Vacations Newsletter – December 2019
Month’s theme Introduction
The glitz of New Year
New Year and parties go hand in hand. Festivities, lights, cheery atmosphere everywhere. If you are planning to go on a trip at this time, one of the best places to experience is New York City. The whole city is brimming with activities and is lit up like one giant party. The New Year ball dropping at Times Square, remains the most favourite new year activity of the whole world, even though it started more than a hundred years back. This along with all other Christmas activities, make New York City a great destination for your winter vacation – with or without kids. We give you an enviable list of all that can be done in New York at this time in this edition of Vacations. But just partying is not enough, we understand that. In this age of always rushing and getting bound by work routines, it is equally important to nourish our inner souls and body as well. In Soul Trip, we talk about what can make your soul dance and in our Travel Smart section, you will find ways to stick to your exercise resolutions even when you are travelling.
Travelling is not just good as a break from the routine, but it enhances our creativity, our imagination, our mental health, helps us reconnect with family, make new friends and establish camaraderie with our brethren all over the world. What can be better than travelling?
Soul Trip: Party for the soul
December is a time for parties and festivities irrespective of the religion and part of the world. It seems as if the whole world is celebrating the dawn of a new year, new hope and a renewed vigour. We party all night with friends and family, eat and drink to our heart's content, laugh, dance, and make merry. While this partying makes us feel good, does it make our inner soul feel good too?
As we give a dopamine rush to our bodies with reveries, similarly we can have a party for the soul too as the New Year arrives. What is the party for the soul? What makes our inner soul feel good? The answer is connecting with the higher self. Just as connecting with our friends and family make our mind feel good, similarly connecting with the higher self is something that the soul celebrates.
How to do that – it is easy. Get out in the Sun! Spend some time in nature. Sunshine is a great stress-buster, giving you a dose of mood-boosting vitamin D and increasing the brain’s release of serotonin, the so-called ‘happy hormone’. Travelling is a great way of nourishing your soul with the gentle warmth of the sun. Take a break. Leaving work stress and the everyday routine behind in exchange for exploring a new place, leisurely walks and the freedom to make your own schedule can do your mental health the world of good and while it might not look like a typical party, your soul will be dancing.
Discover Your World
New York City is inarguably the greatest city in the world – with its heady speed of life, multitudes of activity available at all times, people from every corner of the world call it home. With all its hectic grandeur, it is not one of the top-of-the-mind spots to spend a winter vacation for most. However, truth be told, there are very few cities which deliver on the New Year party promise like New York.
The city starts brimming with festive and timeless traditions for Christmas and New Year from November onwards to include Thanksgiving in one big long festive season. Whether it's ice-skating under the stars (and skyscrapers), watching dancing nutcrackers flit about the stage, being wowed by sparkling store windows and holiday light displays, shopping at vibrant markets, or partaking in the New Year's Eve countdown heard round the world, there are many great ways to experience NYC's one-of-a-kind holiday spirit. While people of every age can enjoy their time here, it is particularly delightful for kids.
Here are just some of the things you can do in NYC during Christmas and New Year:
- Bask in the holiday lights: Manhattan is nothing if not an ocean of holiday lights at this time, making for pretty pictures and a lot of dreamy scenes, wherever you go you will see pretty lights. Don't miss the hanging stars at Columbus Circle, the illuminated shopping displays at Fifth Avenue and of course the most famous Rockefeller Centre.
- Shop at holiday markets: Yes, there are malls and shopping streets, but to especially partake in the holiday flavour, go to the pop-ups curated for holiday season. Make way for scenic outdoor locales like Bryant Park, Union Square, and Columbus Circle, where some of the city's best markets unfold and purchasing wares can be paired with hot cocoa and seasonal holiday foods.
- Don't miss the Rockettes: Get into the spirit of the season at this beloved and time-honoured show. The annual Radio City show with fun special effects, great choreography, on-stage ice skaters and the high-kicking Rockettes will set your holiday mood. This 90-minute show runs only in November and December, so don't miss it.
- Catch iconic shows: There are plenty of other iconic shows to watch in NYC, least of all The Nutcracker. The New York Pops Holiday concert at Carnegie Hall is another. Scan the local newspaper for other spectacular holiday shows.
- Switch on the Christmas tree lights: The Christmas trees lighting has become a tradition in New York now. Rockefeller light switching on is the most famous but also very crowded. Head to the trees at Bryant Park, Lincoln Square, South Street Seaport amongst many others.
