Home for the Holidays (or Not)

62% of millennials who live far from home say they’ve missed holidays with family because they couldn’t afford the cost of travel.

Home for the Holidays (or Not)

Spending time with family can be one of the best parts of the holiday season. However, for many people, especially millennials, traveling home for the holidays is not always an option. Burdened by the financial costs, work obligations and spending time with significant others, millennials often aren’t able to make it home.

We surveyed 600 millennials, living more than 400 miles from their immediate family, about traveling home for the holidays and found:

Many millennials want to go home for the holidays, but can’t always

  • The majority (84%) of respondents like to spend the holidays with their families
  • However, 86% have spent holidays away from their families
  • More than half (54%) say their families made them feel guilty for not going home for the holidays

Money and work are the top reasons many don’t make it home for the holidays

  • More than half (62%) couldn’t afford the cost of travel
  • More than 1 in 3 (35%) couldn’t take the time off work
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) choose to spend the holidays with a significant other
  • Less than 1 in 10 (9%) didn’t want to deal with the hassle of travel
  • Only 7% didn’t want to see their families at all

Most millennials are footing the travel bill themselves

  • More than 2 in 3 (67%) are responsible for paying their own travel expenses
  • Less than 1 in 5 (16%) get help from their family
  • Only 7% have families who pay the cost of travel for them

Millennials are finding other ways to have “family time”

  • More than 3 in 5 (62%) have video called their family during the holidays
  • Nearly half (47%) have visited their families at another time when travel was cheaper
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) have had their families visit them

Alternatively, many are spending the holidays with their significant other

  • 52% celebrate with a significant other when they can’t make it home
  • 18% celebrate with friends
  • 12% work during the holidays
  • 8% celebrate alone

Knowing that holiday travel can be a major undertaking for millennials (or for anyone), we put together some tips for making holiday travel more affordable and convenient.

Tips for Holiday Travel

Getting Cheaper Flights

Start looking early. As tempting as it may be to wait for the last minute to start looking for flights, don’t. Flights only get more expensive the closer you get to the holiday. Generally, it’s recommended to purchase flight six to eight weeks before planned travel, but for the Christmas and New Year, 11 weeks is advised.

Avoid peak travel days. Peak travel days are the days around holidays that are significantly more expensive to travel. For example, the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are always the most expensive days to travel around the holiday.

For Christmas, the peak travel days are always different, but they are easy to guess. Think of the days that would optimize the most time at home with taking the least days off work, those are probably the days you and the rest of the country want to travel. Avoid those days.

If you’re still not sure, try a search engine that lets you select flexible travel dates so you can easily compare price by dates.

Try alternate airports. Always compare prices of nearby airports. Sometimes an airport that is just a little bit further from your destination can be significantly cheaper. With holiday prices the alternate airport trick can sometimes pay off by saving you hundreds of dollars. However, keep in mind smaller airports with fewer flights sometimes cost more, but are less likely to experience delays. Not a small factor when planning important holiday trips.

Getting There On Time

Plot connecting flights carefully. While flights with really short or really long layovers can often be cheaper, be aware of the risks. Shorter layovers run the risk of connections being missed due to delays in the first leg of the flight and sometimes there’s just not enough time to stretch your legs, grab food and use the restroom. On the other hand, extremely long layovers can be especially painful during the very busy holiday season. Consider that lines will be long, seating will be limited and everyone will have somewhere they need to be.

Don’t overpack. If possible, it’s always recommended to try to avoid checking luggage and to travel only with a carry-on suitcase, however, overstuffed bags that must be opened for a security check and then repacked will take time that might cause you to miss your flight. Avoid this. Also be wary of other restrictions like the limits on liquid and gels. Anything that may cause you to have to go through extra security, especially during holiday congestion, could cause delays.

Keeping Your Sanity

Travel early or late in the day. Early in the morning and late at night are usually when airports are least congested and you’re least likely to have to endure herds of other passengers. However, keep in mind there is less staff during those hours as well, so checking-in, security and other services might be just a bit slower.

Choose non-stop flights. If you can afford it and it’s available to you, opt for a non-stop flight. It takes the hassle out of potentially missed connections, off-boarding and re-boarding planes and will get you to your destination significantly faster.

Whatever you decide to do and however you decide to travel, or not, Instamotor wishes you a happy holidays!


We survey 600 millennials living further than 400 miles from their immediate family about their holiday travel experience via the survey platform Pollfish. The survey was conducted December 5, 2017.

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Brionna LewisBrionna Lewis

Brionna is on a roller coaster that only goes up. You can follow her on twitter @BrionnaLewis.