Where can I get away from the holidays?
September 11, 2017 5:23 AM   Subscribe

For a variety of Reasons I want to avoid the winter holidays altogether this year. If I could afford it I would leave town the day after Halloween, but the best I can do is disappear some time around 12/20-1/3. If I could afford it I would go to Dubai or Tel Aviv or someplace with a *very* low Christmas threshold, but I don't have $1,500+ for a plane ticket. Where can I go affordably that will minimize holiday vibe?
posted by mccxxiii to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Hamtramck or Dearborn, Michigan seems like possible choices, given their large Muslim populations, but I have no idea if that just makes the Christians in town Christmas even harder or not. Worth looking into, anyway.
posted by clawsoon at 5:34 AM on September 11, 2017

Spain and Spanish territories have a different Christmas holiday. We've wintered in Tenerife which is very touristy and the only reminder was muzak in supermarkets. Most non-American and non-English places will have a very different take on Christmas which will make it seem like a different occasion. So perhaps South America?
posted by epo at 5:37 AM on September 11, 2017

L.A. is super secular, and you'll at least see different winter holidays celebrated.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:44 AM on September 11, 2017

Sounds like a great opportunity for an extended camping/backpacking trip, to me. Squirrels are pretty low-key about Christmas, in my experience.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:45 AM on September 11, 2017 [34 favorites]

What about Bangkok? You can find tickets for around $650 for that time of year, and it is affordable to stay/eat/see things.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:02 AM on September 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

WOW just published insane winter sale fares to Tel Aviv, you might take a look.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:24 AM on September 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Go camping in the US southwest, like outside Phoenix or in Death Valley.
posted by salvia at 6:40 AM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


(Wow, that one was posted September 10th last year - I guess this is when Holiday Dread really starts to set in!)
posted by mskyle at 6:52 AM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

My info is shaky, but I believe in Puerto Rico that Three Kings Day / Epiphany / Twelfth Night is the most important holiday date, and that falls after your date range. I don't know how much commercial cruft has grown up around the Dec 25th holiday.
posted by puddledork at 6:54 AM on September 11, 2017

Go black out in a casino in Vegas for a week. It'll be like Christmas never happened.
posted by trbrts at 7:03 AM on September 11, 2017 [10 favorites]

My first thought was Japan; there's definitely enough for a few weeks just on Honshu. A trip from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Shinkansen bullet train and back is about the same price as a 7-Day Japan Rail Pass, which would open up a lot more options. If you're happy to stick to one region, there are much cheaper regional options. Extensive details on all the passes here. New Year is a busy time but when we made a Tokyo-Takayama-Kyoto-Hiroshima trip around that time in 2015 with the pass, we had researched the trains we wanted in advance and made free seat reservations on our first day in Tokyo and got all but one of the trains we wanted (we were on a train ten minutes later instead!).

If you're on the East Coast, Morocco seems like a really good answer to your question - lovely countryside and great cities, delicious food, cheap on the ground, easy to get between main places via the train system(fantastic Seat 61 Morocco site here), relatively close to home so if you need to touch base with work or family you'll probably be awake at least some of the same time. Airbnb seems to be a good source to price accommodation; here's a $40-$50 a night place in the middle of Marrakech.

Albania and Kosovo are mostly Muslim; I have no idea what it's like to go there in the winter (and don't even know anyone who's been there!). Turkey is probably also worth considering - two weeks from Istanbul taking buses or driving down the Aegean coast would be a great way to get some winter sun and see some great classical history as well. Crete won't celebrate Easter until Orthodox Christmas on January 6 and will be very quiet, especially outside Chania/Heraklion.

Somewhat more adventurously:

- Tehran (American citizens can only visit Iran on organised tours; the tour company will help you sort out the visa) is under $800 away on Alitalia from JFK on your dates. Iran is incredible, great value and definitely one of the least Christmas-y places on this planet. This eight-day tour, which seems essentially all inclusive and visits Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kashan, Natanz, Abyaneh, and Qom (!), is €1290 and starts on December 23. Presumably they can get you a better deal on flights?

- Delhi is also under $1000 from JFK on Aeroflot on those dates; northern India would be dry and cool at that time of year as well. Indian visas are online now.
posted by mdonley at 7:03 AM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

We went hiking in Patagonia last year, if that sounds appealing to you. Gorgeous scenery, approximately seven zillion people, but no Christmas.
posted by quaking fajita at 7:20 AM on September 11, 2017

Just a heads up in case you find a great deal on a flight: you will see plenty of Christmas decorations in the hotels and malls in Dubai.
posted by gursky at 8:39 AM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Assuming you're flying from IAD (as your profile indicates you're in DC), and looking at the list of destinations you can fly to from there, I'd think about Morocco or Turkey. Turkish Airlines also has a wide variety of connecting flights through Istanbul, and it wouldn't surprise me if their fares are less affected by Christmas travel than Western European airlines.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:48 AM on September 11, 2017

Avoiding Christmas is non-trivial in the US and most places nearby. I think you will have better success if you go towards something. If you love the outdoors, go to Great Smoky Mtns. Nat. Park, get a cabin and hike a lot. Go on a driving tour of Women's Historical sites. Is there a place you've always wanted to go? Spending Christmas in Iceland would be cool and long nights offer the possibility of Northern Lights.

Along the the theme of focusing on something that is not Christmas, do a project. Make a quilt, sign up for an online class, read a difficult book. Wherever you go, load up the phone with awesome music and videos.
posted by theora55 at 9:14 AM on September 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

One year we spent Christmas in Cassopolis, Michigan, at a board member's house. (I was teaching at a private school; the board member offered his vacation house occasionally as a perk to teachers.) There was NOTHING going on. It was great.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 9:22 AM on September 11, 2017

I'd skip LA actually. Costco already has Christmas decor in stores, and you won't find any neighborhood that doesn't at least have lights on the houses, if not full decorations put up by the city on the street lamps.

You might try a place like a Buddhist retreat, or a silent meditation retreat. There are a couple in California, but there's probably one closer to you. Memail me if you need links.
posted by vignettist at 11:26 AM on September 11, 2017

I've frequently gone to Tecopa CA just outside of Death Valley during the Christmas holidays and soaked in the hot springs. That's as far from a holiday experience that I could find. It's also close enough to Pahrump NV to visit the casino there.
posted by IpsoFacto at 1:10 PM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hi, I also hate the winter holidays and am in DC. Over the years I've just developed an alternative ritual of making French onion soup and drinking bourbon that week. Lately DC isn't that bad for the holidays; everyone seems to leave town. It's a good chance to hang out with your Jewish friends . . .

If you're really looking to get away, the retreat idea is a good one. There are also a ton of cabins and short term rentals down in the Shenandoah valley which will get you away from it all.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:21 PM on September 11, 2017

A friend reminded me that there are deals on Christmas Day flights.
posted by theora55 at 12:35 PM on September 12, 2017

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