Places Experienced Travelers Avoid During Holiday Travel
Places Experienced Travelers Avoid During Holiday Travel
The holidays are an appealing time to plan a big vacation. Big cities are often hosting seasonal events and activities and are bursting with holiday charm through their decorations. And if you've saved through the year, you can afford a year-end splurge to celebrate this special time of year with the ones you love.
But experienced travelers know that certain places are more of a crowded nightmare than a winter wonderland. Some destinations become overrun with tourists and have outrageous rates for flights, hotel rooms and rental cars as well as admission fares or tickets for activities. On the other hand, other cities have miserable weather or become ghost towns because everyone leaves or businesses are all closed.
Your best bet for an enjoyable, relaxing Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's vacation is to avoid tourist traps and overrated, overcrowded locations, such as these 16 spots. Read on to discover the destinations you should absolutely not visit around the holidays.
Roy Caratozzolo III/TNS
As a chill enters the fall air, you might be tempted to book a holiday getaway to the sunny island shores of Hawaii. Unfortunately, thousands of mainlanders will have the same idea. Honolulu is already a pricey vacation destination, but with families, whale watchers and surfers descending on the capital city, rooms go for a high rate and must often be booked far in advance.
New York City, New York
There's no denying that NYC offers some cinematic sights during the holiday season, such as the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, meeting Santa at Macy's, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the stunning window displays in the different department store windows. But these attractions come with long lines, big crowds and hefty price tags for airfare, hotels, meals and tickets. According to Kiwi.com, the price of spending Christmas Day sightseeing in New York City is $762.34 per person, not including airfare, making it the most expensive major city in the world for Christmas. New Year's Eve is also a nightmare.
Tourists should avoid Christmastime in Rome unless they've planned months in advance. Most shops and restaurants as well as major sites and monuments are closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, with many also closed on December 26th for Saint Stephen's Day. Free tickets to the Pope's Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican are generally reserved two to six months in advance. The Pope also gives a Urbi et Orbi speech on Christmas Day that doesn't require tickets but does draw large crowds.
Park City, Utah
December to February are ideal times to visit Park City, Utah, in terms of snow for winter sports as it receives 150 to 200 inches of snow during these months. But thousands of people descend on the area for the Sundance Film Festival in January. And around the holidays sees equally large crowds, along with high resort rates, long lift lines and crowded slopes.
Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Theme parks in warm locations are never more crowded than during the winter break, when kids are out of school and parents are more willing to spend money on a special occasion. Disney World in particular is a crowded destination, with parks like Magic Kingdom regularly reaching capacity during Christmas Week. On Christmas Day and New Year's Eve 2017, the park was temporarily closed to single-day ticket holders because crowds were at a max, with people posting on social media that areas were gridlocked because it was so packed no one could move.
Much like New York City, tourists from around the world flock to London to take in the city's holiday charm. Already one of the most expensive cities in Europe to stay, shop and dine in, prices reach a peak around Christmas and New Year's, a phenomenon described as a "Christmas Tax." According to Australian comparison website Finder, London prices for hotels, dining and car rentals increase around the holidays by 12 percent compared to the rest of the year.
Thanksgiving kicks off the high tourism season in Cancun, with the biggest number of visitors arriving between Christmas and New Year's. Airfare and room rates can range from expensive to exorbitant with some resorts being filled to capacity.
Machu Picchu, Peru
If you're tempted to use you holiday break to visit a wonder of the modern world, you might want to avoid Machu Picchu in Peru. Between October and April is Peru's rainy season, and the area at the base of Machu Picchu is prone to flooding and mudslides that have been known to trap tourists for days. The ancient site is also being overvisited with thousands of visitors a day swarming the site, causing damage and erosion to the priceless structures and the Inca Trail. Peru's government issued restrictions in an attempt to space out crowds, so people could be properly supervised, but the effectiveness of this measure remains to be seen.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
December and January are the worst times to visit this metropolitan area as on average 30 days in December and 31 days in January will see below-freezing temperatures, according to the NOAA, with normal daily minimum temps in the single digits.
New Orleans, Louisiana
While New Orleans might not seem like an obvious holiday destination, it's reputation as a party city attracts many visitors looking to celebrate the holidays and New Year's in raucous fashion. Although it'll be less crowded and expensive than Mardi Gras or the Jazz and Heritage Festival, not much besides partying happens between Halloween and the buildup to Mardi Gras.
This popular ski resort town attracts high-rollers and celebrities as well as families and big groups around the holidays as they fall during the area's best powder months. Room rates and lift and rental fees skyrocket during the holiday season. Direct flights into Aspen are extremely expensive, and flying into Denver then driving 3 hours isn't a much better option. Some lodging options book up here a year in advance.
Cape Town, South Africa
In the wintertime, many residents of the northern hemisphere head south of the equator because destinations down south are in the middle of summer. Cape Town, South Africa, is an extremely popular Christmastime destination, meaning it will be both crowded and expensive and tours and lodging books up months in advance. Even with an extreme drought, international tourism to Cape Town increased 11.5 percent from December 2016 to December 2017.
Despite average low temperatures below freezing in November, December and January and only about five hours of daylight in December, Reykjavik, Iceland, is also the most expensive European capital for Christmas holidays. According to search engine TravelMyth, Reykjavik has the most expensive hotel rates at about $330 per night. Food and other daily costs are also ridiculously expensive, with the average cafe lunch costing up to $30, according to Lonely Planet.
Behind NYC, the second most expensive place to spend Christmas in the United States is the nation's capital. November to January is generally the city's slow tourist season, except around major holiday weekends, because temperatures can be quite frigid and winter storms can derail your plans to stroll outside and take in the sights. Inclement weather can also force certain attractions like the Smithsonian and the National Zoo to close.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sin City might seem like the perfect place to ring in the New Year, but everything from accommodations to activities are overpriced at this time of year, with tickets to the best shows and parties selling out months in advance. Christmas in Vegas is also overrated, as the garish casino decorations don't really make for Christmastime magic.
December and January are the most popular times to visit Miami, Florida, as the bustling city offers mild warm weather compared to winter storms hitting other parts of the country. If you come here for a sunny Christmastime getaway, you'll have to pay top dollar for airfare and hotel rooms and book months in advance to secure yourself a spot. Thanksgiving isn't much better, as November is the end of hurricane season.