The December holiday season is an extremely convenient time to take days off from work and go travel. It’s no surprise, then, that this time of year is also the most expensive and crowded time to vacation anywhere. Airfares around this time of year tend to drastically shoot up, and you’ll find many resorts and hotels imposing a minimum night stay restriction. Even with all these additional hurdles, the holiday season doesn’t really feel complete without its namesake: a great holiday. So what can you do?
Whether you’re a budget traveler looking for a quick and inexpensive getaway, or you’re someone who’s decided to go big this holiday season, here are some fun travel options you might want to consider:
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans comes highly recommended as a Christmas destination by Wendy Perrin. She states, “The Crescent City gets gussied up for the holidays and abounds with historic traditions such as Reveillon dinners in top French Quarter restaurants, caroling by candlelight in Jackson Square, Cathedral concerts, and bonfires on the levees on Christmas Eve.” New Orleans has a rich history and an amazing music culture that is only further highlighted during the holiday season. With accommodation options for every budget and an abundant nightlife, a road trip to this diverse city is a great way to spend Christmas and New Year’s without breaking the bank. You can even take some of its most famous cocktail recipes home with you.
Caladesi Island, Florida
If you’re looking to really get away from it all, look no further than Florida’s Caladesi Island. Called one of America’s top “secret islands,” Caladesi Island is a journey back in time, with no cars on the island. Getting there involves a ferry ride, and exploring the island is done completely on foot. Nature lovers and birding enthusiasts can enjoy the mangroves, sand dunes, and interesting bird life around the island. Kayaking, paddle boarding and other water activities are aplenty, and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets offer lots of golden hour opportunities for photography lovers. Caladesi Island is the ideal spot to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and rejuvenate your mind and body for the new year.
Las Vegas, Nevada
While Las Vegas is undoubtedly a party destination all through the year, December in Vegas makes for some epic and unforgettable events. The New Year’s Eve parties cater to any type of traveler — whether you’re looking to bring in the new year at an event hosted by one of the world top DJs, or hoping to hit the jackpot at the slot machines, there is no dearth on entertainment in the famed Sin City. If you need a break from making merry for days on end, you can spend a day at one of Las Vegas’ many top-notch golf courses, as well as other off-the-strip attractions. Las Vegas also acts as an ideal starting point for trips to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. Road tripping to and around Vegas will leave you spoiled for choice, and no matter what activities you engage in, Vegas promises a holiday you’re unlikely to forget.
Salt Lake City, Utah
If you’re looking for some serious white Christmas vibes, Salt Lake City is the place to be. With multiple ski resorts within a short drive’s distance, Salt Lake City and surrounding areas are an absolute winter wonderland. An added advantage is that the Salt Lake City airport is a Delta hub that business travelers don’t usually use over the holidays. This means that you can find relatively low airfares and hotel rooms, in what is otherwise an expensive time of year. Said to be one of the places with “the greatest snow on earth,” Salt Lake City is a surprisingly overlooked vacation spot for snow buffs.
Richly steeped in history and cultural, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t yearn to visit Paris. The French capital has many claims to fame, from high fashion, fine wine, quaint cafes and of course the Eiffel tower. It’s no wonder that Paris is listed as one of the most fashionable destinations of 2018. One of the best things about this city is its accessibility. Also considered one of the most walkable cities in the world, a few days of walking will enable you to see most of what this vibrant city has to offer. In fact, walking around is one of the best ways to admire local architecture while burning off the calories from all the yummy pastries you’re sure to indulge in.
Much like the rest of Western Europe, Paris is full of Christmas markets and seasonal events during the holiday season. It is one of the most beautiful cities to experience the quintessential white Christmas, so much so that Ernest Hemingway wrote of Paris on Christmas, “Snow is never more beautiful than in the city. It is wonderful in Paris to stand on a bridge across the Seine looking up through the softly curtaining snow past the grey bulk of the Louvre, up the river spanned by many bridges and bordered by the grey houses of old Paris to where Notre Dame squats in the dusk.”
St. Barths, Caribbean
It seems as though everyone goes to St. Barths in December. Why? According to US News, St. Barths in the winter affords travelers “heavy doses of sunshine and little chance of rain.” If you’re looking for an extravagant vacation, full of boutique stores, crystal waters, and sipping bellinis at sunset, then the Caribbean’s most expensive island is surely the place. Due to its popularity, last-minute options are few and far between when it comes to St. Barths, but who’s to say it’s too early to start planning for next year’s holiday season?
Sun, sand, and festivities that go on for days — Goa is India’s party capital. While getting to India in December might put a slight dent in your pocket, you can be certain that the dollar to rupee exchange rate will work in your favor upon arrival. Goa boasts accommodation options that cater to every type of tourist, ranging from backpacking-style hostels to over-the-top luxury seaside villas. Come Christmas time, you can expect to see palm trees studded with fairy lights brightening up India’s smallest state, which at only 3,702 kilometers squared is even smaller than many cities within the country. Whether you’re looking for a quiet New Years Eve celebration by the sea, or a night (or three) of debauchery, Goa’s seaside paradise will satiate any holiday desires!
Dubai’s reputation as one of the most luxurious cities in the world is not without reason. With the desert on one side, the beach on the other, and man-made snow parks, Dubai offers the best of all landscapes in one package. During December, the weather tends to be just perfect, ranging from the high 70s to low 80s. And if you’re craving the cold, Dubai’s 22,500-square-meter indoor ski resort inside a shopping mall won’t disappoint. Dubai boasts some glamorous hotels, restaurants by world-famous chefs, and almost every recreational activity you can imagine — be it skydiving, dune bashing, scuba diving, or even riding the world’s fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi (a 90-minute drive from Dubai). Emirates operates frequent flights to Dubai, and often has many deals for the holiday season — if you’re lucky, you can score a round-trip without having to spend too much.
So there you have it — eight great destinations to consider this holiday season. Here’s to hoping that this season is filled with love, laughter, and the ability to make some wonderful memories on your holiday!