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Holiday Travel: No, Not the Sofabed!

John Deiner

Don't tell my family what I'm about to reveal here, okay?

For years, my wife and I have made the yearly trek to see the fam in Delaware, Central Jersey and Upstate New York. In three short, exhausting days, we're usually able to pack about 600 miles on the car, pay 20 or 30 bucks in tolls and visit with every remaining living relative that we still keep in touch with. Sound familiar?

But we grew tired of sleeping on floors, couches, bunkbeds and the dreaded sofa bed long ago. You know family: You just have to stay at their home or the holiday is ruined. Our solution? Lying. For the past few years, thanks to the magic of cellphones, we've been booking hotel rooms and telling relatives that we're staying with another part of the extended family. If they need us, they can call us.

As a result, we've gotten the greatest gift of all for Christmas: a good night's sleep and an excuse to avoid helping clean up.

That said, now is a good time to go looking for rooms if you haven't already. We've found that, generally, availability is decent on Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Best to hit sites like and to get a general sense of what the prices are like, then go to the hotels' Web sites to see if there are deals for those nights. For instance, Marriott is offering Pure Magic packages through January, and they're good for the Christmas holidays. The deal includes breakfast, so you can actually eat something besides fruitcake and eggnog before you head over to Mom and Dad's.

Anyone else feel the pressure to stay on the floor and not in a hotel? What do you do?

By John Deiner |  December 7, 2007; 10:21 AM ET  | Category:  John Deiner
Previous: Dust Off the Skis and Snowboards! | Next: Holiday Stays: It's All Relative

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I was always pressured to stay with at my sister's house in Florida. My sister is not a good housekeeper and has about 15 cats. I would sleep on a futon in the guest/utility room. No computer, a brother in law that who plays "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" over and over again, and a television that was always turned onto some televangelist.

Two years ago I said that I would only come there if I could stay at a hotel. They hated the idea, but I stuck to my guns. Yes, it was more expensive, but it sure made for a better holiday.

One note: Make sure that you use your car to go to and from the hotel to your relatives. Don't fall for the "We'll drive you" trick. You'll be hostage at their place until they are ready to drive you back to your hotel.

Posted by: Dan | December 7, 2007 10:51 AM

When necessary for sanity and/or to reduce overcrowding, the adults stay at a nearby economy motel where there is an indoor pool. The kids stay with the cousins and the cousins' parents at the house. Everyone comes to the motel to swim/play/hang out poolside and eat pizza (if the motel permits). The parents who host the mob of children on their floor/inflatable mattresses/sofa beds are allowed to leave a responsible teenager in charge of the sleeping, TV-watching, or computer-game-playing babes and to meet the other adults at the motel (or elsewhere) for breakfast. It works fine.

Posted by: cotopaxi | December 7, 2007 2:37 PM

I posted on the "ditching home for the holidays" post below, and noted we stay in hotel rooms.

While we just weren't up to it this year (especially my husband who spent at least 1/2 if not 2/3 of the year in hotel rooms for business travel), we originally forced that issue on my in-laws and now won't visit them any other way (Christmas or not).

The first year we did it, my MIL grumbled non-stop on the run up to Christmas. She seemed to think that we were going to be checking into some sort of mythical spa/resort and dropping by the house for 30 minutes on Christmas Eve. Where we would be doing this, I have no idea - there's really nothing more than basic hotels in the area.

But we were tired of sleeping on my BIL's bed (he's near 30 and still living at home), while he grumbled about sleeping on the sofa. Because honestly, we probably would have rather had the sofa and floor with some cushions. He sleeps in the double-bed he's had since childhood. Our backs are shot after the first night - and we both kept rolling/falling into the long-worn divot and knocking heads.

Not to mention - there's only 1 bathroom. When we're there - it's 6 adults. And then other family with kids come's not amusing.

Oh yeah - my BIL also smokes like a chimney (ick). Our clothes and luggage reek when we get home.

Hotels are a huge relief. We stay at something basic closer to the airport, letting us be more flexible in our arrival/departure times. We'll run our clothes through a dryer with softener sheets to kill the worst of the cigarette smell before we pack them. We don't have to share the bathroom with everyone for morning ablutions. We are also closer to other relatives so we can swing by and have a nice visit with them individually, instead of being trapped at my in-laws remote house and only seeing them for a few hours on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

My MIL has admitted that it works out better for the house's logistics flow, especially since we offer to stop by and pick up supplies on our way into the house. Not to mention some mornings, we're there before some people are awake, so it's not like we're lolling around in some comfortable room - we're just sleeping and bathing elsewhere.

My family? My parents PAY to put extra family in nearby hotels, so everyone has some space and room. They realize we are no longer teenagers or in our early 20's and need some privacy and space. I love my parents...

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 7, 2007 2:56 PM

For me it really comes down to who's house I am staying at, and who else is going to be there. Available funds do play a role. If the festivities are at my one brother's house, I will stay with him. He has a spare room, and only 2 kids, who are usually pretty quiet in the morning. My other brother has 4 kids, and if I can, I spend the night elseware. He is also closer to hotel options. But, when I visit family on vacation (usually ones that I only see once every 4 or so years, I usually crash with them.

Posted by: rja112 | December 10, 2007 2:43 AM

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