Instead of making the traditional trek over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, many Northwest Indiana residents are using the holidays as a time to get away from it all.
Paula Publicover, a travel agent with All About Vacations Inc. in Crown Point, says they typically see between 50 and 75 families who leave the area during the holiday season to take a vacation.
“I think they like to experience things with each other,” she said. “Presents are forgotten, but these memories last forever.”
According to Publicover, the most popular destinations during the holidays include Mexico, Jamaica and Disney World, with the most common trips including flights and a seven-night stay.
Maria Gomez, of Dyer, has taken her family to Cancun, Mexico a few times during the holidays. She usually spends Christmas and Thanksgiving with her sister and family in Indiana, but occasionally she enjoys spending the holidays beachside.
“Cancun is very relaxed and laid back,” Gomez said. “It’s very safe. My favorite part is walking on the beach. The sand is all natural, so it never gets hot.”
Despite the recent economic downturn, Publicover said the number of families who choose to travel during the holidays has stayed fairly constant.
“They may be spending less money, but they’re still going,” she said.
Taking a vacation during the holidays can reduce the extra stress that comes with the end of year festivities. Maria Gomez and her family take advantage of infrequent gaps in Gomez’s nursing schedule to take a vacation, even during the holidays.
“I love spending time with family and not having to worry about shopping, preparing a meal and cooking it,” Gomez said.
Rachel Mihich, of Valparaiso, toured with the Nebraska Theater Caravan in 2010 and 2011 for their traveling production of “A Christmas Carol.”
“I would have liked to be home with everyone,” Mihich said, “But on tour everything was simple and planned out for me. This time of year is complicated.”
The company played in many different cities throughout the eastern United States, including venues in upstate New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida and North Carolina.
“It was rough the first year – we had Thanksgiving at Denny’s and Cracker Barrel while on the road,” she said.
Gomez advises other travelers to start their preparations early. “The only challenging things is you have to plan far ahead of time,” she said, advising a lead-time of six to eight months. “If you wait until the month before you leave, you could pay double.”
For many families, the holidays don’t feel as festive without a dusting of snow, but Gomez does not miss it.
“They put up all kinds of decorations – trees, piñatas, lights, Santa with reindeer. It was all very festive,” she said. “It doesn’t feel any less Christmassy even without the cold weather or the snow.”