Our Retiree Holiday Dilemma

I remember reading your posts and you were one of the people who sold me on OAT! We did their Sicily trip over Thanksgiving last year and Peru last month. We're thrilled with their tours - so, a much belated thank you for your positive words about OAT - my FIL used to travel with them as well. No complaints, just fun adventures to look forward to!
Is there something different about what they offer or the way they do tours that everyone particularly likes vs what other tour companies offer?
 
We have had Christmas with extended family only 3 times in the past 25 years. We moved across country in 1999 and the last parent passed away in 2009. Last year we went to Hawaii and it didn't feel strange at all. It was wonderful. I"m hoping to do Christmas markets in 2025. We have one son who is 32 and not dating, and he worked Christmas and hung out with online friends. He is not accustomed to family gatherings anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. Most Christmas Days I cook a nice dinner and dessert, we eat early, then play cards afterward.
 
Is there something different about what they offer or the way they do tours that everyone particularly likes vs what other tour companies offer?
Well, I don't have many tour companies to compare them with. We used to travel to Europe on our own, then joined Rick Steves tours on a few tours because his tours got high praise and he covered areas we wouldn't easily be able to travel to on our own. DH & I were very happy with his tours and I recommend them ... but he doesn't do many tours, if any, outside of Europe. As we are exploring other parts of the world these days, we decided to try OAT. I believe OAT doesn't charge single supplements, which is rare in the travel world. I'd eagerly travel with both companies. They both fit our budget and I don't think they are excessively priced.
 
Portugual! The only downside was one church was closed Christmas Eve. We saw it from the outside and had a lovely coffee break with some locals. We popped into a church on Christmas and enjoyed a lovely service. And spent time at the beach. The resort we stayed at was fully functionable.
 
I think you should go on vacation this year.

I don't have suggestions as to where but for me at least it would be easier to just change the environment and not think too much about the holiday.

I think everyone else had good suggestions but I don't really have the bandwidth for a new tradition right away when something has changed and a vacation seems the path of least resistance.
 
I just spent about an hour on the OAT website. We've not be into group tour/travel before but I have to admit, it looks like fun.
 
Is there something different about what they offer or the way they do tours that everyone particularly likes vs what other tour companies offer?
Smaller groups and, as mentioned earlier, generally no Single Supplement although I did pay extra for the upcoming trip because it's a small-ship cruise. It was about $1,000 but if you drill down into the fine print for most tour companies the cost for a single can be 150-175% of "per-person, double-occupancy". Other advantages:

1. The guides are "ask-me-anything" people- the good, the bad, the ugly. I don't want sugar-coating.
2. There are encounters with locals. I've had dinners with families all over the world. I know they're carefully chosen so it's a bit artificial (no fanatic political views, decent English, home up to standards) but I've learned so much. We've met with a sex worker in Peru, a Muslim man whose daughter is dating a Hindu in India (met the daughter and BF, too). talked with a woman who grows coca leaves in the Amazon (the variety she grows is sold in local markets for chewing- good for your teeth and bones, no psychotic effects at all).
3. Their foundation, partly funded by a % of profits, partly donations, supports local needs- a school, sanitary facilities, etc.
4. When stuff goes wrong they step up. In March, 2020 they got us put of Bolivia 2 days before Bolivia closed its borders. I'd made my own plane reservations but they got me on that flight, too.

Send me a PM if you want more. This is turning into a commercial! :)
 
Smaller groups and, as mentioned earlier, generally no Single Supplement although I did pay extra for the upcoming trip because it's a small-ship cruise. It was about $1,000 but if you drill down into the fine print for most tour companies the cost for a single can be 150-175% of "per-person, double-occupancy". Other advantages:

1. The guides are "ask-me-anything" people- the good, the bad, the ugly. I don't want sugar-coating.
2. There are encounters with locals. I've had dinners with families all over the world. I know they're carefully chosen so it's a bit artificial (no fanatic political views, decent English, home up to standards) but I've learned so much. We've met with a sex worker in Peru, a Muslim man whose daughter is dating a Hindu in India (met the daughter and BF, too). talked with a woman who grows coca leaves in the Amazon (the variety she grows is sold in local markets for chewing- good for your teeth and bones, no psychotic effects at all).
3. Their foundation, partly funded by a % of profits, partly donations, supports local needs- a school, sanitary facilities, etc.
4. When stuff goes wrong they step up. In March, 2020 they got us put of Bolivia 2 days before Bolivia closed its borders. I'd made my own plane reservations but they got me on that flight, too.

Send me a PM if you want more. This is turning into a commercial! :)
great info...thanks! So gratifying to hear you had good experiences.
 
Another thought would be to "adopt" a local family in need. Purchase gifts for them, provide food, etc.
Many churches, food banks, etc have such lists.
That is a nice thought. A call to a local food bank might be in order for us.
 
Lots of great ideas here. I just came here to say ... unless you really enjoy standing in very long lines and spending $100 or more for maybe 8 runs down a ski slope, the ski areas in Colorado near to I-70, Winter Park and Steamboat Springs should be avoided at all costs. Summit County parks, Vail, Aspen and the previously mentioned WP and SS all fill up with college students and other travelers between Christmas and New Years. That is why the slopes don't allow discounted passes during that time of the ski season. My favorite parks during that week are Wolf Creek (Pagosa Springs) and Purgatory (Durango). Neither fill up like the northern resorts.
 
