Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
While there are tons of great deals out there for travelers this holiday season, there may be something right in your own backyard worth staying around to see. Not only could it save you some vacation money for 2010, it can also give you a greater appreciation for the traditions that your city has developed over the years.
One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is check out the Christmas lights that people and businesses around the city have put up. In bigger areas, all you have to do is plan a little walking trip of downtown - like Michigan Avenue in Chicago, or the Gaslamp District in San Diego. In smaller cities, like Boise where I live, our local paper - The Idaho Statesman - actually has a whole page dedicated to where the best lights are at in the Treasure Valley. Google your city and see what you can find, grab a reusable mug filled with hot chocolate or a great mocha, and you can fill your heart with Christmas spirit in looking at the works of others. Your local paper can also be a great resource for other local events, like special holiday markets, interfaith holiday celebrations and unique offerings - in Boise, the Idaho Botanical Garden has a special event called "Winter Garden Aglow" that is guaranteed to light a fire under your holiday spirit. Check out what's special in your town!
Another great holiday tradition is Christmas plays. I found in looking at the paper's event calendar that we have lots of local theaters that are putting on special holiday productions. Plays just give a different feel to the experience than movies do - it makes me feel more "at home" and among friends to take in a live performance. And speaking of live performances, don't forget to check out local coffee houses and small venues for special Christmas tours and shows of local - and not-so-local - music acts.
And I can't write an article about staying local for the holidays and not mention my favorite treat - spa days! It's a great time of year to look at what your local spas are offering for gift packages - and give a gift to yourself. The best way to approach the New Year - and a new year of travel - is with a revitalized spirit.
I hope this holiday season does everything to fill your life with joy and peace.