One of the cornerstones of miles and points in my book is to stay connected to family. Always has been, and I like to think it always will be. That is especially true this time of the year with tons of people travel long distances to visit their family for the holidays. That said, I’m not the type of person that thinks that a week of sleeping on the floor courtesy of a family member’s blow-up mattress, and sharing a bathroom with multiple other adults and children sounds fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it. I’ve also hosted other family members who ultimately had to sleep on our floor when we ran out of available beds. In my college and early working days this style of travel was the norm, and in it’s own way it was probably fun (though perhaps more with friends than family).
Before I go further I want to clarify that if the family you are visiting actually has some private space for you beyond crashing on the living room floor, the visit is extremely short (1-2 nights max), your family could care less about any details other than being together, or you are a solo traveler who can come and go a bit easier than a whole family, then this may not apply to you. However, as a 30+ year old mom I no longer can get away with eating macaroni and cheese and beer for dinner on a regular basis the way I might have in my early 20′s, and I no longer think that crashing on a friend or family member’s couch or floor for days at a time is in the same encyclopedia set as fun. Of course, if it is the only way to visit your family then I say take the good with the bad and make the most of it, but when there is another option available….aka a hotel, I say book it and don’t look back.
Here’s why getting a hotel room when you visit family might be a good idea:
- In this day and age, many like their own personal space. Maybe we are all now spoiled in this culture, but for better or worse people like their space (except perhaps in New York City). Giving up having your own rooms, bathrooms, etc. every once in a while during a vacation can be good for you to a point, but past a certain threshold it is just uncomfortable and impractical. This can lead to short tempers and grumpy people.
- Not all families get along all the time. I love family, but let’s be honest for a second and recognize that not every single family member (plus in-laws) gets along perfectly in the same space for extended periods of time. We’ve all seen the commercials and the movies where eyes are rolled at the mere mention of visiting family or in-laws. I think you can dramatically reduce the chances of some decades old brewing family battle re-emerging by simply allowing everyone to have a little more figurative and literal space during visits.
- Regression. For whatever reason, when you get a couple of generations of family together under the same roof, you will sometimes see some very interesting regression-type behaviors occur where normal fully functioning adults suddenly forget how to clean up after themselves because “mom” is there. The idea of cleaning up after themselves (and their family), cooking, etc. sometimes just doesn’t register because of the old patterns they were used to from childhood, or simply because they are now in “vacation mode”. The only problem is that there isn’t housekeeping and room service available in someone else’s house, and “mom” may now be in her 60′s or 70′s with no desire to clean up after her kid, their spouse, and multiple grandchildren.
- Chaos. I actually like an element of fun chaos when my daughter is visiting her cousins, but I don’t think I would like it as much or for as long if it was happening in my own home for an extended period of time. I’m willing to bet that most others wouldn’t like it in their home either for more than a day or two. Having a hotel to break to at night allows everyone to recharge and be ready for more fun the next day…after the toys are picked up.
- I’d rather have less time that is more enjoyable with family, than too much time that was not enjoyable. I’d rather look back on the family visit and wish we had just a little more time together, than look back at the visit and say ohmygodI’mneverdoingthatagain. I can say I have experienced both types of visits, and having your own space to return to can really help with both giving an element of control to your schedule, and some much needed breathing room when needed.
- If you collect miles and points, hotel rooms don’t have to be a big expense. It may at first glance seem like a waste of miles and points to use them when there is a free futon available for your family at your relative’s house, but I assure you it might be the best use of points you have ever had. Additionally, many of the family members who are visited around the country don’t live in big and expensive cities, they live in smaller and less expensive towns where your points and dollars might take you further than you think. I’ve heard many success stories where people are even able to use IHG Rewards PointBreaks for 5,000 points per night when visiting family (or having family visit them). Even if your family live somewhere expensive, consider breaking up a longer visit and spending part of the time in a nearby hotel.
Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m a bit more Grinch-ish than I would like to believe. I don’t know, but I do know that not overloading a house with too many guests and instead “splurging” for our own space on some family vacations has only been a positive in our own traveling experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how your family manages this issue!