“This is the last and final call for the flight boarding at Gate 74.  Passenger Curry Cracker board immediately, the gate is ready to close.  Repeat, this is the last and final call for the flight boarding at Gate 74…”

It’s a tight connection and the first leg arrived late.  Sprinting the length of the terminal, we dodge confused parents, leap over lost children, and climb over the mountain of over-sized bags that should have been checked. 

How I Remember Holiday Travel

Out of breath, tired, cranky, and hungry, we just slip through the door as the gate closes.  Everyone on the plane glares at us as we shuffle to the back of the plane to our separate middle seats in the last row.  The overweight passenger next to me has half of his girth spilling over the arm rest into my lap.  I paid $1000 for this crappy seat with a crappy connection, and now you want me to pay for peanuts and a headset so we can tune out to a B-grade movie from the 80’s?  It was bad the first time, why would I want to watch it again?

That’s how I remember the last time we flew for a holiday.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chinese New Year, it’s all the same.  The airport is a madhouse and the increased demand drives prices through the ceiling, and everybody, the airline passengers and the employees, are all dealing with the stress in a less than elegant way

But what can you do?  With family in a different state (or country), and crazy work schedules, the holidays seem to be the only time to get everybody together.  No wonder so many people travel at these peak times while knowing just how miserable it is going to be.  When I had to travel around the holidays I would spend hundreds of dollars extra to avoid connections, if the direct flights weren’t already sold out

Despite my less than fond memories of holiday travel, somehow we had decided this year we were going to go to Mexico for Thanksgiving.  I had a $99 companion ticket, and with a 12 hour layover at LAX the flight still came to $1200 for two people.  The second I quit my job, I looked at cancelling the tickets, and in the process rediscovered what is known by everybody that has ever traveled:  if you have flexibility in your schedule, travel can be dirt cheap.

With some minor adjustments in travel dates, that $1200 expense dropped to an incredibly low $350!  With $850 extra in our pockets, instead of going for a week, why not go for a month?!  The difference would easily cover our expenses for the extra weeks

In the end, we decided to work slowly through the downsizing process and get to the travel a bit later.  Time is an asset now, let’s use it.  Never again will we have to travel at an inconvenient time or at ridiculous expense.  Instead, a small Thanksgiving meal with friends will be a great way to close out our time in Seattle, and to express our gratitude for the opportunities we have.

This holiday I’m thankful for our great friends, our loving families, our health, and the opportunity to embark on our travel adventures.  And that we don’t need to go anywhere near an airport