From Thanksgiving and Christmas to Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve, the holiday opportunities at the end of the year beckon almost everyone in the United States to either head back home to be with loved ones or be the home that fills with loved ones. AAA predicts over 40 million of us will hit the roads and skies for Thanksgiving travel alone, and millions more will travel again for December’s festivities.
Regardless of the reasons, many people find the get-togethers that mark the holidays lacking in appeal, which can make for a bit of a quandary when it comes to the time off from work most people are allotted. If you’re unenthused about eating Aunt Shirley’s Waldorf salad and running into people from high school, why not skip the home fires and indulge in some wanderlust during theend-of-the-year holiday lull?
If you’ve got some vacation time coming over the holiday season and you don’t want to go home, here are six vacations you can take instead.
1. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, the beach paradise of Puerto Vallarta promises to be warm and luxurious during the holiday season. Not only will you escape the cold that’s likely to be hounding most of the United States, but it’s pretty likely you’ll find a good deal on a flight, too. Check Aircharter.com or Flights.com for a wide variety of options. Work on your tan and your Spanish while you enjoy the beach, the boardwalk, and snorkeling in the Los Arcos National Marine Park.(Image by MDIANEM)
2. Quebec, Canada
For the holiday escapist who still wants a white Christmas, a trip to Quebec is in order. Breathtakingly picturesque, the city is at its best around the holiday season thanks to its festive feel, cobblestone streets, perfect blankets of snow, and charming snippets of French that float in and out of the air like sonic snow flakes. Dress warm, and dust up on your ice skating skills for a vacation that will keep your holiday spirit intact.
3. Canary Islands, Spain
For milder weather that stays between 60 degrees and 70 degrees during late November and December, the Canary Islands are hard to beat, and if you’re coming from anywhere near the Midwest, Northeast or Northern parts of the United States, 60 degrees is going to feel amazing. And, because the less than steamy temperatures make for a mediocre beach experience compared to the height of the Canary Islands’ tourist season, hotels and flights are often very affordable. Take a camel tour, and rubberneck at 16th century architecture, while taking long walks along some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Still a quintessential destination to escape from cold weather, a trip to Jamaica around the holidays will refresh your tired spirit and body in no time. A laid-back culture, warm weather, and easy living make Jamaica a perfect getaway for the American looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Laze on the beach with a paperback novel. Eat scrumptious jerk chicken, and indulge in rum punch. From waterfalls and all-inclusive resorts to rainforests and healing springs, Jamaica has something for everyone.
5. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, Belize
If you’re looking for a trip that will take you a little further off the beaten path, consider heading to Belize. Just off the coast of Belize City, the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are small, subtle, and slow-paced. Golf carts make do as taxis since most of the islands are unpaved, and the scuba diving and snorkeling are considered to be among the best in the world.(Image by Dave C.)
Most people on the islands speak English, which will also make your stay simple and straightforward, and the food is delicious. Rice and beans, tamales, meat pies, and plenty of seafood abound, so you won’t feel like you’ve missed out on any holiday feasting.
6. Kaikoura, New Zealand
The end of the year finds Kaikoura at its summertime zenith. Christmas is celebrated at backyard barbecues, and you can spend your days hiking in the rainforest, sunning on the beach, or enjoying Kaikoura Bay, which is one of the world’s most diverse marine environments. Go whale watching, and spy sperm whales, pilot whales, dolphins, and seals-not your average holiday experience to be sure, but one that will make for an unforgettable time nonetheless.
If you don’t want to go home for the holidays, don’t fret about it. Book a trip to one of these six destinations, and have the time of your life.
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Feature image by The Visual Poet