Where to spend the holidays often looms as a question mark when the calendar begins to wind down. Personal and financial obligations induce enough anxiety around this time of year, so here are some ideas to ease stress and eliminate guilt when it comes to where you celebrate the holidays.
For many people, the year-end holiday season means time off from work. This is a perfect chance to take a blow-out vacation and enjoy your favorite luxuries. Pairing the holiday season with a big trip takes away the pressure when you allow someone else to wait on you and your loved ones.
Consider flying on the actual holiday. When you travel on the big day, most people have already arrived at their destination; so, prices are lower and there are less people to contend with in airports. A few years ago, I flew on Thanksgiving Day. It was a breeze. No line at security checkpoints and the airports were nearly empty.
Maximize your days or weeks away from the office by going somewhere out of your norm. If you live in a climate where it’s wintry in November, December, and January, try hitting up the southern hemisphere to experience Christmas in summer. Instead of coats and hats, try surfing or camping in December.
Although certain destinations — warm locales and ski resorts — tend to hike prices during the holidays, if you’re flexible and avoid high-demand days, you can still snag a deal while you make new memories. Look for vacation packages that bundle air, hotel, and rental car. You can often find deep savings and reduce the hassle of coordinating separate reservations by booking them together.
Cruising is another option for a change of pace during the holidays. You’ll have access to entertainment and recreational activities, both on the ship and in each port of call. Plus, there’s plenty of food and drink to satisfy the variety of preferences in your group. Let someone else prepare the holiday meals while you relax and enjoy.
Over the River or Into the Woods
Maybe you can’t jet to Australia for a flip-flop holiday or hit the slopes in the Swiss Alps, but you’d still like to sneak away for a few days. Why not check into a bed & breakfast or rent a condo in a nearby town?
A good way to ease holiday stress is to take the work out of it. When you get away to an environment where someone else cleans the bathroom and makes the bed, there’s already less you have to worry about.
If you enjoy bundling up in flannel, sledding, and sloshing in snow, look for a cabin in the mountains where you can enjoy the holidays without everyday concerns weighing on your mind. Or, maybe you’d rather spend a few days at a farm stay. <
Another idea is to swap houses with a friend who lives a short distance away. You, and they, will reap the benefits of decompressing in new surroundings, without additional cost for accommodations.
Home for the Holidays
If you’re living outside your home country during the holidays, this can bring mixed feelings. Your home away from home may already feel like you’re on a holiday retreat, but perhaps you long for your familiar customs. How about staying in to cook your favorite meal, and inviting a few friends over? This is a fun way to mix local holiday traditions and share your own with those you’ve met abroad.
One the other hand, sometimes the family into which you were born determines the holiday agenda. The expectation is set and there’s no way around it. You always go back to your hometown and the days unfold the same each year. If tradition is set in cement for you, try to incorporate a new yet relaxing activity to another day. If Christmas Day is scheduled the same every year and suggesting a change will throw family dynamics into turmoil, try switching up the day after or the day before.
Go for a drive together. Visit a state park or historical site you’ve been too busy to explore. Look for ways to find a fresh perspective on the place that’s most familiar.
The holidays are a time for family, friends, and relaxation no matter where you choose to spend them. The place you land during the holidays doesn’t have to be a source of tension this year.
Photo credits: M Hooper, PoshMoggy, and BeverlyLR.