Christmas is a magical time of year in Australia, families get together, throw a few prawns on the barbie, crack open the VB and wait for Santa. Usually the outside temperatures are hotter than the oven roasting the ham and by 4pm we’re sweating up a storm. Yes, that’s Christmas Lunch down under.
But it’s a different story on the other side of the world, a traditional Christmas in New York is exactly that. It’s cold outside, probably snowing, Santa isn’t wearing thongs and boardies, there’s turkey, carol singers in the streets and Christmas lights that will melt the hearts of adults and children. It’s a White Christmas every Aussie deserves to experience at least once!
With a layby holiday you can plan ahead and book at least 2 years in advance, giving you plenty of time to save and get excited!
If you’re planning on travelling with young kids choose an age where you know they’ll appreciate the money and planning that goes into a holiday like this, but still young enough to be excited about Santa tracking them down in another country.
Our two girls, aged 10 and 7 still talk about this holiday 2 years on and will for years to come! What do they remember? Ice Skating on Christmas Eve, the decadent window displays on every street corner, exploring Central Park rugged up against the cold, and of course the red and green M&M’s at the world’s biggest lolly shop!
Preparation is key to ensure you enjoy every step of this holiday as it’s packed with fellow tourists. Follow my top tips to help you navigate the cold, the crowds and the giant pretzels.
1. Choose a hotel close to a subway station so you can utilize public transport, it’s the fastest and cheapest way to get around.
2. If you’re there for Christmas Day, pre-book a lunch at your hotel or research what’s on offer at hotels near you. Leaving a lunch booking until the last minute is not a good idea.
3. Christmas Day is a good day to visit the beautiful window displays at Barney’s and other major department stores, as well as the giant Christmas Tree at The Rockefeller Centre. The crowds are still huge so be prepared to join the throng.
4. Ice-Skating is a quintessential NY experience! Pre-book online and aim for the first skate of the day to avoid long queues. The most popular are The Rink at Rockefeller and the Wollman Rink in Central Park.
5. Include a New York City Pass in your layby. For one set price choose 6 famous landmarks to visit. The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and The American Natural History Museum to name a few. To avoid waiting in the cold in long queues start your day early and bring good walking shoes so you can explore the areas around these famous sites.
6. If your feet refuse to keep walking, grab a horse and cart and take a ride around Central Park under the warmth of a blanket!
7. If you’re kids love candy they’ll love the giant M&M’s shop, set over 3 levels! Get some cash, some big pockets and skip breakfast!
8. A visit to Ground Zero should be at the top of your list. A moving tribute to 9/11 where you will find some serenity. Pre-book a tour or head around the corner to the 9/11 museum where you can read and hear stories from the victims of this terrible tragedy.
9. Remember to pack ultra-warm clothing, much of this holiday will be spent outdoors and the wind can be bitterly cold.
10. If you want to shop wait until boxing day when the sales start. There are thousands of unbelievable bargains to be found in department stores and clothing chains.