Finally some good news for Puerto Rico—it’s open for business! If you are considering taking a winter break consider going to some place where you can give the gift of sun and fun for yourself, but also where your dollars will make a real difference in helping the island rebuild. Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) is fully operational now and Rafael Hernández Airport (Aguadilla), Mercedita Airport (Ponce), José Aponte de la Torre Airport (Ceiba),Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (Isla Grande) and Antonio Rivera Rodriguez Airport (Vieques) have all started to offer limited service.
If however you are planning to make no travel plans at all this holiday season, you are not alone. A recent survey conducted by T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods examined how 2,000 Americans plan to spend the holiday and reveals most are looking forward to relaxing and skipping out on social obligations. Over half (59%) of respondents name relaxing at home as one of their favorite parts of the holiday season, while 62% can’t wait to binge their favorite movies and TV shows.
It seems that at this time of year people prefer staying put over traveling. Only 15% of respondents named traveling as an important part of their holiday traditions and only 8% stated they would like to go on a cruise for the holidays.
Well that’s not great news for the travel industry, but we get it for sure. Airports and highways can be stress inducing on any day, now add in extra crowds and the pressure of trying to have a “happy holiday” and just about everyone shudders to think about it.
But that doesn’t have to mean staying locked up inside with the cranky relatives. There are unexplored corners wherever you live and all you have to do is look for them. There are several ways of coming up with ideas of things to see and do on a stay-cation, even when you’re brain has been numbed by too much holiday nog and gift wrapping to think of one more thing.
1. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce. Even the smallest of towns and villages now have websites that will have events listed.
2. Survey your friends. Facebook has to be good for something other than family photos and political rants no? Ask for suggestions or become a member of the private Facebook page for your county or region (I promise you someone has set one up.) We used to make an annual pilgrimage to Twinkle Town, a really cheesy and over the top display of Christmas lights in the back of a nearby store. Kids loved it, but every time I mentioned it to another local they would tell me they never heard of it. (Sadly friends Twinkle Town is now a condo complex…maybe because not enough people knew it was there!) The point is if you don’t ask, you may never know about some very cool things just around the corner.
3. Hit the web. There are many sites that will help you find what’s happening nearby. A few favorites are: https://www.eventbrite.com, http://www.fieldtripper.com, http://www.fieldtripper.com, https://www.likealocalguide.com and of course foursquare.com. These are all sites that can also help you out when you are traveling away from home too.
Also look for things that are going to be fun but not break the bank either. Haven’t you already spent enough on the piles of plastic things that will be sitting under your tree or piled up next to the menorah this year?
I’m lucky enough to live just outside of New York City. No bias here, but it does happen to be the best city in the world although perhaps one of the most expensive too. But even here there are lots and lots of things that cost little or are even free including:
Ice Skating in Bryant Park –Just behind the Public Library there’s free skating when you bring your own skates right in the heart of Manhattan.
Go for a walk along the Highline— you never have to worry about being run over by a taxi on this elevated pedestrian walkway filled with art and completely different views of the city. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues.
Visit the Microsoft store on Fifth Avenue— In addition to checking out all the amazing decorations this time of year, the Microsoft store allows you to play virtual reality games for free and even test out the newest Xbox games.
Check out all the pop up shops—Even if you know every corner of NYC (really? who are you?) the dozens of pop up shops that have appeared around town are something new to check out. There’s a Yankee Candle (503 Broadway) luxury handbag designer Mansur Gavriel is at 134 Wooster Street until January 11, the best headphones in the world are at the Sennheiser shop until the end of February (134 Prince Street), you can make your own chocolate at Voila Chocolat (501 Lexington Ave) and you can test out everything Google at their pop up shop that runs until the end of December (501 Lexington Ave). Although not a pop up, we are also loving the Chobani stores (152 Prince Street and 255 Greenwich Street), where there are so many yummy and healthy things to eat.
Of course the tree at Rockefeller Center is a must, but there’s also a lovely one to check out down at the South Street Seaport too and if getting to Manhattan means crossing over a river, don’t forget that the Staten Island Ferry is Free and kids under 12 ride the New York Waterway for free through New Year’s Day.
Happy and safe travels wherever you go this year!