Alamo Then & Now: How Has Family Holiday Travel Changed?

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With the holiday travel season well underway, Alamo, a leading national car rental agency, has asked me to share a memory of holiday travel from my childhood.

I sometimes feel guilty during the holidays when I hear my friends making travel plans to visit their families. Traveling to see loved ones during the holidays has never been a big issue for me, as I have lived down the street from most of my family since I was 6 years old!

Before we moved to Miami while I was in the first grade, we lived in Kentucky – quite far from everyone we knew and loved. With my father in the military and there being three children in the family, we never went to visit my grandparents while we lived there.

Luckily, there was one year when our family came to visit us in Kentucky!

I think that visit from the family made my parents realize how much they missed their family, and when it came time for my father to reenlist in the Army, he did not.

I still remember that road trip back to Miami – made it right in time for Easter! This was back in 1984, before iPhones and iPads – and being that I was just 6 years old, I couldn’t even read a book to pass the time! Since we were moving home, we traveled in a U-Haul van. It was not the most comfortable road trip, as you can probably imagine.

Thinking back on that trip to come back to Miami for Easter, I realize how fortunate I was not to have to travel every. single. holiday!

The funny thing is, now that I am an adult? I travel all the time during the holidays – but that is a story for another day! If you are traveling this holiday season, I hope that you will consider a more comfortable ride than the U-Haul we traveled in all those years ago!

Alamo has locations through the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia, with over 171 kiosks at 63 US locations alone! Because Alamo focuses on value-oriented international and U.S. leisure travelers who are looking for a hassle-free rental experience, you know that you can always find a great deal on a rental car at! Alamo posts deals on almost on a weekly basis in order to give their customers opportunities to save even more on their rentals!

Customers who join the Alamo Insiders can receive an additional 10% (or more) discount on their rental.  It’s simple to join, you can sign up here.

To help you get prepared for your holiday travels, Alamo has offered one of my lucky readers a great prize pack!

Alamo’s Then and Now Prize Pack – valued at $206.96

  • $100 AMEX gift card
  • “1000 Places To see Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz
  • 16oz Wake-up Coffee Mug
  • Relaxed Old Cap

How to Enter – you can do any or all of these entries!

Comment telling me about one of your holiday travel memories!

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Contest ends at midnight on December 27th and is open to US residents only. 

Disclosure: Alamo provided me with a prize pack of my own as a thank you for writing this post. However, the views and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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  1. says

    My great aunt was coming up for Thanksgiving, she lived outside DC and my dad had to get her. It took them HOURS and HOURS to drive the 40 miles to get to our home. It was a real experience.

  2. says

    When I was growing up, it was the reverse of how it is now. Everyone lived in NY in my family. Talk about being right down the street – literally 2 blocks away. Now, we have dispersed and have to do the whole holiday travel thing. And sometimes we’ll even rent a car for the 9 hour road trip from MD to SC. Happy Holidays Hun!

  3. Jessie C. says

    My favorite memory was we traveled with my grandparents and cousins in Europe. It was fun to meet up with family from different cities and then headed to the final destination-Provence.

  4. says

    When I was little all we EVER did was go to the cape (Cape Cod) or Washington DC (I have family in both places). Despite how much my brother, sister and I begged – we never did anything different. That’s part of why I take my boys to Disney World every year. I am living vicariously through them.

  5. Mami2jcn says

    I traveled to Houston to visit my mom’s boyfriend’s family when I was around 11. Houston was nice but it was kind of awkward watching another family celebrate their Christmas.

  6. Jenn says

    When I was young I remember my parents packing the station wagon full of Christmas gifts and then squeezing all 6 of us kids in and traveling 12 hrs to California for Christmas. On the way there we all took turns sitting in the back facing seats with all the presents and that was the year we all figured there couldnt be a Santa Claus, even though our parents tried to tell us he just came early so we could take our gifts with us

  7. Stacey B says

    We just visited my Mom up North for thanksgiving. It was my 5 year old and 17 months old first time seeing snow. A truly memorable visit!

  8. Laura Jacobson says

    Oh I remember as a teen, I flew down to Florida to visit my grandmother! I had never been to Florida and she always spend her winters down there. She passed away years ago, but I still remember that precious Christmas without snow! LOL

  9. Jennifer Marie says

    My most remembered traveling moment is when we took a vacation with our 2 year old and I had to sing about barn yard animals the entire 11 hour trip home.

  10. says

    I remember when I was little, we would always go to my Aunt’s house for Christmas Eve dinner. It wasn’t overly far, but the trip home was always magical for me. I would be looking out my window into the night sky looking for Santa Clause. I never did find him. I always saw the most beautiful sky, full of twinkling stars. This is pretty amazing since we were in Philadelphia with all of its lights. I always looked forward to that car trip home, every year

  11. Margaret Smith says

    My favorite Holiday memories is of traveling to spend Christmas with my Grandparents when I was younger. We would spend the holidays at their house and I really loved being there. We’d cook cookies, have family coming and going all throughout the week we’d stay. What great memories.

