Wondering where to go for Christmas break? If you’re planning on traveling the last week in December, you’ll have plenty of company.
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That’s because during the period the U.S. Department of Transportation defines as the “Christmas/New Year’s holiday,” the number of long-distance trips (those 50 miles away or more) rises by 23% compared to the average number for the rest of the year. 1
Still, it’s not too late to book your trip if you first hone in on the kind of experience you’re looking for. Then, maximize the amount of time you have to relax by looking for spots no longer than a three-hour flight from the U.S. or, if you are traveling domestically, spots that are relatively near a major airport.
Another tip: Save money by paying with a credit card and using your travel rewards to offset the cost. The Discover it Miles card, for example, offers an unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent, and then matches all the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year (for new cardmembers only)*. So, if you spent $1,000 a month in the first year, you would earn 18,000 miles, and then an additional 18,000 with the match for a total of 36,000 miles. What’s more, you can redeem your miles to credit travel purchases from your statement â€” without blackout restrictions â€” for any expense in the â€œtravel” category, including hotels, car rentals, tours, mass transit and taxis. You can also redeem for cash in any amount, any time.**
Offered next are a few potential destinations, from beaches to mountains to a cozy and cultural “staycation.”
Feeling Tropical? Try the Bahamas
If you’re looking to lounge on the beach and watch the days drift by, this Caribbean hot spot boasts 700 islands and cays, and as a group are less than one hour’s flight from Miami. The capital city of Nassau offers the most direct flights.
What to do? With crystal-blue waters averaging 80 degrees year-round, there’s plenty, including water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing and jet-skiing.
- Adults without kids in tow may want to check out the Bahamas’ outer, more secluded isles, where the beaches offer soft, powder-white sand and lots of local dining spots.
- For a family vacation, you may want to stay on Paradise Island, where plenty of family-friendly hotels line the beaches. Organized “straw markets” offer shoppers great deals.
Heading West? Colorado Offers Options
Up for hitting the slopes? Head to Colorado. This mountainous state offers several ski areas near Denver. These include Echo Mountain, Loveland and Winter Park, the furthest of which is only 67 miles outside the city. Winter Park is known for family-friendly activities that include a tube park, snowmobiling and events like campfire sing-alongs and kids’ night out.
For those willing to drive a bit further, Beaver Creek (108 miles west of Denver) offers a more resort-like experience, with hundreds of acres, skiing lessons for every level and age, on- and off-mountain dining and shopping. Kids of all ages will enjoy WinterFest, with daily activities that include visits with Santa, Dickens Carolers and a carnival, as well as Beaver Creek’s daily tradition of serving warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Keeping It Simple? Celebrate Closer to Home
Don’t feel like traveling? Then stay put, enjoying the company of family and friends by indulging in activities you don’t get to partake in during the rest of the year.
Be Cultural. Depending on where you live, you might avail yourself of an afternoon spent at a local museum or art gallery, or head out for dinner and a show or musical production. The Great Museums website allows you to search by state, while local theatres present holiday-themed shows throughout the month of December.
Partake in a Food Tour. Don’t want to cook? Grab a group and go on a food tour, in which you visit a handful of restaurants and try a dish at each.
Whatever route you choose for your vacation, with some careful planning and budgeting, you’ll be prepared to enjoy the sights and experiences while, hopefully, saving some money in the process.
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*Discover Match: After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, we will match all the Miles you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the following one or two billing periods. If your account is closed or no longer in the Miles reward program at the time we calculate your potential award, your Miles will not be matched. You’ve earned Miles rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period. This promotional offer may not be offered in the future. This exclusive offer is available only to new cardmembers.
**Redeem Miles: Starting at 1 Mile, you can redeem for cash as a electronic deposit to your bank account or for a credit for Travel Purchases on your statement made within in last 180 days. Travel Purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites and commuter transportation. Redemption may not be available for approximately 24-48 hours if your card is reported lost or stolen. See Miles Terms and Conditions for details.