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Issue Date: October 2005 Issue

Escape Plan

Where to go next holiday season (and how to break the news to your family).

Lynne Thompson

Maybe you’re not in the mood to stuff a turkey (we’re not talking about your least-favorite relative here) or trim a tree. There are plenty of wonderful places other than home sweet home to spend a holiday. According to Cindy Staycheff, travel services marketing manager at AAA Travel in Independence, the following are the top five end-of-year travel destinations among Greater Clevelanders.

Walt Disney World

Where else would you look for a little holiday magic other than the Magic Kingdom? Staycheff says the fabled Orlando, Fla., theme park, which boasts a selection of onsite lodging and dining options to suit a range of budgets, is a frequent choice among those planning intergenerational getaways. Ditto for Universal Orlando Resort.

Florida Beaches

“We see a lot of traffic going to Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Daytona, Tampa-St. Petersburg down to the Keys,” Staycheff reports. All of the aforementioned destinations have one thing in common: plenty of activities to amuse beach bums if they happen to tire of lolling in the sand.

New York City

When it comes to cosmopolitan fun and excitement, nothing beats a trip to the Big Apple. While legions of travelers come to witness such traditions as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the New Year’s Eve ball drop on Times Square, many Clevelanders take advantage of New York’s proximity to home and squeeze in a long weekend of shopping, dining, sightseeing and theater during the holiday season, according to Staycheff.

Caribbean Cruise

It’s essentially a stress-free vacation, an exotic getaway without the hassles often associated with visiting faraway places. “You’re unpacking once and visiting several ports of call — if you’re on a week’s cruise, anywhere from three to six, depending on the itinerary of the ship,” Staycheff says. “All your entertainment and meals are included.” A choice of ship sizes, itineraries, cabin sizes, dining programs, entertainment and activities allows passengers to tailor a vacation to their budgets and preferences.


This vacation paradise on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a quick jaunt from Cleveland. “You can leave on a morning flight and be out on the beach in the afternoon,” Staycheff says. All-inclusive packages — including airfare, transportation between the airport and hotel, accommodations, meals, beverages, even non-motorized water sports — make it easy to budget. “The only extras you’re really going to have are your souvenirs,” she says.

Breaking the News

Don’t start packing your bags just yet. It’s probably too late to take off this year. Dr. Robert Weiss, a psychiatrist at MetroHealth Medical Center, says you should tell relatives six to nine months in advance that you won’t be attending or hosting the annual holiday blowout, especially if it’s a long-standing family tradition. Such notice gives them plenty of time to adjust and make alternate plans. Break the news by explaining that while you do indeed love the family members in question and cherish the time spent with them, you would like to observe the holiday in a different way this year.

“One excuse doesn’t fit all,” Weiss says. “But your own needs are probably the most honest and valid, whether it’s a need for privacy, a different kind of spiritual renewal, meeting your own spouse’s or [immediate] family’s needs, or even going on a holiday that does not involve family obligations.”

Even the most diplomatic of announcements, of course, may ruffle some feathers. Weiss recommends responding to anger, distress and disappointment by acknowledging the feelings and expressing your own ambivalence about not being with friends and family at such a special time.

“You also want to share with them that you’re really not abandoning them, that this is for now, for this holiday,” Weiss adds. “It’s not forever.”

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