Travel ideas and home inspiration for the New Year

Between severe weather disruptions and an increase in omicron cases, thousands of canceled flights have plagued impatient Seattle travelers during the holiday season.

Still, 2022 should be an optimistic year for leisure travel planning, as vaccine recalls help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Add to that an assortment of amazing travel deals from hotels and resorts, cruise lines and airlines, and the new year may finally open more doors to tangible travel.

While international travel can pose delicate timelines and uncertainty with pre-travel testing requirements and fluctuating entry guidelines, domestic travel can be a welcome alternative for many. And luckily for travelers on the to-do list, there are some incredible destinations to discover right here in the United States.

Where will you go in 2022? Read on for three home travel ideas for the New Year.

Holland America’s Westerdam in harbor, Juneau, Alaska

courtesy of CTS Photos

Alaska cruise

Now that the cruise is back, it’s a great time to plan a scenic Alaska cruise. This is all the more true as Holland America prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary in Alaska.

To celebrate this historic event, the kids take an Alaska cruise for just $ 75. Currently, Holland America also offers the Ultimate Upgrade Event where guests can get a free cabin upgrade. Add to that the Have It All savings event, Holland America cruise lines can benefit from shore excursions, a drink package, specialty meals and Wi-Fi with reduced deposits until January 20. Some reservations may also receive up to $ 200 in onboard spending money per stateroom.

Holland America Alaska cruise fares start at $ 799. Round-trip Seattle itineraries include port visits to Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, and Ketchikan in Alaska, with an additional day in Victoria, British Columbia.

Scenic cruise elements also include sailing Glacier Bay for a full day, where guests can see glacial ice formations up close, in addition to wildlife like eagles and whales. In Juneau, adventurous travelers can hike the glaciers while city explorers can visit Alaska’s capital.

In Ketchikan, guests can choose to explore Tongass Forest or visit the Totem Heritage Center. Yet Ketchikan’s salmon and fresh seafood are also a staple downtown or when exploring historic Creek Street. Then, in Sitka, guests will find an astonishing blend of indigenous and Russian history.

Holland America requires that guests be fully vaccinated and provide a negative test result two days prior to departure. Consult Holland America’s travel guidelines before booking.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Martin Wheeler / EyeEm / Getty Images / EyeEm

Discover Puerto Rico

Did a trip to Puerto Rico escape your travel plans? Now is the time to plan a visit to this American-Caribbean destination – which does not require a passport for American travelers.

Puerto Rico is a must-see destination thanks to its unique blend of history, culture, cuisine and breathtaking scenery. Travelers here can explore one of the world’s largest dry forests or experience the beauty of a tropical rainforest. Adventurous families will want to navigate underground caves, revel in beautiful waterfall hikes, or kayak in the iridescent bioluminescent bay.

For city explorers, discover Spanish influences and culinary flavors mixed with European architecture. To get a good taste of the local culture, head to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico for a broad brushstroke of the area, then stroll the grounds of the Museo de las Américas in Old San Juan. This museum offers four permanent exhibits documenting Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage, with additional rotating exhibits always offering new surprises.

Of course, another great way to experience Puerto Rico is through culinary experiences. Pina Colada was invented here, so be sure to add this famous drink to your food tour. Then savor a variety of local dishes like slow roasted pork, crispy plantains, and legendary tostones. You’ll also want to sample the local specialty pastels, which are similar to tamales but traditionally made with green banana masa and stuffed with salt pork.

Want a family hotel near Old San Juan and the beaches? Book a stay at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, offering a secluded beach for enjoying waterfront activities while being just minutes from Old Town.

Check out Puerto Rico’s latest travel guidelines for your island vacation.

Sunset over the Gulf Coast of Alabama

Sunset over the Gulf Coast of Alabama

courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

The gulf coast

While the Atlantic and Pacific deserve credit for their stunning beaches, there is an idyllic stretch of palm tree paradise along Lower 48 that should be experienced at least once in your lifetime. The Gulf Coast stretches from the Panhandle of Florida to Padre Island in Texas, and whatever your travel preferences, you’ll find a beach town for family getaways in the sun.

For travelers on the to-do list, Alabama’s Gulf Coast truly is a beach lover’s destination thanks to its 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches and incredible outdoor adventures spread out between the towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love Gulf State Park in Alabama for its 28 miles of trails to explore among 6,500 acres of protected land. There are miles of cycling opportunities among its backcountry trail, a butterfly garden, geocaching and hiking and kayaking opportunities at Lake Shelby.

Visitors can camp or glamp at Gulf State Park, with many tent and cabin options, or enjoy fine Hilton accommodations at Lodge at Gulf State Park. This eco-resort focuses on sustainability while providing immediate beach access and mouth-watering local meals on site.

Advance booking is also beneficial, as The Lodge at Gulf State Park currently has a Family Savings offer with a fourth night free added to stays of three or more nights.

Along this stretch of coastline travelers will find other outdoor recreation with birding trails, hikes in Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge or a course on the Back Bay Blueway. For the thrill seekers, there is jet skiing, diving, parasailing, and snorkeling to look for stingrays, crabs, octopus, and saltwater catfish. During the summer, the water averages 82 degrees, so a simple family swim session is also a welcome treat.

Dining along the Alabama coast invites travelers to savor Gulf catfish, snapper and shrimp. Then there are the Cajun empanadas, fish tacos, and the savory barbecue. Add locally roasted coffee to your menu, then sip a craft beer from Big Beach Brewing Company. Then follow a fun, sunny beach day with a beautiful sunset along the coast.

Plan your vacation and view the latest guidelines for travelers at

James C. Tibbs