- Don't catch a train at Grand Central: You think of Grand Central station; you think of catching a train but Grand Central Terminal is no ordinary station during the Christmas season. Its atmospheric Vanderbilt Hall is a heaven for winter fun, thanks to its annual Holiday Fair, featuring dozens of pop-up stands. There’s also a holiday train exhibit at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex.
- Go Ice Skating: You must have seen it in many movies, now it’s your turn to indulge in some fun ice skating. Don’t be shy, just slip your skates on and glide away in any one of the many, specially set-up ice skating rinks all over New York.
- Hop-on Hop-off New York Bus: This remains a staple of all New York tourists. Just because it is cold, doesn’t mean you can't climb up to the deck upstairs and take in the scenic beauty of New York. Many stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have Santa visiting them during the Christmas season. Find out if he has got a gift for you!
- Be on time for the party at Times Square: And finally, get ready for one of the world's most famous parties. The ball drop at Times Square is one of the most iconic ways to ring in the New Year. Many New Yorkers shy away from the event, because of cold temperatures, crazy crowds, and the lack of bathrooms. But it's a unique rush to experience that wild countdown beginning at 11:59 p.m. EST, with about 1 million fellow revellers gathered under the bright lights of Times Square, enjoying live music and pyrotechnics, along with an abundance of confetti, noisemakers, and balloons.
- Enjoy the festive spreads in the city’s many restaurants: What’s a good party without good food and NYC boasts of thousands of restaurants serving every single food item the world has ever seen. Nosh on!
Keep up with the exercising routine during travels
As the New Year approaches, more and more people start thinking of their health resolutions that were made at the beginning of the year but were abandoned perhaps before spring. Now as you prepare for a more resolute beginning of another year, and promise yourself that you will stick to your resolution of exercising daily; you find that you will be travelling over the New Year holidays and will be forced to postpone your exercising routine until you get back home. No, it needn’t be like that.
Firstly, you don’t have to wait for New Year, you can make your resolution right now and start right away. Secondly, even if you are travelling, it is possible to fit exercise into your daily schedule. So, stop using travel as an excuse for not exercising. Here are our top tips to help you merge exercise seamlessly into your travel schedule wherever you are:
- Pack your exercise clothes and shoes: The first step is to plan for it. Make up your mind even before you leave–that you will be exercising every day. Pack your gym shoes and your exercising clothes. Even though you don’t need anything for a good exercise regime, packing these will condition your mind favourably even before you leave home.
- Use the hotel gym and pool: When choosing your accommodation, see if they have a gym and/or a pool. Depending upon your favourite exercise, pick the hotel that provides what you need. And of course, once there, make use of it even if it's just for 20 minutes every day.
- The road is always open: In reality, you don’t need a pool or a gym. If you are staying in an Airbnb or a villa which doesn’t offer you a gym, fret not. Make use of the neighbouring road, park, or lakeside – whatever is close by. Go for a brisk walk or a run in the morning. Not only will you keep up with your daily physical exercise, but also get to see the place in a new light.
- Carry compact exercise devices: It’s easy to carry strength training accessories like stretchy bands. They take up no space in your luggage and you can still work for your muscle groups wherever you go. It is like carrying your gym with you.
- Workouts that you can do in your room: Yoga, squats, lunges and many more exercises can be done wherever you are, at any time and with any clothes. Now you have no excuse!
- Meditation is mandatory: Most people mistake fitness routine with just exercise. Mental fitness is also critical and is best achieved with meditation. Don’t ignore the power of sitting still and breathing deeply. Just 15 minutes of meditation every day can start transforming your body.
The most important factor to keep up with your exercise resolution is your willingness to do it. Once you have made up your mind, the excuses will melt away and irrespective of hectic travel, you will still find a way to walk briskly even at the airport.
News you can use
Events, Festivals from around the world in November
- Dec 12 – Dec 16: Wonderfruit, Pattaya, Thailand
- Dec 13 – Dec 15: Magnetic Fields Festival, Rajasthan, India
- Dec 24 – Dec 28: Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Harbin, China.
- Dec 27 – Dec 28: Lights All Night, Texas, USA
- Dec 28 – Dec 31: Rhythm and Vines, New Zealand
Travel abroad and earn Reward
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‘Vacations’ is powered by OneShoe Trust for Responsible & Mindful Travels – a travel events and marketing social enterprise that promotes travelling as a means to raise awareness about climate change and preserving local ecology.
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