Students, travel professionals, consider benefits of traveling during holiday season


GREAT VIEWS: Junior Michelle Boulos smiles next to a mountain range. Boulos said she loves traveling because she gets to experience it with family. Submitted Photo by Michelle Boulos

Marissa Ryan

For many, the joy of the holiday season is the hope of the stereotypical “winter wonderland” on Christmas morning, but for junior Michelle Boulos, she would rather see that snow in much warmer liquid form.

Boulos, who has traveled her entire life during Christmas and plans to go to Aruba this year, said, “I don’t remember the last time we haven’t traveled, to be honest. We like going to the beach to get away from the bad weather and just enjoying our time. We think it’s better to spend money on going places and having cool experiences rather than (buying) gifts.”

Boulos is not alone. Sophomore Nolan Thorpe also travels every Christmas but for different reasons. According to Thorpe, his family visits New York to see extended family members who live in other states.

Junior Michelle Boulos sits in the front seat of a helicopter with her camera in hand, ready to take photos of the scenery below. Boulos said she loves photography and is always eager to expand her skills when her family decides to travel to different places during the holiday season and other breaks.
Submitted Photo by Michelle Boulos

“I enjoy it more when we go to spend time in New York (than Indiana) because I get to see my cousins who live in Florida. They come up as well and that makes it a whole new fun environment,” Thorpe said.

According to Hassie Holmes, a travel agent for Travel Leaders in Carmel, it’s not unusual for people to travel far and wide over the holidays.

“Clients come to us for travel during the holidays to visit family and friends, to go back home wherever home is, to be to make holiday memories,” she said via email. “Some families travel for the holidays instead of buying more things (and) are able to make memories that last a lifetime. Maybe the popular reason people come to us during the holidays is to escape to warmer climates.”

Boulos said she has much more free time to travel during the winter.

“During the winter, I appreciate traveling more because it’s cold and gloomy. I never feel like I’m missing out of being with friends during the winter,” Boulos said.

No matter where Thorpe and Bolous are, they both said the best part of the holidays is being with family.

Thorpe said, “I enjoy going into the city to see the big Christmas tree in Times Square and spending time with my family.”

Bolous also said most of the holidays are spent in the presence of family.

“We aren’t very religious; therefore, we really like to spend our holidays as a family. We like to spend time and enjoy the presence of each other. The gift is being together, and it’s fun to travel with my family”

According to a winter 2018 poll conducted by AAA, one in three Americans planned to travel during the holidays, with a record-breaking 112.5 million travelers on the roadways. That was a 4.4% increase from the previous year.

Holmes said that data could be attributed to “families and friends (who) are realizing that making memories is priceless. People are busy with work, school and life.  So I think that travel has become more popular because a lot of people value spending memorable times together. I have booked multi-generational family cruises for the holidays, villas in Italy, tours and all-inclusive.”

Boulos said for her, travel also provided a lot more activities than possible staying at home.

Boulos said, “When I travel I try to do a lot of water sports: surfing, jet-skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, just stuff that you would never be able to do (in Indiana). Photography is a huge part of me and I really like underwater photography, so it’s nice when I get out and get to use my underwater housing.”

While Boulos has traveled all her life, Holmes said many travelers who haven’t are in need of guidance in planning and executing trips.

Holmes said, “For the Midwest, travel during the colder months to warmer destinations is one of the most popular motivations for travel. But my job doesn’t stop once your trip begins. If there are issues, travel agents can help. When you travel, time is a commodity and no one wants to spend that precious time for hours on the phone with an airline. We advocate for our clients. We use vetted hotels, resorts, tours, and cruise suppliers so that we know the client will have a wonderful experience.”

Whether the trip has been planned to the last restaurant or on a whim, traveling during the holidays for Boulos, makes her “100% way happier when I come back home because I got my dose of sunshine and I get to escape the seasonal depression that causes me so much stress at school.”