DeWitt: Escape the madness, plan ahead for holiday travel

By Marci DeWitt - Contributing Columnist

Deck the halls! No, wait, it’s still summer, but right around the corner is the holiday season.

Jam packed malls and Black Friday are not too far away. Cleaning, decorating, baking and cooking are in your future unless you can find a way to escape. It’s becoming increasingly common for families, couples, and singles to escape the holiday madness and celebrate in style at some of the top destinations in the world. Sun-drenched beaches await as well as destinations with rich history and culture.

Resorts and hotels are catching on to the trend of people traveling for the holidays. Decorations abound and many vendors plan special dinners, themed parties, and events, including visits from Santa to keep everyone in the holiday spirit.

I’m always surprised on the number of calls I get mid-December from people who decide that they want to travel for the holidays. Let me offer some tips to help you if you are considering the “Great Escape.”

Book now: I’m not kidding. Many seasoned travelers have had their holiday getaway booked for a year. Hopefuls who wait until December to score last minute deals are usually disappointed to find out these are almost nonexistent at that time. Disney Holiday Cruises started selling out in January and have many 2018 cabins already reserved. Remember that the price of flights and hotel room is always based on availability. As they start to book up, the prices increase. Give your wallet a break by booking in advance for a better rate, and to get the room category, resort, or flight itinerary you desire.

Payment Plans: Another benefit to booking early is the option to make payments, because it costs more to travel during December. While you still usually have to pay for your airline ticket up front, most resorts, cruise ships, and tour operators allow you to make a deposit. Final payment is typically due two to three months before your travel date, leaving you plenty of time to save or make payments on a monthly basis.

Consider Alternative Destinations: Spend the week in Budapest, Hungary, or Prague. These beautiful and affordable European gems are often overlooked for more popular and more expensive cities such as London and Paris. Each have the charm and wonder of the great European cities, with excellent food, rich history, and breathtaking architecture. Plus, they are decked out with decorations, lights, and Christmas markets.

If you are still craving the island getaway, consider a trip to Thailand’s beautiful islands or the party beach city of Phuket. The water is clear and the warm weather is perfect. Use your holiday vacation as a chance to explore a unique destination.

Be Flexible: Airports are crowded and if you can travel earlier in December and/or return on a day other than Jan. 2, you’ll save yourself time and money.

A holiday getaway with your family, friends, or by yourself is a wonderful gift, creating a lifetime of memories that are truly priceless. I’m sure that you will have a blast no matter where you go!

Next week: How important is a Passport?

By Marci DeWitt

Contributing Columnist

Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at

Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at