Every year it seems to happen sooner and sooner. We inevitably get that phone call or email asking, “What are your plans for the holidays?” The question is usually initiated by my mother, or my mother-in-law, and sets off a whole series of stress-induced headaches.
The thought that usually goes through my head is, “it’s barely September yet, why do I need to be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas already?” But then every year, the question still comes, and I have to start considering our travel plans for the next three months.
We are not alone in this battle of the unintended guilt trips, somewhere in the ballpark of 40 million people in the US are expected to travel over the holidays according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), and that’s less than previous year statistics. That’s 40 million people who probably would rather be spending the holidays in their own home, but are forcing themselves to visit their far-flung family members, because they feel in some way obligated.
Every year we go through this dance. My husband’s family is spread all over the state of Washington, and my family is in the Chicago area, so we usually have to travel at least one of the year-end holidays. We consider events in each family, when the last time we saw each family, when we presumably will be seeing each family next year, and base our decision on where we went last year coupled with the accumulated information we considered. We check airfares, weather projections, and our childrens’ expected behavior. It can be a pretty complicated decision, hence the headaches.
Although it seems early, all the travel websites cite September as the best time to start thinking about holiday travel because you are likely to find early deals. When the time comes, if flying or driving, leave a little early to beat the rush, and expect delays--you're not the only one traveling, and everyone wants to get to where they are going. Breathe, and try to remain calm. Pack extra activities or an extra DVD for the kiddos to keep them from freaking out in delays. It's also a good idea to pack healthy snacks to fend off hunger until you can all have a good meal.