The holiday season is upon us, so many travelers will soon take to the roads and skies. According to new data from PricewaterhouseCoopers, almost 47% of Americans will travel this holiday season.
Unfortunately, more demand equals higher prices and busier destinations. In fact, new Priceline data revealed Thanksgiving and Christmas travel is on pace to be the most expensive year to travel ever (inflation, jet fuel prices).
Prices for domestic flights are up 35%, international flight prices are up 44%, and hotel prices are up 11%.
Don’t worry, though.
If you’re strategic with your bookings, you could score some savings. For example, Priceline’s data also shows the cheapest days for airfare in the next three months will be the first five days of December.
You can also find lower-cost flights and discounts by traveling two to five days before or after each holiday. Additionally, there are still plenty of less in-demand destinations to visit if you want to warm up or get in the holiday spirit across the globe.
Of course, as COVID-19 and other respiratory infections like RSV are on the rise, it’s important to read the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and consider getting the new vaccine booster for added protection.
So, where should you go? Here are TPG’s eight best places to visit in December.
While Dubrovnik is mainly known as a summer destination, the destination is ideal for visiting in winter because of fewer tourists, mild weather, and local festivities.
Sign up for our daily newsletter
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the 9th annual Dubrovnik Winter Festival returns with rich musical entertainment, gastronomic celebrations, children’s activities and more. During the festival, travelers can soak in rich cultural entertainment as they enjoy the historic Old Town almost exclusively. Festive activities include live music, ice skating, art workshops and perusing traditional crafts made by local artisans.
TPG tip: Stay at Hotel Excelsior for about 13,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($198) per night. The landmark hotel overlooks the Adriatic and Old Town and is just half a mile from the Christmas Market. It also offers special holiday offers for guests with discounted rates and charming holiday decorations.
In December, Belize boasts long sunny days, temperatures of 80 degrees and lots of holiday cheer.
Like many other destinations, the country is plunged into a warm holiday spirit during December. The aroma of the traditional Belizean Black Fruit Cake fills the air, rum popo (an eggnog-like drink) flows freely and people generally seem giddier as they prepare for Christmas in Belize.
Holiday traditions include the San Pedro Lighted Boat Parade, the Wanaragua Jankunu Festival and the Deer Dance Festival. In addition, scuba and snorkeling along the Belize Barrier Reef are epic since it’s the dry season.
Access to Belize from major U.S. cities via numerous airlines and nonstop flight options, make it a hassle-free travel destination. It’s also the only English-speaking country in the region where the American dollar is widely accepted at the favorable exchange rate of 2 Belize dollars to $1.
TPG tip: Book a room at the stunning Alaia Belize Autograph Collection, where you can get an Ocean Vista Studio from 47,000 Marriott Bonvoy points ($342) per night. Upgrade to a two-bedroom suite for just 91,000 points per night.
Zurich is the quintessential winter wonderland during the holidays. The city is adorned with classic decorations and lights, plus it has several traditional European Christmas markets, fondue chalets, as well as traditional events like candle dipping in the town square of Bürkliplatz and the Märlitram fairy tale tram.
A highlight is Christkindlimarkt at Zurich Main Station — one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe —features 140 stalls. You also can’t miss the 32-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated with thousands of sparkling Swarovski crystals.
TPG tip: This year, travelers can stay at the unique Hotel Noel, a pop-up experience running Nov. 24-Dec. 26, 2022, with 10 rooms in 10 hotels individually designed by different artists, reflecting creative contemporary interpretations of the Christmas season.
Participating hotels include Hyatt Place ($269 per night or 15,000 World of Hyatt points) and the trendy B2 Boutique Hotel, with rooms transformed by artists selected for their work’s broad spectrum and diversity.
Las Vegas, Nevada
While you might not get the desert heat that makes Las Vegas pool parties so popular, you can still enjoy pleasant temperatures in the 60s in December. The cooler temps make it possible to enjoy all the activities the bustling city has to offer without the crowds or sweating.
The month also marks the iconic Las Vegas Bowl, which college football fans will likely love. All the hotels get into the holiday spirit with over-the-top decorations like Bellagio’s massive Christmas-themed displays.
Additionally, according to new Priceline data, Las Vegas is the top most affordable domestic destination in December for both round-trip airfare ($303.29) and average nightly room rate ($132.95).
TPG tip: Spend the night at the all-suite Palazzo At The Venetian Resort Las Vegas for 24,000 IHG Rewards points per night or $119. The hotel…
Read More: The 8 best destinations to visit in December