Why I Won’t Travel During the Holidays

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I don't travel at all during the holidays to avoid stress, but if you do, here are some tips to save money on your holiday travels.

If you’re a longtime reader here, you know that I am a recovering Scrooge. I don’t like the holidays. It’s not because of the holidays themselves, but because of how they turn sane individuals into completely irrational beings. This seasonal insanity shows up in how people treat each other (or mistreat each other to be more accurate). That’s right people. At arguably the one time of year more than any other when we are supposed to be showing each other an extra dose of goodwill, we tend to be ruder than ever. That rudeness comes out strong at airports, train stations, bus terminals and probably even at bus stops. Thus, I don’t travel at all during the holidays, and this is why.

People Act Bananas


Is it just me or is it true that when the holidays approach, people actually get ruder? As I said earlier, it’s supposed to be the season of being grateful followed by a season of giving, but the roads, airports and just about everywhere else always feel tense.

That’s probably because 98.6 million people will be traveling 50 miles or more during the holidays. So, that’s a lot of traffic, a lot of long lines and a lot of people getting harried and stressed.


My Decision to Not Travel


After years of feeling pressured to go to this house or that house for the holidays, I decided when I was pregnant with my children that I would spend Thanksgiving and Christmas at home, no matter what, once they were born.

I shared this decision with family members, and yes, I did have to remind them a few times but now they have gotten the hang of it. They know I’m firm on this decision. My goal is to live a peaceful life. That’s why I work by myself in my office upstairs, free from meetings or meddling bosses.

That’s why I try not to over-schedule myself or get too worked up. That’s also why I have a four gift rule for Christmas. I just like to keep things low key, and that includes avoiding not traveling when everyone else is.

I know I’m not the only one who craves quiet during the holidays. I have one friend who literally goes to four different relatives’ houses every Christmas. She hates it. Thus, she hates every Christmas Day. That’s no way to live! So, I say save your money and enjoy the holidays at home. Less stress and more happiness.

I don't travel at all during the holidays to avoid stress, but if you do, here are some tips to save money on your holiday travels.

But If You Are Going to Travel…


If I haven’t convinced you of the beauty of not traveling at all during the holiday season, I’d still like to offer some tips so you can save money while you’re out and about battling the crazy drivers and people rushing through the airports. Here they are:

1. Book Alternate Dates

You’ll have better luck getting affordable tickets if you book your holiday travel on days when everyone else isn’t traveling, like actually fly on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day or travel a week before or after. I have one friend whose family has a “Chrisgiving” celebration every year in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone can make it and no one has to battle with spouses or in laws over where they’re going to go during the holidays.

2. Enjoy the Ride

Airfare is notoriously high during the holidays, even if you do travel slightly off peak. So, consider driving. Even if you have to drive a long way, you can make a family road trip out of it or see friends and family along the way. Driving, I’ve found, can actually be way more pleasant than flying and when you factor in all the time it takes to check in to your flight and then find your bags at the end, it’s sometimes quicker.

3. Ship Gifts Ahead of Time

Most airlines have baggage fees these days, so if you have a lot of gifts that you’re bringing to extended family, nieces and nephews, ship them ahead of time to save space in your bag. Shipping fees for small gifts is still less than baggages fees to check them all.

4. Use Points and Rewards for Travel

The only real way to avoid paying for expensive travel is to use credit card points. You might have to use more points than you were expecting, but it’s a great way to use your rewards without having to shell out a lot of cash. There are many travel rewards cards to choose from, just find one that works for you to help cut down the cost of your travel.

Ultimately, whether or not you want to battle the crowds and the stress during the holidays is totally up to you. For me, I’ll enjoy cooking in my own home and being with my own little family on the holidays. If you do decide to book travel though, make sure to follow some of the tips above to save as much cash (and stress) as possible.


Do you travel during the holidays? Do you do it every year or every other year? How do you handle family pressure to be in lots of different places at once?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • Emma T says:

    Thankfully we don’t have to travel, all made easier by me having no close family left other than my brother who lives 3 miles away, and the OH’s family who all live within 2 miles of the farm. We can nip up the road in the morning to all congregate and take presents to one bro and sister in law’s, and then back to the farm for lunch and the afternoon. Tea is usually a walk across the drive to the in-laws, or up the road to the other bro and sister in law’s. Very handy, and all the family still get to see each other.

  • Kathy says:

    When our son was born we told our families that we would be staying home for Christmas so he could wake up Christmas morning in his own home and see his own tree. Anyone was welcome to come to our house, but almost every year it was just the three of us and that was actually very nice. Now that he’s married, they do Christmas day with her family and visit us either before or after depending on their work schedules, weather etc. One thing I do NOT want is for them to travel in awful weather. Dealing with holiday traffic is risky enough by itself.

  • I’m with you, Cat! When our kids were little, we made it clear to our families we wanted to be home for Christmas, rather than running all over the place to the 4 or 5 different Christmas celebrations hosted by various family members. We stay home, take the week off and just chill (and eat really well). It’s magical!

  • I tend to be “scrooge” and get excited about traveling during holidays. Thanks for the tips. Definitely, booking alternate dates is what helps me lessen the stress I encounter during such time, but the toll on the wallet. That’s the question.

  • Both my wife and my families are within a few hour drive of where we live, so the only travel we do during the holidays is the occasional drive. I definitely feel lucky as I know some who travel thousands of miles!

  • Your first tip is spot on Cat. I saved a bunch of money on my plane ticket for Thanksgiving by flying in on Thanksgiving day instead of the days before it. It’s pretty shocking how much cheaper the flights are.

  • I agree, I too prefer to not travel during the holiday periods. Everything costs so much more, everywhere is so crowded and it can really ruin your mood at times. Best to keep it during the off peak periods!

  • Syed says:

    We always try to travel during off peak times. We traveled around Christmas time once a few years ago and it was terrible. The airport is not a good place to be with a 2 year old at that time! And of course they jack the prices up around those times as well.

    I’m with you on the no traveling during holidays! You can literally travel any other day of the year and have just as much fun for a lot less money.

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