  12. Kristi C says

    One year when traveling to visit family for Christmas, the car caught on fire. Everything that was in the trunk was burned. Along with buying all new Christmas presents, everyone had to have new clothes.

  13. Ann Fantom says

    Every Christmas we would go to my Dad’s parents for lunch and then go to my Mom’s parents for a big family Christmas get together

  14. Suzanne K says

    I usually just drove to my parents (about an hour), but one year I flew to Germany and spent Christmas with my grandmother and cousins. Cold but wonderful.

  15. Sarah S says

    My favorite holdiday travel memory was touching down at the airport in my home state after being away from home for 6 months. Seeing the mountains made my cry.

  16. Kelly D says

    We took my son to my brother’s house for his first Christmas when he was 3 months old. Traveling with him at that age made his first Christmas a lot more memorable.

  17. Tammy S says

    I remember when we drove for 12 hours to go camping in Montana. It was the longest trip of my life and my mom hated camping out after the first night. so we ended up staying in a hotel the rest of the week.

  18. says

    Last Thanksgiving my husband and I went on a dream vacation – we were in Paris for 3 nights and Rome for 4. It was a short trip but we saw a ton of things in our time there.

  19. Sarah Hirsch says

    growing up we rarely traveled, so my travel memory was when I was 20 or so and we went to disneyworld (finally) – it was fun

  20. Katy M says

    One summer my entire family- grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins- all went to a cabin in Taos, New Mexico for a couple of weeks. I was around 10 and my cousins were all about the same age. It’s funny to listen to the older generation talk about the “disaster” of a trip now (plagued with snakes, food poisoning and other calamaties), yet the cousins and I all still look back on the trip so fondly!

    Perspective is everything, I guess!

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

    katygmorris at gmail dot com

  21. Denise S says

    The farthest we traveled was about one mile up the mountain to my aunts trailer. I remember always hating it because our relatives always made us look at their travel slides for hours!

  22. Ashley Morrissey says

    I remember travelling with my parents and sisters to Florida when I was younger! We met my grandfather and aunts, it was great!

  23. Cary says

    I can remember a trip to Grandparents and riding in car and my dad’s burps smelling like farts. He had sumpin’ goin on

  24. Amanda Sakovitz says

    i remember on Christmas Eve each year when we were kids my family would sing Christmas song on the oldies channel my dad used to play. those were the days :)

  25. amy pugmire says

    I remember driving to michigan with my family when I was younger. we had a big brown van and we just talked and laughed the entire way

  26. Megan Parsons says

    My favorite travel memories during the holiday was when I was a kid. We would go several hours away to visit family and before you got to their town there was a large frog painted with a santa hat carved our of the rocks neck to the highway

  27. says

    One that stands out is the first Christmas my husband and I traveled home to Miami after he enlisted we hadn’t seen our family in two years so it was a happy reunion.

  28. Theresa Clift says

    We don’t travel on holidays except Labor day, last year my family went to Hawaii. This was a once in a lifetime trip and one that will stay in our memory banks forever as the most beautiful place on earth.

  29. Caroline B says

    The only time we traveled during the holidays was one thanksgiving when my parents took us to florida to Disney World.

  30. Jill O. says

    My craziest travel experience was a trip to Bangalore, India for work. I became incredibly ill and my return flight was cancelled due to the erupting volcano in Iceland. My employer purchased an insanely expensive return flight home, so my round-trip took me around the world.

  31. Stacey B says

    My favorite is our most recent trip to visit my Mom up north for the Thanksgiving holidays. We had a blast, and the kids saw snow for the 1st time

  32. Donna Lindner says

    I’ll never forget the Christmas we, my husband and 4 daughters and I, drove 2 states away to be with my husband’s family.
    We had to bring all the presents from Santa with us along with our luggage for 6 for a week. His family’s traditions were very different, which confused the girls. Then drove back with santa’s gifts, relatives gifts, and dirty laundry.
    We never traveled on Christmas again.

  33. heather says

    Aaah. I remember a trip we took to the mountains one year. My dad, step mom, and two sisters. We were really young then. We had a nice secluded cottage near the top of a mountain…I will never forget…because it scared the crap out of me to drive up it….there was this road you had to go up, one side was going up the mountain…the other side was a very…very steep drop off…I had to close my eyes till we got to the top. Well, not knowing much about the mountains wilderness…they let me and my oldest sister go roaming around the orchards and mountain by ourselves. I think we were about 9 and 11 at the time…we were out having fun…and while skipping. Around a corner on one of the old dirt roads…we came across an orchard that was planted up a hill…it was beautiful…so when we stopped and looked…there was a pack of wolves..just stairing at us from the top of the hill. I froze solid…and when I looked back lol my sister was running…so I kicked myself into gear and darted off to…of course they started running after us…but thankfully we made it back safely..and that was the trip I will never forget

  34. Lara Baker says

    Actually last year was an interesting travel experience! My boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband) took me up to spend Christmas with his family. It was the first time I had not been with my own family at Christmas but despite a horrible ATV crash (mine…) and a heart attack (not mine!) it was still a great holiday!

