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The Pros and Cons of Traveling Over New Year's

Travel at this time of year can offer benefits, but it can also be hectic.    

U.S. News & World Report

The Pros and Cons of Traveling Over New Year's

People cheer as the ball drops at midnight in Times Square on January 1, 2015 in New York City.

Is it smart to travel over the holiday? It depends on your budget, itinerary and other practical matters.(Getty Images)

Like many major holidays, New Year's Day is a popular time to travel. Those in search of unique ways to bid farewell to 2015 will find no shortage of festive events around the world. However, there are also drawbacks to traveling in late December and early January. Higher rates and closed attractions can make a New Year's Day trip less convenient than traveling at other times during the winter season. Before booking your travel over the holiday, consider the pros and cons to decide if it's the best option for you.

The Pros

1. You Can Enjoy Unique Experiences

New Year's Eve is a great time to find unique, once-a-year experiences taking place across the globe. For those seeking a fun, energetic atmosphere, New York, Sydney or Las Vegas may fit the bill. And a quirkier way to ring in the new year can be found in Key West, where revelers watch a giant, red high-heeled shoe drop at midnight while enjoying the warm Florida weather.

However, these fun and feisty celebrations aren't for everyone. For those who would prefer a quiet start to 2016, a beach vacation might be the best choice. The Hawaiian Islands experience beautiful weather year-round and are a reasonable six-hour flight from most major airports along the West Coast. Meanwhile, those living on the East Coast should consider a Caribbean escape for a relaxing start to the new year.

2. The Convenience Factor

With New Year's Day falling on a Friday this year, many of us will be able to enjoy the long weekend without asking for additional time away from work. And if you have vacation time to spare, you can take off the Thursday before or the Monday after New Year's Day for an extended four-day getaway.

3. You Can Escape Cold Winter Weather

Depending on where you want to travel, a New Year's getaway can help you escape harsh winter weather. And early January is a great time to take a break from frigid temperatures before bracing yourself for the final few months of winter. Even if you're not planning to escape to a warm-weather destination, visiting a new place can provide a different kind of reprieve and a fresh perspective. And after the hectic holiday season, a trip in late December or early January can give travelers a chance to relax and recharge.

The Cons

1. Expect Some Attractions to Be Closed for the Holidays 

While many businesses will remain open for New Year's Day, expect popular museums, restaurants and shops to close their doors on major holidays. So, if you decide to explore a new destination on New Year's Day, be sure to plan ahead and map out your itinerary accordingly. Popular spots, such as Las Vegas, tend to be less impacted by limited holiday hours than businesses in smaller towns or off-the-beaten-path destinations. However, travelers shouldn't assume that an attraction or business will be open just because it's well-known and frequented by tourists. For instance, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be closed on Jan. 1, 2016. Make sure to call ahead to know when visiting hours will be during the holidays before planning your trip. 

2. Lodging and Transportation Costs 

Although New Year's isn't quite as hectic as Christmas, it is still a popular time to travel. And that means airfares and hotel rates are likely to be higher, especially for popular holiday destinations like New York and London. If you want to stretch your vacation dollars further, travel a few weeks later in January or February for off-season perks like better rates and fewer crowds. And when booking your flight, be sure to use the airline's "flexible dates" search function to secure the best rates.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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