How to set financial limits for visits during the holidays

For many, visiting family for the winter holidays is a question of “how”, not “if”. But this year, rising costs could make travel less affordable, especially when coupled with other life changes, such as moving abroad, going to school, or getting married.

The best way to tame these vacation travel expenses? Establish financial limits early with your family and friends. Having these conversations can be intimidating, but there are ways to compromise that keep the holidays special without derailing your goals.


As you add new commitments to your life, it can become difficult to maintain the same travel routine over the holidays. Younger millennials may find themselves moving away from their families for job opportunities, such as Audrey Peshkam, who moved to New York from her hometown in Southern California earlier this year to work for an organization without. profit.

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“For the first time, visiting my parents for Christmas will be quite a significant expense,” says Peshkam. “If I stay in New York for the long term, I will have to justify the cost of a cross-country flight every year.” He hopes that as he progresses in his career, the financial strain will lessen.

Antoinette Myers Perry, who lives with his wife and dogs in the Washington, DC area and is currently earning his third postgraduate degree, has been balancing these trade-offs for over a decade.

“When I was in the early stages of my career, I couldn’t always afford to fly home,” says Perry. “Vacations also meant choosing a parent and sibling over another, which was often a heartbreaking choice.” (Perry’s family is divided into multiple states.)

“Now that I’ve grown older and established my family, it’s even more difficult,” he adds, explaining that he now has to take into account his wife’s family and also his dogs’ travel limits.

As work, partners, pets, and children add complexity to vacation plans and increase expenses, it’s essential to keep your expectations in check and communicate them to your family.

FILE – A traveler moves through Philadelphia International Airport before the Independence Day holiday weekend in Philadelphia, Friday, July 1, 2022. The concept of “going home for vacation” changes throughout your life and many millennials are currently going through that transition. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke, File)

Matt Rourke


Finances and family occasions are often two of the most important aspects of adult life, which can cause conflict if they are not in sync. To avoid misunderstandings, communicate your limits in advance.

Perry says that for years the conversation about her ability to go home for the holidays has been so difficult that he would have avoided having her altogether. She would choose to vacation with faculty and community members during college and early adulthood instead of traveling.

Now he is aiming for compromise, helping his family expect visits that work with his budget and schedule.

Whatever your vacation travel limitations, it’s better to be honest than overload your finances to avoid letting people down. Even if you can’t afford a plane ticket, you can still plan to meet friends and family via a phone call or video chat. And in some cases, if your loved ones know your financial situation in advance, they may be willing to cover some or all of your travel expenses.


For many, a significant change in life is when the “home” moves from a place you visit to a place you host. Millennials are building their own homes, families, and vacation traditions and may find it’s okay to start inviting retired parents to come to them. While hosting comes with certain expenses and time commitments, it may be more manageable than travel for some.

You may be able to get your family to come to you instead by sharing your situation. Pets and children are an extra hassle to drive or fly with, and having a new home can be a good excuse to invite people over.


If the flights surrounding the popular holidays are over budget, try a non-Thanksgiving (or nothing) to celebrate the same traditions during a less busy week. Another option is to prioritize an essential holiday, whether it’s a religious occasion, a seasonal favorite, or a family member’s birthday.

“My family cares more about Christmas than Thanksgiving,” says Peshkam. “I can’t afford to go home for both of us, so they know I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with friends.”

If you are unable to visit your family for major holidays, talk to friends, neighbors or colleagues. You might be surprised at how willing people are to open their homes and share holiday meals with extra guests, including their partners and children.

“Spending the holidays with community members who were kind enough to host me in their homes broadened my definition of a family,” says Perry. “And because I shared these different experiences with my family, they almost always forgave me for not coming home.”

This column was provided to the Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Dalia Ramirez is a NerdWallet writer. Email:


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