If ever there is a time to break away from the holiday traditions of your childhood, college is it.
This December, students aren’t required to roast chestnuts, go caroling or spin dreidels. So, if traditions aren’t your thing, use the upcoming holiday to fit in a little travel.
Utah is the ideal spot to begin an adventure. We have so many resources within the state. But if you long for the coast or a big city, they’re not too far away.
If your budget is tight and you don’t have much time, staying in the state is probably your best bet.
Rent your car before December, and perhaps travel up to Logan or Bear Lake, where holiday hotel fares are still quite cheap.
The key to staying in-state is booking your room early. If you reserve a hotel room before mid-November, it is more likely you can find a decent hotel for less than $50 a night.
Also, if you want to stay in Utah but seek warmer climates, head south to a lovely place called Teasdale. This small town, about 60 miles southwest of Richfield, is close to a beautiful evergreen forest (Boulder Mountain in particular), red rock hills that are great for winter hiking, and Capitol Reef National Park, which never disappoints.
Stay in one of the old-time cabin hotels in nearby Torrey, and enjoy the small-town feel of the area.
If you long to go west, stay in San Francisco. Here, you can get a hotel room priced anywhere from $47 to $450 per night, according to hotels.com, and there is never a lack of entertainment.
San Francisco is an ideal travel location because, not only can a visitor enjoy the benefits of a large city, but it is generally quite safe and the Pacific is just a cab ride away.
Because of the excellent bus, tram, and taxi services the city provides, driving to the city by the bay is not recommended. If you’re lucky, you can get parking for $30 a night; and with the gas it would take to get there, it is more frugal and efficient to fly. Not to mention you’d have to drive through the miserable Bonneville Salt Flats to get there.
Round-trip coach airfare during the holidays, according to hotels.com, is anywhere from $180 to $270, and though airports usually decline into mass entropy during the holidays, it can be quite an adventure.
Actually, airports seem to be at their best when they’re busy; it’s like sweeps week for chronic people-watchers.
The best way to approach San Francisco is to let the city do what it will with you. Walk as much as you can; it’s the ideal way to get to know a new place.
Stop at the ticket box in Union Square and get cheap theater tickets, or head down to the piers and sample the local fare.
By letting yourself get lost in the city, you’ll find hidden treasures that no travel pamphlet or tour guide can show you.
And also, if you can’t figure out the BART maps (BART is to San Francisco as UTA is to Utah County), ask a homeless person, and tip him or her for the help. They know the city better than anyone else, and they’ll most likely be willing to give you trustworthy directions for a few bucks.
Taking it east
Finally, we turn to the east. If you’re hankering for a good road trip, find a good set of snow tires and make your way through Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.
Though they sound like a drag, some of the best adventures can happen in these states.
Boulder, Colo. is a wonderful town to visit, with quaint shops and an easy-going rhythm.
Take Highway 80 through Nebraska, and dig through the antique stores on practically every exit.
Kansas has the best postcards in the country, and Wichita is almost as much of a hidden treasure as Cincinnati.
The most important thing to remember when on the road is to keep an open mind, and remember that the monstrous rainstorm you’re driving into or the surprise, detailed security check at the airport is an adventure, not a stumbling block.
For more information or preparation for your oncoming escapades, read John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, and remember to wear comfortable shoes and pack clean underwear.