This one’s for you, Frank.
Yes, I am not a fan of the most wonderful time of the year. I’m not big into holidays, including—gasp!—Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy the part of seeing my family and friends. I just can’t get sentimental over the gimmicky traditions. Rather, I get annoyed.
My favorite radio stations are hijacked by infinite loops of Christmas carols. Every other house is strung in blinking or blinding lights (which is quite eerie during my 5AM runs). And you can’t go out for a simple errand without a constant reminder of “Happy Holidays!” by the clerk or a shopkeeper’s window.
Insert Scrooge McDuck face here.
That’s not all. The sun takes forever to rise in the AM and hustles to set in the PM. My morning runs are dark, my drive to work is dark, my drive home from work is dark. Everything is—you guessed it—dark.
Oh yeah, and December is the month of my birthday. But enough about that.
Sure, it’s cold and I often have to scrape the windows on my car in order to drive anywhere. But I would say that’s the least of my concerns.
I start to brace myself months in advance for the 31 days that is December. Some years it’s as early at the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, because I dread how quickly the days will shorten until it’s again December.
This year, it didn’t hit me until November. I was quite the workaholic in 2018 so I didn’t realize that I skipped out on my plans for a long weekend in the fall to see the leaves change in upstate New York until the leaves were brown and cluttering the sidewalks.
Should I Travel in December?
I was still matrixed in to my projects at work and I laughed out loud at the thought of leaving before the chaos of the holidays. But then I reviewed my PTO count and realized that I was close to earning my max hour count again.
So I decided to take a trip in December. Before the holiday parties at work. Before the drive home up north for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And definitely during my birthday.
I researched all direct flights and discovered Fort Lauderdale to be my most appealing option. And within 90 minutes, I had my flight booked and hotel room reserved.
Best decision I made in 2018.
For those that know me, I don’t like to spend money. I can easily talk myself out of dining out at a restaurant because I have food in the fridge. I can keep myself away from malls and I’m not tempted by online shopping sprees.
When it came to this trip in December, I did not care about the price. I reassured myself that I worked hard enough and saved enough throughout the year to earn a few days of pampering.
This trip wasn’t my usual speed. For those that follow my blog, you probably noticed my excursions usually involve driving hundreds of miles and staying at the cheapest hotel I can find (even my car!). And, of course, lots of National Park stamps.
But after throwing myself 100% into my work and my personal goals, all I wanted to do was to sit still.
Commit to the Trip
I said adios to my envious co-workers and boarded my Southwest flight with a couple of books and a free drink coupon.
I was VIP when I walked up to the hotel check-in counter and received my room key at 2PM. And this is the view I enjoyed from my balcony.
Most days I had no plans. I would wake up and decide what I wanted to do that day, then do it. One day, it was a deep tissue massage. Another day, it was a spa pedicure. Most days, it was reading my books poolside or at the beach.
And, of course, dine out for every meal.
I had a big adventure planned one day. I took part in an all-day excursion (thanks, Mom and Dad!) featuring an airboat ride through the Everglades for up-close views of alligators and zipping around Ten Thousand Islands to watch show-off dolphins swim around our boat and snowbirding pelicans banked on their exclusive shoreline.
I work in hospitality, so I couldn’t pry myself away from emails or last-minute deadlines. But I wasn’t bummed about working when I could listen to the ocean waves and seaside birds from my balcony.
Everything about my trip was lucky. I had smooth flights both ways. I no problems with my hotel room. Even the warm weather was unusually lucky, according to locals. The day I left was when the weather was dipping down again to cool, so I was at peace leaving paradise.
Why I Will Always Travel in December
We all have a month during the year that bums us out. For me, it’s December. And I was tired of feeling grouchy for weeks when I knew January or February wouldn’t be any better.
So I decided to take control of the situation. The only way I could cope with the situation was to take a step back.
Essentially, I ran away from my problems. And I plan to do it every year.
I was a different person when I came back. I was saying “happy holidays” back to people. I appreciated having lit sidewalks during my early morning runs thanks to the bedecked houses. I even indulged in a Christmas song or two.
I also look good in sweaters.
Traveling in December let me check out of the chaos and reassess what’s important in my life. I gave myself the gift of thought. I spent time cherishing what I treasured and reevaluating behaviors of mine that didn’t contribute towards my peace of mind.
Where will I go next year? I’m dabbling with the idea of Fort Myers. But I’m always open to suggestions. And free flights.