Travel-Free Christmas Holidays

Staying close to home, is always an option around Christmas and New Year’s Eve and plenty of fun is still on tap.   Travel is often at a premium and many revelers just like to keep things relaxed and easy.  So, here’s a list of some Christmas and holiday sightseeing options across the globe:

Las Vegas hosts America’s Street Party with The Boulevard closing to vehicles at 6p so that folks can line up for New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Berlin – if you call Germany home and want to splurge on a Christmas treat, how about a private tour of the Neues Museum?  The Neues is one of Berlin’s most prestigious museums, hosting numerous ancient artifacts including the world-famous Bust of Nefertiti.  Prices through December 23rd start from €1600 (approx. $1,998) and can also be booked on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for an additional charge.  Click here for more info on Christmas in Berlin.

NYC – Escape the city with a holiday tour of The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum’s hidden collection just north of Times Square.  It sits in the 66 acre Fort Tryon Park and is as close to visiting western Europe as you can get without hopping on a plane.

Cornwall – Visions of sweeping landscapes and rugged waves come to mind for England’s Cornish coast but come holiday time, Cornwall becomes a cozy community.  It’s full of twinkling harbors and festivals of light.  You can enjoy Christmas fairs and Santa Fun Runs as well.

Philadelphia – How about a Foodie Fun run around the City of Brotherly Love?  A food tour of Philly can result in some sweet holiday memories.

Disney – both at the west coast Disneyland and Orlando’s Disney World, tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are a very hard get.  But whether you’re 2 or 102, there’s plenty to do to celebrate the holidays.  Frozen is front and center in a big way this year at the Disneyland resort with the characters Anna and Elsa appearing daily in the Christmas Fantasy Parade.  Lines before Christmas week are actually shorter and in Orlando, there is nothing quite like watching the Osborne Family Christmas Lights twinkle as you sip hot chocolate and watch snowflakes fall in Florida!  It’s Disney, just suspend your disbelief and follow the fairies!

Looking to get away for the holidays?

Let our travel concierge help you plan and book.

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Less for More awaits Frequent Flyers in 2015

Looks like the grinch is is grabbing hold of some frequent flyer programs and passengers may be none the wiser as the new year approaches.  United’s MileagePlus Frequent Flyer program is instituting a major change to the way you earn rewards as of March 1, 2015.  You will no longer be rewarded for actual miles flown.  Wait. What?  Yes, that’s true and the airlines have not made the change too readily available.  Oh yes, there are others.  Delta SkyMiles is also going this route as of January 1, 2015.

In the new year, frequent flyers will only be rewarded for dollars spent on their fare.  Further, it won’t be the total fare but only the portion of the fare and any surcharges imposed by the airlines.  Can you just see the miscalculations which will ensue since taxes and airport fees can be as much as one-third of the total cost of the ticket.  Whose calculator will we be using?

Now let’s look at how that will play out on a New York to Rome round trip flight:

Actual miles flown on the direct JFK – FCO route is about 8,520.

Frequent Flyer woesIn June 2014, that roundtrip fare cost approximately $1800, $600 of which was taxes.

Using the new United formula, a MileagePlus member at the basic level would now earn ONLY 6,000 points and NOT the 8,520 miles as for past decades.  But wait, it gets worse.

If you were to fly from JFK to Rome with a stop in Dublin to change planes, since a 1-stop flight can save you lots of money on your fare, you would get about 8,720 actual miles.  Under the new plan, the airfare hovers around $812 this March, of which $200 are taxes.  Using the MileagePlus calculator, a basic frequent flyer will only earn 3,060 for the same trip which earned them 8,720 miles just a few months earlier.

But there’s also a caveat.  Isn’t there always?  If you buy the ticket with a Star Alliance or other MileagePlus partner airline and the ticket has a number that starts with ANYTHING BUT “016,” then you will still earn actual miles flown.  And who has ever seen the “Ticket Number” prior to actually purchasing the ticket? Oh, 2015 promises to be full of joy for those who take to the skies.

It will leave frequent flyers to decide whether to pay the higher fare just to get more miles or pay a lower fare and take much longer to earn a round-trip reward to anywhere worth flying to.

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A Gilded Christmas in Newport

Visiting Newport at Christmas time is liking stepping back 150 years to America’s Gilded Age when the Vanderbilts, Astors and DuPonts held court in high finance and society.   It became a seaside resort of opulent summer cottages in the days when $1,000,000 was worth a million and there was no IRS.  Today, Newport still echoes with the grandeur of those gilded mansions and the soirees which danced through their halls and the belle of that ball is undoubtedly The Breakers at Christmas time.

The Breakers at Christmas

While other mansions are decked in holiday decor, The Breakers takes Christmas to an elegant level, especially at night.  Night visitors are greeted by singing carolers, while spiked eggnog and cookies, even Santa await inside.  It’s almost as if the Vanderbilts were still in residence and entertaining you as their guest for the holidays.

In a break with daytime tour rules, holiday evening guests may take photos inside the Great Hall bedecked with more poinsettias than a southern hothouse and bejeweled with more glitz and sparkle than a drag queen’s dressing room.  Put on your party clothes and grab your Christmas photo where Dukes and Duchesses once waltzed.  As a side note, the spiked rum and chocolate brownies are just the yummy icing on the cake for a delightful evening in Newport.  Christmas at The Breakers runs through January 4, 2015.

TOURIST TIPs:  The closer you stay to the center of Newport, the marina and Banister’s Wharf, the more you will pay for a hotel room, even off season.  Instead, head to Middletown and try the delightful Newport Beach Hotel & Suites.  It’s part of the Historic Hotels of America and its new all-suites annex offers wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean and is great for a girlfriend getaway or family retreat.

Across from the Newport hotel is the Atlantic Beach Club (55 Purgatory Road, Middletown) where $15.95 will get you a spectacular Sunday brunch buffet.  Both the hotel and restaurant are open all year.

Posted in Girlfriend Getaways, Holidays, Rhode Island, Solo Travel for Women Blog, Time Travel, United States, Wanderlust Women, Weekend Getaways | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment