What beats going home for the holidays? Not going home for the holiday, that beats going home for the holidays. Of course the grass isn’t always greener (and the sun isn’t warmer) so you need to choose carefully when picking a destination for your holiday getaway. Let’s take a look at some of these more overrated places you may want to avoid.
Just missing the list is Las Vegas - billed as an adult playground, there is no doubt this is a fun place to be decadent. Is that how you want to spend the holidays? Anyplace there’s gambling seems like a risky proposal. Christmas Eve should be spent with loved ones, not putting Jimmy’s college fund on 18 because that was the age the escort said she was.
Also, Chicago just misses the list – you think you are recreating a Griswold's vacation, but instead you are just creating misery trapped in a city as cold as an ice box in December. You want to go to Chicago for Christmas? Lock yourself in a freezer for 3 hours, come out and warm up and then repeat. I just saved you hundreds of dollars…
The good news (and bad news) is that there is no discrimination here. We have warm destinations and cold destinations, exciting fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants places as well as "kick back and relax" vacations. In the end, you may just want to go home for the holidays.
Here are the 15 most overrated holiday destinations…
15 New Orleans
New Orleans is always a good time, right? Well, yes, if you are heading down in February with your bros, maybe. Traveling to New Orleans for Christmas? You may want to think that one over. Do you really want to spend Christmas Eve drunk on Bourbon Street drinking margaritas out of a plastic cup or with your loved ones drinking egg nog in front of the tree? Okay, maybe that’s not a good way to look at it, but I think you get the picture.
I get it, you’re thinking you will find that little bar playing sweet Christmas jazz and you and your loved one will think it doesn’t get any better. The reality is that the little jazz bar will be packed with drunks and instead of jazz you will have someone puking on your feet. Your only escape is to the streets where the truly desperate are begging for beads during the holidays. New Orleans is awesome, just maybe not during the holidays.
In everyone’s mind Paris is the most romantic place in the world, and for many reasons they are right, but it’s not for everyone, especially during the holidays. For many, Paris turns into anything but this dreamland. For the optimistic you learn holiday phrases in French in hopes to impress; unfortunately this doesn’t end well. Regardless of the phrase, you will be shunned, which is nothing to take personally, but is this how you want to spend the greatest time of the year?
Then there are the sights. The Eiffel Tower lines are brutal and if they don’t break you the prices you pay for a coffee will. By the way, it gets cold in Paris so this is by no means an escape from a colder climate. Again, you will end up in a cafe trying to warm up, order an expensive cup of coffee and receive a disgusted look because you are not Parisian. This just goes on and on…
“Actually we’re spending the holidays in Bali” is a phrase that will make most people incredibly jealous. The good news stops there. Indonesia’s most popular and amazing place to visit is full of sub-par food and is so expensive you feel like you pay to enter and exit places. You picture the huts on stilts and relaxation, but what you actually get is Australians blasted on beer living each day as if it’s their last.
Bali is no longer the secluded paradise it once was. In fact, they have realized they can capitalize and everything is actually more corporate than an escape from the hustle and bustle. The ironic thing is that the locals still advertise their little “getaway,” but it is anything but this. You will struggle to find space at the pool and the drinks are ridiculously expensive. You could just stay home, go to local spa and get more relaxation than taking the flight to Bali.
I’ve been to Spain twice, once to Madrid and once to Barcelona, and my takeaway was that these two cities could not be more different. Madrid is very traditional Spain; Barcelona is Cleveland with better architecture. Yes there are all the things you hope to find such as tapas bars, good wine and Flamenco dancing, but it’s very contrived and doesn’t feel traditional. Also, the city is overrun by Western chains such as McDonald’s and too many souvenir shops trying to take advantage of tourists.
The bonus of Barcelona (their dirty little secret) is the amount of crime in this city. Wait until it gets dark and take a stroll. It’s best to travel in packs to avoid getting mugged for starters, and then there are the girls. I say girls, but these are prostitutes, which is a big problem here. In summary, if you really want to go to Spain for the holidays, I suggest a trip to Madrid, not Barcelona.
The one is for the youth. Most middle-aged people know this is not a new place to explore during the holidays. I understand the “grunge factor” and all, but this is a major city with major problems. If you plan being part of a tour group for the duration of your visit you should be totally fine, but if you wish to explore, you may want to hold your dare-devil adventure for another time, when it isn’t the holidays.
This is a repressed city, full of historic sites that are mostly harboring a dark past. Is doom and gloom on your holiday agenda? If so, then maybe this works, but for most it’s not what you are looking for. I mean, you really want to spend your holiday at the Holocaust memorial? Are you going to take pictures? What are you doing? Just stay at home, buy a crappy tree and max out your credit card on presents. This would be so much better than spending your money on a trip to Berlin over the holidays.
Face it, you are considering (or went to) Cancun over the holidays because it's cheap. What you will find is a warm, beautiful climate, no doubt. You will also find that you can get a seat at the pool and there are no lines. Guess what? No one is going to Cancun over the holidays. If you are truly trying to escape then this is a viable option, but for most this will turn into a depressing destination with plenty of time to think about where you went wrong.
If you are traveling from the United States there is also the current political situation to consider. Do you know how to say “wall” in Spanish? Might want to brush up on that and it’s not because the locals care, but every other cheap tourist you meet is going to want to talk about this. Why wouldn’t they? It’s not like they are going to talk about what they are running from back home, which is really the only reason (other than just being super cheap) to book a Cancun trip over the holidays.
I just don't get why people see Dubai is a “destination,” yet many do and continue to plan their annual trips here. Why anyone would even consider it for the holidays is totally beyond me, but it happens all the time. It’s hot and humid and not in a good way. Many can deal with that, but the smog from the industry and transportation is way out of control. They are not up to date on air pollution or just don't care. You may ring in the New Year with a bang, but expect to be choking on the air the next day.
Vacation is supposed to be about kicking back; however, in Dubai you best be playing it straight. This is a country that only jails people for rape when convenient, yet will prosecute someone for having a trace (yes, an actual trace) of drugs or even just poppy seeds in some cases. Proceed with caution if this is your destination, or you know what, better yet just go someplace else for your holiday.
8 Orlando (Disney)
This is of course a magical place for children, full of characters and adventures; Mickey Mouse is here! That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend your holiday here. The holidays are about spending time laughing and making moments with family, not waiting in lines.
Even if you haven’t been to Disney World, you probably know the song “It’s a Small World After All…” and if you’ve actually been on this lazy river ride, you know it because it’s repeated over and over, pushing the average person near a nervous breakdown. Disney has its place on the destinations list, especially if you have children, no doubt, but over the holidays may not be the best time to go. You can make memories at Disney any time of year. Also, you don’t need to come back from the holidays and want to murder someone because you have the “It’s A Small World” song in your head.
7 Los Angeles
Let’s start with the weather. It’s awesome and being near the ocean is not a bad way to spend the holidays. There is a romance that comes with Los Angeles and the holidays, the fakeness doesn’t seem phony, and it’s just the way it is. The problem with choosing Los Angeles as a holiday destination is pretty much everything else.
First off, let’s be clear, your vacation isn’t going to be a Bret Easton Ellis story, and would you even want it to be? Chances are you are going to spending a lot time in your car, because Los Angeles. You are also going to constantly be talking yourself into enjoying the weather saying things like “I don’t know why everyone doesn’t come here for the holidays” when secretly you'd give anything for a dusting of snow on pine trees versus palm trees and a blazing sun cutting through the fog.
Prague appears on many travel bucket lists and doesn’t discriminate as both young and old travelers dream of exploring this city. What you will find is a large capital city that caters to tourists in that you are welcome in some areas, provided you pay and are okay dealing exclusively with other tourists. Spending the holidays annoyed by tourists with bad food is not worth it.
Let’s face it, you aren’t Anthony Bourdain and do not know the secret handshake to get you in with the locals. Most are timid going off the “tourist” roads, and rightfully so. We have all seen Hostel, we know what can happen. You are left navigating the streets with other tourists (mostly Australian) who are mostly interested in finding beer or Absinthe, the latter escalating the annoying factor. Oh, and the beer, it’s downright awful. Even a trip to Dublin over the holidays would be better – at least they have Guinness there…
Advertised as an isolated paradise, Croatia is anything but, and it's definitely not as advertised for the holidays. You go expecting untouched land where you will hike and stumble upon a hidden beach. The sky, my God the skies are the most beautiful skies you will ever see. Maybe you will hire a local to take you out to the small islands. There are no tourists and you can finally relax. This is a nice thought; the reality is a bit different.
There are no sandy beaches. Not a good start. Those deserted islands? Full of tourists and no longer untouched; instead, be ready to fork over a ton of cash for wine and food. The food is terrible and there is very little effort to make it good; you will leave craving a frozen pizza. Did I mention the lack of beaches? Way overrated. You could get more peace and quiet sitting in an airport.
“Dude, let’s go to Amsterdam!” Two guys with no family and nothing to live for (but somehow have money to travel to The Netherlands) are the only people who should pick Amsterdam as their holiday destination. Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, or the world for that matter, with so much to see, it just doesn’t offer anything extra for the holidays.
You go for the legal weed, end up with a prostitute and come back with a social disease to pass along to your loved one. This is quite possibly the worst holiday destination agenda of all time. Even if you go with your family, do you really want to visit the Anne Frank house on Christmas Day? Save it for late January if you must and you know what? You should after staying back and spending the holidays with your family.
I read that Thailand is the land of smiles, but I’m not so sure about that. Especially as a holiday destination - unless of course you are looking for something creepy, then by all means, carry on. There are a lot of shady things happening here that happen in basement “stores” and even right on the streets. If Coney Island threw up, it would be Thailand. The circus/freak show performers don’t even try and eventually you are sick of paying for sub-par entertainment.
There are plenty of places to get your party on, but again, why over the holidays? Who are these people you are partying with? It could be your neighbors because pretty much everyone in the clubs and bars are tourists, so essentially you just traveled thousands of miles to hang out at a new bar. The good news is the beaches (though full of tourists) are beautiful, which is the only saving grace, unlike…
If you really don't want to celebrate the holidays, then Ibiza is perfect for you. If you are looking for an actual destination to enjoy the holiday, Ibiza is awful. If you are looking for a family holiday destination, Ibiza shouldn’t be even considered. Full of over-tanned people looking for drugs and sex, Ibiza has marketed itself as a place for decadence, but in reality it's just an overpriced destination with trouble lurking, definitely not a place with the holiday spirit.
Going to Ibiza means being offered a ton of homemade drugs, pills that you have no idea where they came from and lots of requests to pay for sex. All the well marketed clubs cost a ton of money to get into and essentially you will be back in high school, left in the corner as blond dudes and model women “dance” to house music while high on paint thinner-level drugs. Don’t expect to bring home presents from Ibiza, unless someone is looking for syphilis, which will cost you, but can be found in abundance here.
1 New York City
There is no better city to celebrate Christmas, and yes, I am biased because I live here. However, as a holiday destination it is super overrated. It’s what you don’t know that will have you leave with more anger than when you arrived. Let’s start with the crowds. You will stand in line for hours for the privilege to pay an arm and a leg to go ice skating. Expect more lines to see any of the dozen tree lightings in the city as well as lines to get into any of the “holiday” restaurants and bars. Many of these lines extend out the door, so dress warmly.
Still think it’s worth it? Hey, if you are in the Big Apple over the holidays, seeing Santa at Macy’s is a must. My suggestion is to bring something that makes you feel good, such as happy pills, because you are going to be in a line that stretches miles throughout the store. Once there, be ready because an “elf” is going to quickly usher you to Santa where they will snap a photo and push you out. Once done, you have another very long line where you get the privilege to view and pay for the photo – more than you’ve probably ever paid for a simple photo, mind you. Oh, the privilege of being in New York City over the holidays.