Why this family traded holiday gifts for travel and never looked back

Dec 15, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Travel has always played a role in how our family bonded and took time to get to know each other. It has allowed us to get out of our comfort zones and spend uninterrupted time together outside of work and everyday responsibilities. This is especially true during the holiday season. The holidays are a time of year when it’s especially important for families to reflect on what we mean to each other. And, we can do that — in part — by enjoying meals together or exploring new experiences as a unit.

That’s why on our son’s first Christmas, we took a last-minute risk to hop on a cruise to Mexico with our 9-month-old. It sparked a family tradition that we cherish. That year, we traded gifts for holiday travel and never looked back. Here’s why.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter 

Holiday travel takes the pressure off hosting

We’ve all been there. Hosting for the holiday season puts all the pressure on one person to pull off the perfect event. No matter how many people help with the family get-togethers, hosting for the holidays can be a difficult and stressful experience.

Traveling for the holidays, especially on a cruise getaway or an all-inclusive vacation, takes the pressure away from anyone hosting and allows us to actually spend valuable time together. No one is cooking or cleaning or fixing the broken garbage disposal (because something always breaks when you’ve got guests) or running out to the store for those last-minute gifts. Instead, we are enjoying, talking and creating memories as a family with no imminent tasks on anyone’s shoulders.

We want our son to value experiences over things

Photo courtesy of Sierra Redmond

We live in a material world, that’s true. However, as a part of the parenting principles that we wanted to instill in our son at an early age, we wanted him to know that “things” aren’t everything. Travel is truly the best way to introduce the value of experiences over things.

Travel has allowed our toddler to live a life rich in culture, to be brave and try new things, to be thankful for the experiences he has had and have empathy for others that cross his path. These values are why we choose to travel with him in the first place and the holidays are a great time to reaffirm that message.

Holiday travel may actually save you money

The holiday season is a mad dash but it doesn’t have to cost you your savings or sanity. The costs spent on gifts for each other easily equals what you could spend on a family vacation. In many cases, the trip cost is significantly less — especially if you’re leveraging miles and points. (If you do want to buy traditional gifts this year but are tight on cash, learn how to use your points and miles to give gifts with $0 out-of-pocket cost.)

Related: TPG’s beginner’s guide to points, miles, airlines and credit cards

Prepare for a holiday trip by signing up for a credit card with an amazing welcome bonus and then you can use those points or miles for your vacation. Take stock in any free hotel night certificates you have and tally your points to see how far they can take you.

Travel this holiday season probably looks much different in your household but it is not too late to adopt this tradition in your family for next year.

Here are some of the best ways to start a travel tradition during the holiday season…. even during a pandemic.

Try a staycation

Staycations are excellent ways to explore the city that you live in and a form of sustainable travel because you can support local businesses. Grab a night at a hotel, resort or vacation rental near your home and spend a weekend with your family.

Many hotel chains have launched their own “work-from-hotel” packages, which could be good money-saving opportunities for a staycation since they include some really nice perks. For example, Hyatt’s Work From Hyatt packages include things like free laundry service, pool cabanas, rounds of golf, kids’ programs and more — depending on the property.

Related: ‘Workcations’ are this year’s biggest travel trend — here’s where you can try it for yourself

Try camping or national/state park getaways

National and state parks are great low-cost options to get out in nature to explore and remain socially distant from others. With limited international travel options, 2021 is trending to be the year of outdoor recreation and it’s not too early to get a head start on that experience with your family.

Related: The best national parks to visit during winter

Support local tourism businesses

You don’t have to travel to have an experience. Booking local attractions can give you a new perspective on your city and help you support local small businesses. Consider booking a food, historical or photo tour. If you live near the water, look for harbor or river cruises, dolphin- and whale-watching expeditions, and more.

Gift future experiences

Want to be ready to kick off new travel experiences once the world opens up? Consider gifting an experience this year instead of a material item. A cooking or dance class, sporting event, spa treatment or future cruise could be amazing options for gifts and will give your recipient something fun to look forward to.

Featured image courtesy of Sierra Redmond

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.