If things were perfect, I would be the first one to raise my hand for a family-filled holiday season. I grew up in a large family filled with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Every holiday was an excellent reason to spend time together, enjoying delicious food and creating memories.
Things aren’t perfect, however. As much as I would love to have those same gut-busting, house-filled-to-the-brim holidays for my children, it’s not our reality.
Why I Don’t Travel Home for the Holidays
Children are not great travel buddies.
Did I mention I have a toddler and an infant right now? If you’ve ever tried to take young children anywhere, you know it can be a recipe for disaster. Everything can go up in smoke at any second and it stresses me out.
First, there are the planning logistics. We need to figure out how many seats to buy for that long-haul flight home. There is so much math involved to figure out if buying the baby a seat makes sense that my head hurts.
Then there are the car seats. We could buy a spare set to keep in our hometown, but then we have to figure out seating on the plane. There’s always the gamble of bringing the baby’s seat on the plane hoping against hope for an empty spot in our row. However, we could end up gate checking it at the last minute.
Checking the kids’ car seats is a whole other situation. We’ve been burned before by car seats that were damaged in cargo.
If we drive, there are the endless hours in the car. Our oldest is potty trained but often needs a bathroom on short notice. Both kids have limited attention spans, so movies are not going to cut it for the whole trip. There are only so many times I can listen to the “Moana” soundtrack.
Doing this with children is, clearly, not ideal. But if this were the only roadblock or the distance were shorter, it could be doable.
We’re not exactly next door.
The closest we have ever been stationed to our home state was an 8- to 10-hour drive under ideal road, weather and traffic conditions. Mess with any of those factors and that drive is looking much longer.
Have you ever tried to cross the George Washington Bridge in the snow the day before Thanksgiving? It is not fun. Inevitably, someone would need to use a bathroom while we were stuck in the middle of the bridge.
We made it before children arrived and when we had just one in diapers. With two, making that drive with literally every other person in the region would be terrible. There is very little anyone could say that would entice me to spend so long in a car, in traffic, listening to a 3 year old scream about needing a potty right now. Sorry, kid, we’re on a bridge and the next rest stop is 2 hours away.
Right now, we live half a world away. Driving home for the holidays isn’t an option. Our flights would make that car ride seem like a trip to Disney. And the prices would make our credit cards shrink with fear.
Even at non-holiday times, round trips top $1,500 per person. We would need at least 3 seats. I’ve never done more than a quick look at the holiday season pricing. It terrifies me. There would be no presents for anyone for Christmas. Not even Santa’s magic would be able to make that work.
Financially, we would not be able to swing traveling home for the holidays unless we were within driving distance. Even then, I would emerge from that car looking like the bride of Frankenstein with the temper of a junkyard dog.
No room at the inn.
Or in this case, the house. We both have families that would gladly put us up, but we run into complications.
There is the endless rearranging of bedrooms and sleeping spaces. So much so that I feel a little guilty about visiting and kicking someone out of their cozy bed! Neither of our families has palatial homes, but everyone who lives there permanently makes it work well.
When we roll up, adding 4 more bodies, things get tight very quickly. Of course, everyone says it’s no big deal and that they love to have us stay. Having hosted large family visits, I know the sigh of exhausted relief when you finally collapse into your own bed again. I know.
Then there is the childproofing. Not everyone in our extended families has child safe homes. Again, their homes work for them, and not everyone has curious children getting into the fine china.
Instead of being able to kick back, sing carols and enjoy dessert, I’m stuck chasing down Junior and preventing another tree accident.
Having so much togetherness, especially in the winter, can be challenging. There is no outside to escape to where we are from unless you enjoy freezing temperatures. So everyone is stuck inside. That’s a lot of together time in tight quarters. Luckily, we love our family, but I’m not sure they would feel as kindly toward us after the visit.
We won’t be traveling home for the holidays this year.
It might not even happen anytime soon, depending on where we move next. This year, our families haven’t even asked. I think they just know it’s not going to happen.
In the past, we’ve always explained about the cost and stress of traveling at such a busy time with such little people.
So far, they have all been understanding. We also try to visit during the non-holiday season and invite family to visit our home as well.
For family or friends looking to escape their usual holiday routine, our door is open and the guest bed is ready. Although we understand if you don’t want to brave the rigors of holiday travel either.