Holidays are a great time for vacation planning

Versie Dortch
European river cruises, such as on the Danube River, can be a lovely option for young and old.

Holidays are coming, family and friends will gather — providing the perfect opportunity to discuss individual and family vacation plans and travel destinations for the coming year. Here are ideas to get your planning underway.

Assuming you are gathering with family and/or friends for Thanksgiving, or talking on the phone or via Zoom with more distant pals, start by planting the seed. Invite them to come with thoughts for their ultimate vacation destination, and their most favorite place they have visited in the last few years. Ultimate destinations for me are England and Ireland, and most favorite place recently visited is northern Yellowstone Park in winter, seeing the same large Wolfpack two days in a row, just 150 yards away on a sunny, cold riverbank.

Bison are always in abundance in Gardiner and Mammoth hot springs area of Yellowstone Park in winter.

Over your holiday gathering, ask members to share their suggested destination and favorite recently-visited end-point. Ask one of the members to jot a few notes; viola, the start of your new year’s travel planning. Quite possibly, you’ll arrive at a common destination for a group gathering, as well as many who will find inspiration for individual travels in the coming 12 months.

Then ask each of them to start a simple travel planner, with a short list of their target destinations, best time of the year to visit (factoring in school vacations, available time off from work), costs associated and the like.

Lupine below Mt. Tallac, at Lake Tahoe, makes for a marvelous group travel destination.

If a family or friends group gathering becomes the goal, bringing together families or friends from nearby and other more far-flung locations, get someone to volunteer to put together a simple slideshow/PowerPoint or informational flyer. Such a presentation or simple flyer would offer a few photos of the destination, suggested timeline, places to stay (either hotels/motels, RVing or camping), approximate cost of such a trip. Share the info with the group and encourage people to calendar the suggested dates.

Classic RV camping might be part of your next group vacation, through Tin Can Tourists.

Ask someone to research on group travel options: either with a trip planning company like Outdoor Adventure Travel (OAT.com; we have done three European river voyages with OAT, each memorable outings), or group travel sites such as Vacations to Go, Travels with Rick Steves, Travels with Alan or other group travel sites. Ask your friends and search the Internet.

By the way, don’t discount travel gatherings in your own backyard: hosting friends or families in your city, or, in your home region, in special places like Lake Tahoe. Tahoe offers an abundance of hotels, motels and casinos (with economical pricing Sunday through Wednesdays, and off-season discounted rates) and one of the world’s loveliest of Alpine mountain lakes and plenty of outdoor activities.

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