Last minute holiday travel can often be tricky and expensive, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. A couple of years ago when my family was living in Texas, we were missing extended family in Virginia. On the day before Thanksgiving, I planned for my family of 7 to make it home for Thanksgiving at an affordable price. Here are some tips for last minute travel and why I felt it was important to be home for the holidays.
What exactly prompted me to book a flight less than 24 hours in advance to go visit extended family in Virginia with my own family of 7? Good question. I had given up on visiting my family for the holidays since we had spent 3 weeks there over the summer. I was doing responsible adulting and saving money.
Family is Everything
Then my friend Amiyrah’s husband lost his grandmother, and she posted a challenge on Facebook that I took seriously. She said, “I have a challenge for you. If you’ll be experiencing Thanksgiving with the elders of your family, take the time to sit and listen to them. Do this without asking a million questions. Let them share their stories with no interruptions. Open your ears, so the stories can fill your heart. Encourage your kids to do the same. If you’re grateful to have them in your life, show them by honoring the many experiences they’ve had. One day in the future, you’ll think back and be so glad that you did this. Trust me.”
Don’t you love the kind of friend that always inspires you to be better? That’s Amiyrah.
This reminded me of my paternal grandparents. They are both Bolivian, stubborn, funny, and sometimes rude. Often rude. Mainly to each other. They are both in their nineties and over it. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me sad, sometimes it makes me roll my eyes, but I always enjoy the sparkle in their eyes when they see my children. For a moment they get lost in the joy of children’s hugs, forgetting what it’s like to not have their bodies do what they want them to do.
Keep Checking Airline Ticket Prices for Last Minute Holiday Travel Deals
I decided to check out airfares just for funsies since my kids kept asking to go to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving. Thank you Southwest Airlines for having last-minute affordable fares! We find that traveling bright and early on the holiday is a lot cheaper. I took it as a sign. So, ready…set..go!
In fact, we were able to get a great deal the next year for airline tickets on Christmas the same way.
Last Minute Holiday Travel
In less than 24 hours:
I purchased plane tickets, made phone calls to see if we were even invited for Thanksgiving, made sure my husband was okay with this plan, cancelled our Thanksgiving dinner reservations, had friends come over for a play date, did 6 loads of laundry, charged all the electronics, packed for 7 people, went to the mall to exchange pants for my daughter that she never ended up bringing on the trip, remembered to stop our mail for a few days, went to World Market to buy a bed for another daughter (because the sale ended that day), stopped by Target, answered some emails, got a little bit of sleep, went to the airport and flew to DC with my crew. Whew. What a whirlwind 24 hours! And the longest run-on sentence ever.
Holiday Travel Tips
Did I forget toothbrushes and coats? Sure. But hey, I remembered the important stuff! Clorox travel wipes, EpiPen, One Direction headphones, charger, and hand sanitizer. Winning! I can’t be the only one who sanitizes all the surfaces on the plane, right?
It can be stressful packing and remembering everything. Medications, ID, cell phones and chargers, and important papers are the necessities. Everything else can be purchased.
Look to fly on the day of the holiday. I’ve always found tickets to be cheaper, especially the SUPER early flights. You can catch up on sleep later. Also airports seem to be less crowded. We also usually return home the day after or a couple of days after the holiday rush. Sometimes that’s not possible due to work and school, but be flexible. Just in case you didn’t know, this is how I feel about children missing school for vacations.
Go with the flow. Sometimes we get wrapped up in everything having to be perfect. If you run into traffic or hit a snafu, breathe, and remember why you’re doing it. I’ve found that a grumpy attitude can ruin a trip more than anything else. A sense of humor is always essential with my crew.
Also, travel costs money, no matter how inexpensive. We talked to our children ahead of time and said, “Hey if you really want this, then this is your major Christmas present.” They agreed, so presents on Christmas were light.
Is Last Minute Holiday Travel Worth It?
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. So we may have to delay our Disney Cruise, new floors, or another family vacation a bit to save more money, but in the meantime, I’ll be listening to my grandparents bicker and opening my ears to the times my Abuelo played professional soccer in Bolivia. I’ll even enjoy listening to my Abuela throw some shade at my Abuelo and snicker out of his earshot for her benefit. I’ll be thankful I got my feistiness from them. Oh and that sweet (and loud) sound of cousins playing and laughing?
Priceless. But I may have to sneak out on a movie date with my husband. This is what family memories are made of, and I have much to be grateful for. If you’re thinking about it, do it! Last minute holiday travel is not too scary. Do not put yourself in debt over it, but plans do not have to be perfect to make memories. Happy holidays, y’all!