Why The Holidays Are The Best Time To Travel Out Of The Country (And To Scotland)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Homanay Edinburgh Fireworks Celebration

Is there any worse feeling in the world than coming up to the end of the year and realizing the number of vacation days/personal days you have left outnumbers the number of days left in the year? These are days your employer is literally paying you not to come into work and to instead enjoy life and capitalize on the very reason you spend all those days in the office in the first place. This is not something you want to treat casually.

Do not make this mistake, and before it gets too late to do anything about it and you realize that you may end up spending a couple of those free days in late December in a Ben and Jerry’s-induced Netflix binge of The Killing (always an uplifting way to ring in the new year), start exploring the idea of hitting the road for the holidays.

Not only are there festivals and celebrations around the world, especially on New Year’s, but it’s a great time to reward yourself for a year of hard work and to reflect on where you want things to go in the future, and nothing is better for this than travel.

For a few ideas on where to jet off to at the end of 2014, check our Contiki’s offerings of “End of Year”/Holiday trips which are sure to make you reconsider staying at home around the holidays, including a trip to Sydney to experience one of the largest New Year’s celebrations in the world, a 14-day offering around Spain (literally) or a visit to Edinburgh’s famed Hogmanay celebration (Hogmanay, a Scots word meaning, “The Last Day of the Year”).

Not that Australia in the middle of their summer, or Spain any time of the year, aren’t both appealing options, but Hogmanay has always been of particular interest to me, and not because it sounds suspiciously close to Hogsmeade.

It’s actually one of the largest New Year’s celebrations in the world, and one of the most unique. Beginning on December 30, this Scottish city kicks things off with a torchlight procession, an event involving over 35,000 people, open flames and what appears to be bearded men dressed as vikings. What better way to get your New Year’s festivities under way?

Then the next day, on the 31st, the action moves to the center of the city where 80,000 people party it up at the Concert in the Gardens (featuring Lily Allen this year), along with other live music performances, DJ’s, outdoor bars and one of the world’s largest fireworks shows flanked by the city’s castle ramparts. Of course, everyone then wakes up the next morning and runs into the river, because, why not?

Can you think of a better succession of activities to enjoy New Year’s than these?

The above video will give you an inkling of what it’s like to experience Hogmanay in the flesh and blood.

Of course, once you’ve gone through the effort of going to Scotland, you’re across the Atlantic Ocean already, so you may as well start making a dent on those 2015 vacation days and add a second destination while you’re over there. Factor in the usual reasons it’s a good idea to travel around the holidays there (the crowds are now minuscule, prices are rock bottom and the prospect of heading back to your dreary town seem all the more daunting with your post-New Year’s champagne hangover), and it’s a perfect time to tack on an extension to your travels.

Had an inkling to visit London? You’re only a short train ride away. Want to see the Alps in the prime of winter? Head to the airport and be in the mountains within a day.

This, my friends, is the power of taking a trip around the holidays: Anything and everything seems possible, and those seemingly precious vacation days you spent all year hoarding away are now all to available and there for the taking.

Don’t make a mistake and lose out, now’s your time to start planning to make sure you start the next year off right.

[Fireworks Over Edinburgh by Robbie Shade/Flickr]

[This post was brought to you by the fine folks at Contiki, the worldwide leader in tours for 18-35 year-olds.]


By Matt Stabile / The Expeditioner Twitter Matt Stabile Google+

Matt Stabile Bio PictureMatt Stabile is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheExpeditioner.com. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos, purchase the book he co-edited or contact him via email at any time at TheExpeditioner.com.

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