How To Take a Vacation this Holiday Season (Without Breaking the Bank or Making Your Family Grumpy)

published Nov 18, 2016
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Does the spectacular woman on the right look familiar? We’ve not only toured photographer Kerry Maloney’s colorful and quirky New Orleans French Quarter abode, we’ve marveled over her personal fashion (and costume) style. Kerry and her travel partner, Jessica Fender, have even shared their best pointers for on looking good while on the move. Because they obviously do life right (and I’ve always personally wanted someone to give me permission to do this), I’ve asked them to share their tips for skipping the awkward family dinner conversations, snowed-in Christmas stress and other holiday “have-tos” that aren’t required at all. Instead, take their advice on how to enjoy your vacation days vacationing — without spending a ton of money or making your family grumpy.

Kerry and Jessica are behind the Traveler Broads. Here’s what they have to say:

There’s something to be said for going home for the holidays. You’ve got family traditions, big meals — it makes mom happy. But for many people with 9-to-5s, that trip back to Denver or Dubuque every year eats up precious, precious vacation days. Days that could be spent waist-deep in bath-warm water killing another can of Sol in Boipeba instead of — we don’t know — roasting chestnuts on an open fire?

To be clear, Traveler Broads do not have 9-to-5s. But if we are not somewhere beachy with a bottle of champagne in hand by the time New Year’s rolls around, something has gone seriously wrong. We’re big advocates of holiday travel, even though it can come with extra expenses and a little more hassle — (not the least of which is breaking it to the family that you’re not coming home. — See our list of excuses below.)

We’ve been traveling during the holidays on the reg for years. Here’s a quick list of the most common obstacles for holiday travel — and some Traveler Broads tips for beating them.

Last-minute airfare tricks:

Obviously, booking that flight four months ahead is the responsible thing to do. But if you’re reading this now — that’s not you. (And it’s certainly not us!) Airlines occasionally drop prices last minute. Travel search sites like Hipmunk let you set low-fare alerts if you have a particular destination in mind. Or you can be super adventurous and let the lowest fares decide where you go. We use Skyscanner, which lets you set your starting point and list “everywhere” as your destination. You can pick the cheapest vacay spot from there. Also, try booking as a group. Call it magic or luck, but we’ve seen per person fares drop by nearly half when our whole crew bought together for holiday trips.

Even if you’re headed somewhere warm, winter weather can still derail your plans:

Yes, it’s blazing in the Bahamas, but a blizzard in Chicago can still leave you stranded — even if you’re nowhere near O’Hare. (Our trip to Brazil was derailed for a day-plus due to weather. And we were going New Orleans > Miami > Salvador under nothing but sunny skies.) Book the earliest flight possible (that you can tolerate), so you have more time to deal with cancellations, delays and overfull flights. Or, if your plans are flexible, book the last flight to score the travel voucher if something happens. In any case, do your best to travel carry-on only. You’ll have more options.

Or consider skipping the airplane altogether:

Everyone at the airport has twice the baggage, lines are long and the terminals are full of once-a-year flyers. Not up for the chaos? Think outside the plane. Buses and trains can be cheaper, more reliable — and way, way less stressful than flying. is a lifesaver when it comes to seeing all possible ways to get from point A to point B — and has been particularly useful on our European adventures. (And don’t forget Megabus has fares as low as $1!)

Skip the hotel:

Stay for free while helping out a fellow traveler through TrustedHousesitters. Basically, you take care of someone’s home and/or pet while they’re away in exchange for a place to stay. Bonus! Free cuddles.

Bring them along:

Can’t bring yourself to ditch the fam for the holidays? Bring them with you! Why not forget about the presents, the feast and the decorations and spend your money where it really counts — on making memories. Plus, group travel makes everything more affordable.

Not sure how to break the news to your family? Here are some excuses you can use:

    “Grandma, my vacation days are almost used up! I can stay longer if I come in the spring.”

    “But mom! It’s cold up there!”

    “Who can afford to fly in this economy, am I right, Grandpa?” (Note: This one only works with relatives who are not on social media 😉

    “I fell in love with the turkey, and I can’t be there to watch you eat him.”

    “The Traveler Broads made me do it!”

Make it up to them: If you’re brave enough to break free this holiday, be sure to make it up to mom, dad, auntie or grandpa by sending them a gift! The Traveler Broads recommend some killer travel gear… that they happened to have designed! Or check out our super helpful gift guides to find something to send.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

See more of Kerry’s home:

And her fashion: