(BPT) - Do thoughts of the holidays make you yearn for home? For many people, spending time with loved ones in the comfort of their own home is an integral part of the holiday season. But there's something to be said for getting away from home for the holidays - and not just on a long drive to grandma's house.
Holiday travel can be rewarding on many levels, from the enjoyment of being with those you love in a great destination to the pleasure of letting someone else cook holiday meals and clean up after guests. Whether you're a single person looking to celebrate the holidays with friends, a family gathering members together from many states, or grandparents seeking a special time with the grand kids, a holiday vacation has a lot to offer.
One advantage can be cost. Many travel destinations that are typically thought of as summer vacation spots - like Myrtle Beach, S.C. - offer deals and incentives to travelers who visit during off seasons. When you travel between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, you can often enjoy a holiday vacation for significantly less than you would pay to visit in high season.
Convenience is another bonus, especially if you plan to celebrate with a large group. Coordinating schedules, preparing meals, hosting overnight guests, and keeping your home clean and decorated can be overwhelming. When you travel over the holidays, the housekeeping work, meal prep and cleanup gets done by hotel and restaurant staff - freeing you to spend more time enjoying your loved ones' company.
Holiday travel is also an opportunity to escape the weather. While holiday carols extol the virtues of a white Christmas, many people would enjoy a respite from snow and cold. Choose a destination in a region that's balmy all year long - like Myrtle Beach - and you can escape the worst of winter's chill. Myrtle Beach boasts 60 miles of coastline and some of the most breathtaking beaches on the coast. While you probably won't be able to go in the water, you'll still be able to enjoy walking, playing and collecting shells on the beach.
Entertainment and holiday celebrations are another benefit of traveling at this time of year. Many destinations decorate streets, stores, hotels and attractions in holiday finery. The decorations can boost your holiday spirits, and you can avoid the hassle of untangling strands of lights to decorate your own home.
Also look for a destination with shows, festivals and other celebrations to enhance your holiday enjoyment. In Myrtle Beach, for example, venues like the Alabama Theatre, Carolina Opry and Pirates Voyage all stage holiday-themed live entertainment. You'll also find the Night of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens, tree-lighting and a holiday parade at Broadway at the Beach, Christmas-themed dinner boat cruises, New Year's Eve celebrations and more.
If you're thinking of a holiday vacation this year, keep these tips in mind, courtesy of the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau:
* Book early. This is a tip that makes sense at any time of year. Airfares and hotel rates rarely go down as your travel date approaches. Booking early gives you plenty of time to comparison shop and find the best possible deal.
* Visit the destination's website. Take a look at the deals, in-market events and special promotions going on during the holiday season. The destination's official website is a great go-to source.
* Avoid traveling on peak days. For example, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the two days before Christmas Day are very busy times for airlines, and you may find airfare very expensive on those days. But travel on the holiday itself, and you'll likely find shorter lines and better prices.
* Pack smart. If you're flying, keep in mind baggage fees - most airlines are charging them now. If you're driving, you'll need to maximize space because chances are you'll be returning home with more stuff, like gifts and souvenirs. Plan carefully to only take what you need. For example, it might make space-saving sense to use the hotel's shampoo and conditioner rather than bring two big bottles in your luggage.
While the comforts of home have plenty of appeal for the season, traveling during the holidays can be another great way to share holiday cheer with those you love.