Being from Dublin, I’ve rung in most of my New Year’s in Ireland. The celebrations that take place on the Emerald Isle are not notably different from what you might find in the United States, the UK, or in many other Western countries.
People have parties, drink, have a countdown, and hope they’ll have someone to kiss when the clock strikes midnight. There are fireworks and renditions of “Auld Langs Syne.” It’s all usually followed by a string of New Year’s resolutions and hopes that the year ahead will be the big one.
Like everywhere, New Year’s Eve is a popular holiday in Ireland. But it wouldn’t be my favorite. At the risk of sounding like a New Year’s Grinch, I have to admit that I find something a little contrived about the merriment. But that doesn’t mean I dread the rival of the last day of the year. In fact, I’ve found a way of turning it to my advantage.
The annual migration that kicks into gear either side of Christmas makes this the most expensive time of year to travel. There’s also a particular pinch point around the first weekend after New Year’s Eve when everyone is trying to get back in time for work or school. As a result, if you’re willing to skip the New Year’s celebrations, you can enjoy great savings.
Take this year. I made plans for an editorial scouting trip around the Caribbean that would involve flying from Dublin to Barbados via the United States in early December. From there I was on to St. Kitts, Antigua, and Montserrat, then back to Ireland shortly after Christmas.
The Christmas rush, though, meant flights were not cheap. The best price I could get when flying back just after New Year’s Day was about US$1,800. Around two-thirds of that overall price was being eaten up by those amped-up post-New Year’s return flights. However, by skipping the cheap champagne and the “new year, new me,” conversations, I was able to dramatically cut down on my travel costs. The final price I got on that round trip from Dublin to the Caribbean when I opted to return to Dublin on New Year’s Eve came in at just US$745.
I had the same experience last year. I’m a big fan of escaping as much of the Irish winter as I can, so, come last December, I flew to Southeast Asia. After a month of researching and writing from Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand, I spent Christmas having a beach barbeque on a tropical island off the coast of Cambodia.
Then I booked my return to Ireland, enjoying another cut-priced flight back to Europe thanks to being willing to fly on New Year’s Eve. The return trip from Dublin to Phnom Penh, traveling at the busiest time of the year, came to just 780 euro.
Here’s another benefit to long-haul travel on New Year’s Eve: Your flight will likely be mostly empty, meaning plenty of vacant seats to stretch out on.
Yes, there’s a downside. It can be a little depressing ringing in the New Year in an airport departures hall or at 30,000 feet in a near-empty cabin. But the extra money in my bank account makes all that a little bit easier to live with.
My advice? Take to the skies on New Year’s Eve and save big in the process.