Solving The New Year's Vacation Dilemma

Some years ago I discovered my answer to the New Year's Eve conundrum, and that is to build a great trip around that night.
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From The Globetrotter Diaries by Michael Clinton, copyright © 2013, published by Glitterati Incorporated.

Talk to most people about New Year's Eve and you'll usually hear a big sigh. It's one of those nights that are fraught with high anxiety. There's some grand expectation that if you're not doing something fabulous then you are, well, a bit of a loser. Put me in that category.

I've tried it all. Fancy dinner parties, low-key get-togethers with friends, a midnight run in Central Park, dinner and a late movie. I've even gone to bed before midnight, though I rarely admit that to anyone. When I was a kid, we'd stand on the front porch of our house and bang pots. The whole neighborhood did it as we yelled "Happy New Year" into the cold, winter night.

Some years ago I discovered my answer to the New Year's Eve conundrum, and that is to build a great trip around that night. If you were in some exotic location, then the question "What did you do on New Year's Eve?" would handle itself. I'd be able to answer the question by saying, "Well, I was in El Calafate, Argentina. We did some ice-climbing on the Perito Moreno glacier, then we went back to our estancia and had a big communal dinner with everyone there."

Sounds good, doesn't it? What I didn't mention is that at 12:15 a.m., we were all in bed, lights out, as we had a long hike the next morning. But, you get my point. Now I can boast many memorable New Year's Eve celebrations without feeling like someone had a better time than me. I've managed to cover the seven continents with my global tour of New Year's Eve celebrations.

Here are a few samples of what you might want to put on your list for future year-turning events.

While I experienced the millennium in Cape Town, at a spectacular private party complete with fireworks and a native dance presentation, my real suggestion is to be out in the bush, sitting around a campfire with a bunch of friends after spending the day watching the local wildlife. Put a safari on your list to ring in the New Year.

I once brought in the New Year on a Japan Airlines flight en route from Bangkok to Tokyo, sipping champagne and eating sushi. We were proud of the fact that it was the anti-New Year's Eve, but there have been other more notable experiences. Being in India at one of the Oberoi hotels is a great way to toast in the New Year, or being on the top of a mountain in Bhutan can be a spiritual way to celebrate.

South America
For me, it's all about Mendoza, particularly at the Cavas Wine Lodge. Here you'll have an intimate evening of fine food, great Argentine wines, some fireworks and a great party that will turn into dancing under the moonlit summer night.

Ring in the New Year on a Russian icebreaker somewhere off of the Antarctic Peninsula. You'll have midnight sun and when you look up into the huge, clear sky, you'll believe that everything that you want for the New Year will come to pass. There's also something very special about sipping champagne that's been chilled in a bucket filled with iceberg shavings.

You want to be right in Sydney Harbor amid the chaos. Since this is one of the first cities in the world to ring in the New Year, you'll feel like you're way ahead of your friends, as you'll have done it first.

North America
I vote for Santa Fe, New Mexico. Assemble a group of family and friends and sit around a fire pit, sipping margaritas and eating some of your favorite Tex Mex food. Go to sleep just after midnight and head to the ski slopes the next morning.

It's all about Paris. The Champs Elysees is one big festive party and what better way to be in a good mood than to walk the streets of this spectacular city as the clock strikes midnight? Bring the Veuve Clicquot with you and take it all in!

Okay, I admit it. Maybe I'm not a loser after all. I've mastered how New Year's Eve works best for me. That's not to say that if sitting at home watching the ball drop in Times Square via TV and having a beer is what makes you happy that you shouldn't do that. Whatever works for you. I just know that as long as I can, I'll be globetrotting somewhere to celebrate New Year's Eve.

And someday, when I'm old and gray and I may not be able to do that any longer, I already have my plan. I'll get the best pots out of the cabinet, head to the front porch and bang away.

From The Globetrotter Diaries by Michael Clinton, copyright © 2013, published by Glitterati Incorporated.

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