Holiday travel to fall 2.5 percent

The airports may not be as crowded at Christmas this year. The Air Transport Association of America expects holiday flight traffic to fall 2.5 percent from 2008. The holiday period is measured as December 17, 2009 through January 6, 2010. The busiest days in the sky are most likely to be the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday after Christmas.

Don’t expect to have plenty of legroom, though. Part of the decline stems from the fact that airlines have cut flights, so fewer people may be jockeying for fewer seats, leaving you just as cramped as usual. Both the dip in the number of passengers and in the number of flights is a direct result of a recession that has had a magnified effect on the travel market this year.

Last week, Delta, American and United all came out and said that they’re seeing an increase in demand — and from those high-value corporate clients that keep the planes in the air.

Follow the Ghost of Christmas Past to Park Avenue this month

Let the Ghost of Christmas Past guide you to a great hotel room for the holidays this year. Kimpton’s 70 Park Avenue Hotel in Manhattan is willing to live in the past to get you into the city that does Christmas right. Starting now and running through December 28, 2009, you can get a room for as low as $199 a night! Be sure to use the rate code XMAS when you book either online or by phone.

The deal comes with a few interesting perks. In addition to a great location on Park Avenue in Murray Hill, you’ll be able to sip mulled apple cider cocktails at the Silverleaf Tavern next door, and you’ll be given a DVD of “A Christmas Carol” to help keep you in the spirit of the season. At the end of the day, plop your head on a complimentary aromatherapy pillow to help melt the holiday stress away.

When you decide to wander out of your room, you’ll be close to some of the best holiday window displays in the city — be sure to check them out!

Intrepid Travel saves the world with Urban Adventures charity connection

Give and receive this holiday season. Instead of just booking your getaway, Intrepid Travel is upping the goodwill ante, donating 10 percent of all its new “Urban Adventures” sales to charity. This is a new collection of city-based experiences which is likely to appeal to a wide range — from backpackers to business travelers. If you have a long layover or even want to see your own city from a different perspective, this new program from Intrepid could be a good fit.

Ten percent of every sale made in December will be donated to The Intrepid Foundation, which supports 35 community projects around the world. And, Intrepid will match each of these donations fully, doubling the final amount that will be sent to the foundation.

Urban Adventures are not expensive. They start at around $15 and go up to around $144. So, there’s no reason not to check out this new experience, even if you are a local. This new experience was launched last month and is available in 26 locations around the world via 80 trips … with another 250 expected to be added by the middle of next year.

Five ways to make a dollar go further in New England this holiday season

New England was made for the holiday season. Sure, it’s a bit chilly up there in the winter, but bundle up, and it’s impossible not to be sucked in by the charm of one of the oldest corners of America. If you’re looking for a great way to maximize your spending power this Christmas (who isn’t?!), check out five great ideas from New England Inns and Resorts. There’s plenty of variety … but little room for Scrooges.

Cut your own Christmas tree
This is a tough one if you’re traveling any distance, and trying to cram a fir into the overhead bin will not help you win friends and influence others. But, if you’re within driving distance, check out The Beachmere Inn in Ogunquit, Maine. The holiday package gets you two nights in an ocean view room and a fresh-cut Christmas tree from nearby Bragdon Farms. Fortunately, they’ll wrap it and fasten it to your car. Back at the inn, you’ll also get two hot chocolates and use of the sauna and spa – you’ll need this to warm up a bit; Maine gets pretty cold.

Shop ’til you drop
At the White Mountain Hotel & Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire, you’ll be close to the outlet stores (famous to anyone who grew up in an adjacent state). The package includes discount coupons to make the savings even greater, and you’ll also get breakfast every morning (two-night stay required). So, instead of cramming into the local mall, dash off to do your shopping this year, and make it an experience worth remembering.

No stress involved
Up in Lyndonville, Vermont, The Wildflower Inn wants to make your holiday season as easy as possible. Rather than worry about fold-out couches and relatives lurking in your kitchen in the middle of the night, invade the Wildflower and occupy its 570-acre resort. Stay for three nights, get a full breakfast every day and unwind. Every room has a Christmas tree that’s ready to be decorated. And, the inn will serve dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas day itself. Don’t worry: Santa goes to Vermont (hell, he doesn’t live far from it). Every room can be expected to have packed stockings!

Movie marathon by the sea
Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit, Maine is offering a low-key holiday that will make any holiday host drool. Instead of fussing over guests, take advantage of the “Ho-Ho-Ho Package,” and enjoy a holiday movie marathon, caroling and a visit from Santa himself (he doesn’t live far from Maine, either). Bring an unwrapped gift for Meadowmere’s Toys for Tots tree (do it), and relax be the fire.

Think past Christmas
There’s more to the holiday season than Christmas. For the next big event, skip the mayhem of Times Square (or the boredom of watching the ball drop on television), and go to Adair Country Inn & Restaurant in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. Spend two or three nights at the inn, and sit for a four-course dinner on New Year’s Eve. Bring your tux; formal attire is encouraged. A party will follow, with dancing, champagne and a fireworks display. When the festivities are over, scarf down a late-night snack. Drag yourself out of bed the next day for high tea.

Five ways to rock Idaho for the holiday season

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho may not be the first destination that comes to mind for holiday travel. I mean … who jumps to Idaho?! Well, this is a problem that needs to be remedied. If you’re looking to take off for a few days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, there’s a lot happening in Coeur d’Alene.

1. Holiday Light Show: More than 1.5 million lights are hung along the Coeur d’Alene waterfront every winter, creating the largest on-the-water holiday light show in the United States. The festivities kick off the day after Thanksgiving with a parade through downtown with more than 5,000 candles. One button is clicked at the end, bringing the waterfront to life with white lights, a 30-foot wreath and a fireworks display. This event runs through the end of the holiday season.

2. Fantasy Cruise to the North Pole: Cross the water by boat to visit the workshop run by the esteemed Santa and Mrs. Claus. On display, you’ll find a 161-foot Christmas tree with north of 30,000 sparkling LED and colored lights. The lights themselves take on the shapes of nearly 150 characters, from fire-breathing dragons to dancing elves to giant snowflakes. You can take advantage of this from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. Set sail at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

3. Migrating Bald Eagles: Watch the bald eagles stop in Coeur d’Alene every winter to dine on Chinook salmon near Wolf Lodge Bay. From Thanksgiving until the end of the year, you can see up to 100 eagles hanging out on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

4. Shop for the Holidays: Stop by Sherman Avenue, where you can find plenty of unique shops and art galleries. Add a local flavor to the gifts you give this year — a great alternative to the big box stores (and their online equivalents).

5. Parks of All Types: At Silver Mountain, a half hour from Coeur d’Alene, you can do some skiing or tubing — or throw on a swimsuit to splash around at an indoor water park, despite the freezing temperatures outside.

[Photo by Jami Dwyer via Flickr]