The time has come to celebrate the end of 2010 and the birth of 2011. It’s going to be a big year for me–I’m starting The Imperfect Traveler as a corporation, launching The Imperfect Traveler’s Guide to Traveling With Pain, writing new books for the series, doing speaking engagements about traveling with hidden disabilities…and of course keeping up with posting regularly here. After all, this is the blog that started it all.
How are you celebrating New Year’s this year? Here are a few tips for making it a genuinely Happy New Year:
* Choose your entertainment venue wisely.
If you’re going to a club, check it out online or in person beforehand. How many restrooms does it have, and where are they? Will you have to climb stairs to get to them? How many stalls in the restrooms? Is there any info about how bad the lines for restrooms get? (‘Cause they’ll be bad on NYE, for sure.) For the obvious reasons, the bathroom issue will be worse for women than for men.
Will you have a place to sit down for sure? A reserved table, seat, or booth?
How’s the parking situation? In the trendier spots in LA, there’s often no parking specifically designated for club patrons, which means that club patrons may have to walk several blocks from a street-parking spot to their destination. Valet can be a more expensive but appropriate solution. Nowadays, it’s possible to use Google Earth to check on the parking areas around your chosen venue.
* Going to a house party? Plan for contingencies.
If you’re off to a friend’s house for a party, plan for the problems that can crop up in a more personal venue. Again, check on the parking sitch. I’ve had to walk upwards of half a mile from a street parking spot to the front door of the host’s home.
You know your friends–does their house have ample seating for a crowd? If not, BYO folding chair and/or cushions.
Have your friends offered “crash space” for folks who may indulge in too much holiday cheer to be safe driving home? If you’re thinking of staying over, find out what facilities the hosts have for guests. Chronic pain and crashing on a buddy’s basement floor for the night do not mix well. If you can, get dibs on a guest room with a real, non-fold-out bed. If that’s not possible, pack your car with a futon or foam pad, plus warm and comfortable bedding and pillows. Remember that if you’re on the floor for the night, it will be cold down there, so pack more blankets than you’d usually need for a night’s sleep.
* More contingency planning, especially for out-on-the-towners.
Many people plan to hit the road and head home at the end of their New Year’s reveling, then discover that they’ve reveled a little too much and driving home is no longer an attractive prospect. It might not even be about drinking too much–you might just be too tired to drive home–that’s something that’s a big issue for me at the end of a long night out.
Before you leave home, check the area near your party venue for motels and hotels, and call around to see which of these are likely to have vacancies and allow late (or super-late) check-in on New Year’s Eve. If you think it’s likely that you’ll need a room, go ahead and make a reservation and plan to stay over. I do this often when I’m planning a big night out in the City.
Alternately, if you’ve got a friend or family member who lives near your chosen partying venue, call and see if they might have a guest room or fold-out couch you could stay in for the night.
* Bring a day’s worth of meds with you wherever you’re going.
Even if you plan to go home after you’ve finished celebrating, bring 24 hours worth of your usual meds with you–just in case. That way, if something goes awry and you need to spend the night away from home, you’ll be able to keep up with your medication schedule.
* Speaking of medications…do yours mix well with booze?
Now’s a great time to re-read your medication bottles and see whether the drugs play well with alcohol. I’m not an obsessive teetotaler, even though I do take meds that shouldn’t be used with liquor. (Also, drinking more than half a glass of anything brings on profuse hot flashes for me. Ick.) But there’s a big difference between indulging in half a glass of midnight champagne and getting seriously wasted.
You know yourself, your medications, and your physiology best. If one drink is likely to lead to eight more, and that’s going to wreak havoc with your health, stay away from the booze altogether. Volunteer to be the designated driver–in many bars and clubs, especially on New Years, if you mention to the wait staff or bartender that you’re the DD, you’ll be offered FREE non-alcoholic drinks all night long. Take full advantage of this great practice!
* But what about all those other drunks out there on the road?
In the US, most bars and clubs shut down at 2 a.m. That means that the worst possible time to be out on the road is between 1:45 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. That’s true on any weekend evening, and it’s true squared on New Years. If you possibly can, plan accordingly. Either leave your party early enough to get yourself home before the roads get too dangerous, find yourself an after-hours party that will keep you out until after 4 a.m., or plan to stay put wherever you are until New Years morning.
* Gather your physical resources in advance.
On the afternoon of Jan 31, if you’re not working, take a nap. Even if you have to work, come home and nap before you head off to your evening of partying it up. You’ll have much more energy for fun.