I’m all about experiences over things. I would much rather spend my money on an activity or experience than something that’s going to sit around and collect dust. This time of year, I love seeing gift lists of experiences instead of things. So, what happens when you take that idea one step further? My family and I had wanted to go on a trip together for a long time, but it never seemed to happen. Then last year, we had a radical idea. What if we took the money we would normally spend on Christmas presents and put that towards a big family trip?! So, that’s exactly what we did.
How Did It Work
My daughter, who was 3 at the time, is the only kid so she still had presents as usual (no one would listen to me if I told them not to buy presents for the only kid in the family!!) But for all of the adults (there were 10 of us, from 18 to 60+), we only did stocking stuffers. Then all of the money we would have spent on buying big gifts for each other was put towards the vacation. I have to admit, it was a little weird at first to not have anything to open on Christmas morning. But, it ended up being great! I was able to focus on watching my daughter open her presents, and in the end, being with family is really what it’s all about anyways.
Make It Happen
I would recommend putting one person in charge of the logistics and then organize a vacation planning meeting (we had several – what a great excuse to get together!) It was a lot of fun to brainstorm ideas and pick a location. In the end, we chose to spend 6 nights at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico. This resort was absolutely beautiful, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone! There are huge meandering pools, great food, amazing service and it’s right on the beach.
Where Should You Go?
We knew we wanted a beach destination, so Mexico was an easy choice. Cancun is relatively easy to get to from Columbus and English is widely spoken, so it’s great for first-timers or anyone not totally comfortable going to an exotic location. There isn’t a time difference from Columbus, which makes traveling with little ones a bit easier. There are lots of Caribbean islands that are also pretty easy to get to that offer great beaches and kid-friendly resorts. (Check out Iberostar Punta Cana for a very budget friendly all-inclusive option.)
If you are looking for something a little closer to home, try Florida for a beach destination. If beaches aren’t your thing, check out a city like Chicago, New York or Nashville. Need something closer to home? Take a drive to Cincinnati or Hocking Hills. Or go all out and cross the pond to Europe! The destination actually isn’t important. The important thing is getting the opportunity to go on a family trip to spend time with those who are most important in your life.
Not only was our trip wonderful, but the memories we made will last a lifetime. That time spent together – the laughs, the meals, the fun – that’s so much better than any gift I could have unwrapped under the tree. It’s a great lesson for kids too. It shows them firsthand that Christmas isn’t about getting presents, but rather spending time with the people you love.