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Five value destinations for winter travel

By Stacie Van Dyke, Special to CNN
Travel agents recommend Costa Rica as a great winter getaway. This postcard like photo shows the Osa Peninsula.
Travel agents recommend Costa Rica as a great winter getaway. This postcard like photo shows the Osa Peninsula.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Many airlines are increasing service to Latin America, making it a great value
  • While travel prices tend to be rising, it is getting less expensive to travel to Boston
  • London and Paris are just as beautiful in the winter, but offer better values and fewer tourists
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(CNN) -- Looking to get away this holiday season? Who better to find the deals than agents catering to notoriously cash-strapped students?

We spoke with Patrick Evans of the student travel agency STA Travel, Danielle Carlson of StudentUniverse and Anne Banas of Smarter Travel, who offered recommendations for five places around the globe that offer an especially great value for trips from December 1 through January 25.

The first two weeks of December and the first week of January are known as "dead weeks" in the travel industry, and are the "absolute best time to travel in the entire year," Banas said.

So why not follow college students during their winter break to visit awesome destinations at low prices?

1. Costa Rica

With an average temperature of 72 degrees during the winter, travelers will enjoy a wonderful climate during a holiday retreat to Costa Rica.

Visitors can explore tons of outdoor activities including beaches, canopy tours and national parks.

"Latin American countries are a great value right now because a lot of airlines are increasing service to these locations," Banas said. Carlson added that Costa Rica is her company's top selling Latin American location, followed by Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Lima, Peru.

2. Lima, Peru

Speaking of Lima, why not spend winter break visiting the largest city in Peru?

Adventurous travelers can venture beyond the metropolis to explore the jungle, climb the Andes Mountains, and discover the lost city of the Incas.

"Air travel is great in Lima, with tons of low-cost carriers flying there," Banas said.

Check out other great travel tips and destinations at Five To Go

3. Panama City, Florida

Panama City and neighboring Panama City Beach aren't just for spring breakers. Indulge in shopping, helicopter tours, or spend a day at Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.

With highs in the 60s even during winter, there's always something to do in the area. Florida also boasts another destination with good values during winter break: Orlando, Carlson said.

Many of the major attractions in the area offer deals this time of year. You can avoid the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds right after the New Year's holiday, when theme parks often reach capacity.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

"Boston is really, really cheap and affordable to get to," Banas said.

While travel prices tend to be rising nationwide, it is actually getting less expensive to travel to Boston.

"Jet Blue is now using Logan Airport in Boston as a secondary hub," Banas explained.

Additionally, AirTran has had a strong presence in Boston, and with Southwest just starting to fly into the airport last year, it makes Logan a powerhouse of low-cost airlines.

So if the cold doesn't bother you, winter break would be the best time to come check out the museums and all this city has to offer.

5. London, England, and Paris, France

Wave at the Queen during a trip to London or visit Paris for some pastries and French berets.

"For Europe, we're seeing a huge interest in flights to London, with Paris ranking second," Carlson said. Additionally, London and Paris are among StudentUniverse's top destinations in Europe for hotels offering a great value.

"British Airways is offering some crazy cheap hotel packages, with roundtrip flights from 20 major U.S. cities and two nights in a London hotel for $412 if you book by November 3," Banas said.

London and Paris are year-round destinations, so why not visit during the off-season for tourists?

"During the winter travel months -- excluding holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas -- many of the European destinations are going to be just as beautiful as they are during the summer, but with less tourists you'll have shorter lines for the sites and often find more welcoming local businesses since they aren't overrun with tourists," Evans said.

In fact, December is said to be the best time to visit France, as the already beautiful country is decorated with lights, holiday ribbons, and is full of Christmas markets.

Banas said the post-holiday deals are often posted right after Thanksgiving. Add that to your Black Friday shopping list!