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Get Away for the Holidays

by Celece Krieger

The holidays are here and before you know it, you will be planning menus, grocery shopping, and setting the table for Thanksgiving. Before the dishes are dry, holiday shopping begins, and you are busy trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. It is an entire month full of shopping, baking, attending parties – and to be honest – a lot of work. What if you did not have to do that this year, or even next year? What if you decided to give the gift of travel and depart on a relaxing vacation instead?

Many families opt to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas on a cruise. It is as simple as choosing your dates of travel and your itinerary. Just because you are in the middle of the ocean on a floating resort, does not mean you should give up holiday traditions. The ships are lavishly decorated, special activities are planned, and gourmet holiday meals are served. No yams with marshmallows or mystery casseroles here. On a cruise, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner will be prepared by a professional chef, served by attentive waiters, and someone else is in charge of washing dishes for a change. Don’t think Santa Claus will miss you on the ocean. Rudolph knows how to find each ship, and Santa makes a special appearance onboard. At each port of call, experience traditions, décor, and holiday treats from a variety of cultures.

Maybe you don’t want to cruise during Christmas, but want to experience holiday traditions abroad. Imagine Christmas shopping at the famous Christmas Markets in Vienna, Passau, Regensburg, and Nuremberg. See where so many Christmas traditions began on a Danube river cruise. Sail through the Wachau Valley and Bavarian countryside with stops at cathedrals, guided tours, and of course, time to find specialty items and handicrafts at the world-famous Christmas Markets. The loved ones on your Christmas list will cherish the unique gifts, and you will experience holiday traditions like no other.

If Europe is too far away, there are plenty of memorable holiday vacations stateside. Kick off the holiday season in the Big Apple. Stay in the beautifully decorated Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the heart of Manhattan. See the world-famous Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes at the Radio City Music Hall, the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, Broadway shows, and don’t forget the shopping! From Chinatown to Fifth Avenue, there are gifts for that hard-to-buy-for person on everyone’s list.

If celebrating in a city is not your ideal vacation, why not consider an escorted tour? The Branson Musical Holiday rings in the holiday spirit with special performances by Branson’s best performers. Other popular holiday itineraries include Country Christmas at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel, Southern Charm in Savannah, San Antonio Riverwalk, and New England Yuletide Treasures.

Christmas is not the only time to celebrate. Ring in the New Year at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, a tradition since 1890. Many tour itineraries include reserved seating for prime viewing of the parade route, and a special time to preview the floats. Special New Year’s Eve celebrations are included and feature dinner dances and live entertainment, topped off with a special toast. What a wonderful way to celebrate the season!

Giving yourself or your loved ones the gift of travel for the holiday season is something that will create lasting memories for years to come. It is not a material possession that can be lost, broken, outgrown, or forgotten.