Solo Travel for the Holidays

by Gray Cargill on December 10, 2008

Earlier this week, I noted that those of us who are single have several choices for how we can spend the holidays–which, if you think about it, is pretty awesome.  People who aren’t single don’t have as many choices.  If you’re a mom of three, for instance, you can’t chuck it all and go to Tahiti while your kids are at home waiting for Santa to show up, can you?  Even if you don’t have children, you and your partner usually have to decide whose family to spend the holidays with, or divvy your time up between (probably dysfunctional) families.  (Have you seen Four Christmases? Yikes.)

For those of us singles who are sick to death of being grilled at family events about “when we’re going to get married”; or who are sick of being the third wheel at our coupled friends’ holidays; or who are sick of being the one who has to cover the office because everyone else has family plans but us; and who really can’t stand sitting home alone on the holidays, this happens to be a great time of year to get away from it all.

Okay, the flying part might not be so fun.  The days around holidays tend to be busy for airlines, the weather has the potential to ground your flight, and there is a better than average chance you’ll wind up with a screaming baby or seat-kicker behind you on the plane. But don’t let the chance of those things happening stop you. To make that part of it easier, definitely check out these tips (“What to Know Before You Go”) from the Transportation Security Administration.

But, you say, if you’re not going to visit family or friends, wouldn’t you feel lonely, surrounded by couples and families having fun?  Not necessarily, but that’s up to you.  As to where you can go, the world’s your oyster.  But if you need some help brainstorming, here’s a list to get you started:

For the quintessential big city holiday:

Holiday decor in NYC

Holiday decor in NYC

New York City:  Ah, the hustle and bustle of Broadway and Times Square.  Go ice skating and enjoy the tree and decorations at Rockefeller Center, go see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or Ballanchine’s Nutracker ballet, treat yourself to a carriage ride around Central Park, and indulge in some after-Christmas sales while checking out the department store window displays.  Go see the Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre.  Or hear some great live music at BB King’s Blues Club.  If you’re really feeling brave (and have a bladder like a camel), stick around and ring in the New Year in Times Square with a few hundred thousand new friends!

For the quintessential country holiday…..

Vermont:  What did you think I was going to say, New Hampshire???  If images of horse-drawn sleighs and cocoa in front of a fireplace while soft white snow falls outside the window is your image of the perfect Christmas, give us a try.  We can’t promise the snow (that’s Mother’s Nature’s job), but the ski resorts in Vermont will do their best to provide the rest (and manmade snow, if necessary).  Try Stowe or Killington if you want to be near a ski mountain for outdoor fun, or Burlington if you’d prefer more cultural activities during your stay.  Check out my SoloFriendly Burlington, VT pages for ideas of things to do while here.

For a “viva las holiday”….

Fremont Street

Fremont Street

Las Vegas: I’ve been following hotel prices in Vegas for the past seven years and over the last couple of months, I’ve been seeing the best prices I’ve seen since right after September 11.  Be aware of the fact that many shows are dark this time of year, as casts take time off to celebrate the holidays.  Also, it’s not exactly pool weather.  But there’s still plenty to see and do in Las Vegas.  This is a 24/7 town.  You won’t be bored and you should be able to find other people to bond with over blackjack or a drink at the bar. Las Vegas visitors tend to be very friendly; it’s not hard to make new friends here.  Do be sure to check out the holiday displays at the Bellagio, Venetian, and Wynn, among others.

For a Cajun Christmas……

New Orleans:  That’s where I’ll be this year!  New Orleans welcomes holiday visitors with discounted “Papa Noel” hotel rates, special Reveillon menus at area restaurants (for great prices!), decorations all over the French Quarter, caroling, free concerts at St. Louis Cathedral, and of course, live music every night, and lots of southern hospitality!  Or so I’ve heard.  This is my first trip.  But I can’t wait!

For the most magical holiday in the World…..

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Disney World:  Sure, you’ll be surrounded by other people’s families, but you’ll also become a part of Disney’s family.  Enjoy the fun and magic that is Walt Disney World, magnified by a thousand!  Disney does Christmas like no one else.  Enjoy the Osborne Spectacle of Lights in the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, special holiday parades, and don’t forget to take the time to visit the many resorts to see their Christmas decorations.  Top it off with the usual fun rides and shows, some shopping in Downtown Disney and fireworks, and you’re sure to have a blast. Believe it or not, there are still rooms availabe on site for this holiday season.

For a Dickensian Christmas….

London:  While many popular tourist attractions are closed for at least some days during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, you can still see them from the outside.  But if you’re looking for something to do on Christmas Day, try this Christmas Day Charles Dickens London Walk.  Or go for a walk on your own–you’re bound to have the streets mostly to yourself.  Other things to do this time of year:  Get some mulled wine and gingerbread at the Traditional German Christmas Market at Hyde Park.  Go ice skating.  Enjoy the Boxing Day sales. For more ideas, check out Christmas in London 2008.

For a hot feliz navidad…..

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico:  Enjoy a lazy Christmas Day lying on the beach or strolling on the boardwalk, sipping pina coladas.  Many tourist-oriented businesses (such as restaurants and bars) will be open on Christmas Day.  After the holiday, enjoy whatever activities you normally would on holiday in Mexico–whale watching, an ecotour, ziplining, shopping, sightseeing, dancing until dawn.  Or more lying on the beach sipping pina coladas.  There are no rules about how you are supposed to spend the holiday.  Just enjoy yourself.

Happy Holidays!

Postscript:  I realize I have overemphasized Christmas in this article, because a) that’s the holiday I celebrate, and b) that’s the day that things are usually closed, which makes it a little tricky to be a traveler on that day.  I realize some people will be celebrating Chanukah or Kwanzaa or perhaps even Winter Solstice, but I’m not familiar enough with those holiday traditions that I can even recommend a destination or activities to substitute for a traditional holiday with the family.  I leave that to someone more knowledgeable than I.

El Cid Vacation August 12, 2010 at 6:39 am

nice! go backpacking here in mexico! you’ll never regret it 🙂

Brad December 11, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Great ideas! I like the warm weather ideas. Particularly WDW of course.

Brad December 11, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Great ideas! I like the warm weather ideas. Particularly WDW of course.

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