Thanks threeonesix. If we went, we would probably arrive on Dec 20th and leave the morning of the 26th, as that's when it starts to get crazy.
 
We have a upcoming predicament. We are both in our 60’s and have no children of our own. For over 30 years my wife and I have spent Christmas at her parents’ home, in the tiny southern town that she grew up in. My father-in-law was the town doctor. He was well loved and everyone knew him and of course my wife so to us it was like a second home. Even though it as just the four of us, it was always a holiday rich in fun, laughter and family traditions. We knew that one day they would not be with us, so a home town Christmas with them was something we treasured every single year. Tragically they have both passed away. Now Christmas is definitely not the same. After all those years at my in-laws, Christmas morning by ourselves, in our own home seems lacking…… and a bit sad.

So now we are left exploring options on what to do during the holiday season. Both this year and in the future. Christmas markets in Europe? Skiing in Colorado? Palm trees and white sand? Who knows. But I’m sure we are not the only childless retirees who are facing this situation. Christmas is months away but I would like to start collecting ideas and making plans now. If you are in a similar situation or have suggestions, we would sincerely appreciate if you would share your plans or what you do to make the holidays special.
Yes. Lost my dad, mom, brother, mom in law, sis in law, bro in law, and lastly my husband. All in the last 9 yesrs! Its just me and my 28 yr old daughter. If i didn't have to leave my German Shepherd. Sux
 
So many good ideas! I'm going to put in a plug for military service members. A group I belong to puts on Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at a small local base. Some are on duty that day. Others are posted far from home and have no-where else to go. Families are welcome, so we get a good mix of young men, women and children. It's a real family holiday vibe, and the crew really appreciate it.
 
OP here. I thought I would chime in and thank everyone who reponded and post a follow-up. I've booked us a ski vacation in Colorado, coming home on the 26th because that's when everyone else would be arriving to start their ski vacation. I bet our flight back will be almost empty.
 
So many good ideas! I'm going to put in a plug for military service members. A group I belong to puts on Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at a small local base. Some are on duty that day. Others are posted far from home and have no-where else to go. Families are welcome, so we get a good mix of young men, women and children. It's a real family holiday vibe, and the crew really appreciate it.
I just want to say Thank You.
In 1955 I was 7 yrs old when my father was stationed on Okinawa. At Christmas we would enjoy a "military family" gathering with the other families stationed there. There was a traditional Christmas dinner in the afternoon complete with a visit by Santa Claus for us little kids. It has always been a cherished memory of mine while we were so far away from home. Since I can't thank those who made our holiday special it seems appropriate to thank you for doing the same for others.
 
One of my favorite Christmases was a Christmas cruise. All the decor, food and holiday fun with zero prep, work and clean up. We did have our older teenage kids with us ( and a tag long college friend for DD) but there were lots of singles and couples, too. Holiday shows, musicals, carrolling. Our gifts that year were shore excursions. Did I mention all the fun with zero work?
 
OP here. I thought I would chime in and thank everyone who reponded and post a follow-up. I've booked us a ski vacation in Colorado, coming home on the 26th because that's when everyone else would be arriving to start their ski vacation. I bet our flight back will be almost empty.
Sounds great. I hope you have a wonderful time. The good news is that if it's not quite what you envision, there's plenty of ideas here for the following year.
 
If you want the Christmas decorations and festivities, but don't want to host guests, check out Disney World. Best to pony up and stay at one of their hotels. Fantastic decorations at the hotels, parks are festive, and everything is open on Christmas day, book dinner ahead. Yeah, not everyone's favorite, but worked for us.
 
These days we prefer to spend Christmas Eve/Day with just ourselves. We have no kids, my wife is an 'orphan' having lost both parents and both brothers. My folks are long gone. I have one sister who does not celebrate Christmas. When our parents were alive we'd spend Christmas Eve with my mom and Christmas Day with her family. Christmas Day for us is sleeping late then I make breakfast and we do a small Turkey breast for dinner. We stopped exchanging gifts with each other a long time ago.
Actually just the parent have to be dead to be an orphan.

Probably a lot of us are now.
 
Consider this as an opportunity to volunteer in your community, or create a volunteer opportunity. I participate every year in an event called "Christmas in the Parking Lot" where i, and a bunch of other people/organizations set up tables to give out items free to those who are homeless/struggling. this includes food, coats, sleeping bags, toiletries, etc.
 
Our kids were scattered to the 4 winds but have recently all returned to their old home place. It's been a real surprise to us. Of course, we don't do winter anymore (live in Hawaii) so we've done Christmas by Zoom a couple of times. Once we all formed up in Hawaii.

Otherwise, someone from our church invites us to one (or more) celebrations in their homes.

We could celebrate Christmas 5 times the week of Christmas without breaking a sweat. There are groups who celebrate with recovering/incarcerated moms, candle light services with meet and greet afterward, decorating parties, caroling parties, etc. We have to turn down invitations around Christmas. I WISH we could get together with the kids in person, but most years, that's just not a possibility. YMMV
 

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