Press Pause on the Holiday Hype

While Christmas carols claim it is “the most wonderful time of the year,” for some, the holidays can feel like the most draining time of the year. There never seem to be enough hours in each day. Calendars fill up with too many concerts, parties and stressful family and work gatherings. December is the perfect time to pack your bags and get away from it all on a holiday destination vacation.

According to David Yockey, an Independent Travel Consultant affiliated with Provident Travel, vacations during the month of December are often motivated by sunshine. Yockey says it takes too long to get to the Caribbean, so the most popular warm weather destinations are in Mexico: Cancun and the Mayan Riviera.

“In only 2 1/2 hours of travel, you can count on Mexico to be a warm getaway,” he says. There are two charter companies that have weekly departures from Cincinnati that head for these popular, exotic locales, which is beneficial to travelers.

“When you can get a direct flight to your destination, it cuts down on travel time,” says Yockey. “Less travel time means more vacation time. Another thing people do during the winter are cruises,” he says. “Cruises are always popular at this time of year.”

In December 2013, Kathryn Gruver wasn’t craving warm weather, but she did long for some girl time. As an engineer surrounded by male coworkers, a wife and mother of two teenaged boys, Kathryn lives in a man’s world.

“I wanted to go on a girl trip for my 40th birthday, but I didn’t do it. On my 41st birthday, I complained about it to my husband. He said, ‘Why don’t you go now?’” They made an agreement that if she could find just one other woman to go with her, she should go. The next time she was at church, she leaned into the pew in front of her to greet a friend. Spontaneously, she asked her, “Hey, do you want to go on a cruise?” Without even a moment of hesitation, her friend replied with a resounding, “Yes!”

“I couldn’t believe it!” Gruver says. “The first person I asked, my very first try, and I got a yes!” It was meant to be. Gruver’s birthday dream was being realized. The timing was perfect for a holiday break for her friends. When word got around, the trip quickly grew from two to a party of six.

That December, in 2013, the church friends took a three-day cruise with Royal Caribbean International that left from Miami, Florida for the Bahamas. For those three days, the crew of six from Cincinnati shopped for holiday gifts, toured Nassau on Segways and enjoyed a relaxing day on a private island.

“It was really nice to get away at Christmastime. It forced me to take a break from all of the holiday stuff. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the best time to cruise,” says Gruver. “It’s the cheapest time to cruise.” It was a win for the December birthday girl who got both birthday and holiday celebrations on her floating party.

“The ship is decorated for the holidays: menorahs for Hanukkah, snowmen, garland, Christmas trees. I didn’t see Santa, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up in the kids’ area of the ship,” she says.

Kelly Buchheit followed the 2013 cruise on Facebook from home, living vicariously through pictures during an Ohio snowstorm. This time, she is going along.

“I want to take a breath-just a pause-before the holidays,” she says with a deep sigh.

It was hard for Buchheit to allow herself that pause, until she realized that none of the other busy, working women appeared to have time for it either. She decided to just do it.

“As women I think we always put ourselves last. I am looking forward to having fun and connecting with this great group of women,” she says. “I have never been on a trip like this. I am equal parts excited and curious about how the group will meld together. I’ve had to do zero planning-Kathryn organized it all via Facebook-which makes it even better at this time of year.”

Gruver embraces her new holiday-birthday tradition.

“I plan on a birthday cruise from now until forever!” she says. The cruise crew departs for the second annual getaway in mid-December.

No matter what motivates you to make your escape, December destinations await you. Whether it’s warm weather or deepening a warm friendship, time away from the pressure of the holidays can soothe your soul.