Many resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico are actually timeshares, so before you book anything, check and see if your package requires a timeshare presentation. In my experience, if it looks too cheap, it is probably a timeshare gimmick. Vendors like run trips like this. If you can play by the rules and don't mind taking a few hours out of your trip to hear their pitch, this is a pretty good way to save money. I've done them in Las Vegas and had a very cheap trip as a result.

If you're more of an all-in-one person, consider a package deal. Southwest Vacations offers many packages to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Belize, with their route map now expanded south.

If you're antsy to escape winter now, check out our latest deals on our travel page. I personally vet each one to make sure that they are in fact great deals! I'll be posting fare sales, package deals, and hotel discounts all through the winter until the thaw!

This article first appeared in Brad's Deals. 

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