  35. says

    I loved going to Donner Lake each summer and meeting up with another friend who’s family visited the same time of year. During the other months we were pen pals and we wrote letters by hand and exchanged stickers. Every time we drive by that lake I have those fond memories!!

  36. Michele says

    I remember going to Philadelphia (from Buffalo) with my family. My sister and I were singing Christmas singing songs and generally having a good time. We became rather obnoxious during ‘Feliz Navidad’ and my mother yelled at us. That doesn’t sound like a happy memory, but it never fails to make me laugh.

  37. says

    One of my favorite holiday travel memories is my dad getting “lost” in a parking garage. I am so serious when I tell you we rode around in circles until we figured out HOW to get out of there! LOL! Just one of many funny memories I have.

  38. Tracy Robertson says

    My favorite holiday travel memory was when I won a cruise (I actually won a cruise!) and the travel day happened to fall on my 25th Birthday (which was a holiday, at least to me :0)

  39. says

    My old boyfriend and I drove from RI to FL straight through, and when we got there he fought w/ his friend we were visiting and ended out leaving a few hours after we got there… lamest holiday trip eva!

  40. Kristen says

    Every year we would travel to my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve and on the way home we would search the sky for Santa…hoping to make it home and into bed before he arrived at our house!

  41. MelissaO says

    We almost never traveled during the holidays…mostly summer road trips from New England to the Southwest and Texas. But I definitely most remember the year that we went to El Paso and San Antonio.

    wolverina401 at gmail dot com

  42. Racheal says

    Last year I made my first road trip from NJ to NC to visit family for Christmas. I didn’t think I would enjoy driving for that long but it was actually a lot of fun.

  43. Angela Kinder says

    One year, we went to visit our aunt out of town for the first time on Christmas Eve and even though we had gotten directions off Google, we had forgotten to ask her for directions. We ended up lost and got to the party 2 hours late!

  44. Amber says

    One of my favorite holiday travel memories is visiting Santa Fe for Christmas and walking down Canyon Road in the snow!

  45. Geoff K says

    My most memorable travel experience was taking the bus to Cleveland when I was 16 to visit my best friend who moved before the start of the school year — I took the Greyhound by myself, which was scary and exciting, and I met lots of interesting characters along the way before finally reuniting with my friend for a memorable week.

  46. natasha briggs says

    We use to travel all over the place when I was younger. The whole family would go, but now that I’m older everybody had there own thing going on.

  47. Meaghan F. says

    Everyone I know lives really close, but we did travel to my grandparents every year and we’d watch all the Christmas lights go by together and talk about our favorites.

  48. says

    My favorite holiday travel memory is of riding in the back of a truck with a camper from Indiana to Colorado. I was about 10 years old. My brother and I stayed on a mattress that my father put in the back of his pickup truck. I know it wasn’t safe looking back on it, but it sure was fun!

  49. sheila k says

    The family classic ’55 Chevy, turquoise and cream, carried our family of six hundreds of miles over the years as we traversed the state of California to spend holidays with grandparents, aunties and uncles. I remember my dad getting upset while he was driving us along “Christmas Lane” one year to view Christmas lights because the Chevy’s V-8 engine wasn’t responding well. My dad exclaimed, “This thing wouldn’t drive over a peanut in the road without stalling.” A few minutes later the car came to an abrupt standstill. Suddenly my 4-year-old sister piped up, “Damn that little kid who put the peanut in the road!” The story has become a family favorite.

    Nowadays, family members must travel long distances by plane and rental car since some live as far away as China, and on both the eastern and western seaboards.

  50. Kim W says

    One of my favorites was a road trip right before Christmas with my sister to see our grandfather, we have way too much fun on the road

  51. Geoff K says

    I remember getting stuck in the middle of a snowstorm a few days before Christmas on our way to visit my grandma in Ohio – we got to stay at a ski lodge in PA, which turned out to be great fun, and luckily we were only stuck for one night before we were able to get back on the roads!

  52. Brittney House says

    My first trip to florida as a kid to disney. I was so excited and anxious the whole time that when I got there I tired myself out with excitment and slept the whole day away.

  53. Debra Guillen says

    One of my favorite travel memories is a road trip with my sister, my boys and her daughter to visit my Mom in Texas…we had the best time.

  54. Tiffany B. says

    We live in Illinois so Holiday travel is always tricky! The best was when we sneakily loaded all our young sons gifts into the car and traveled to Wisconsin to visit the grandparents for Christmas. What a challenge to hide all his Sants gifts!

  55. John Stetson says

    Our best holiday trip came while we were stationed in Germany. My sister and her husband flew over and we drove from Hahn AB through Heidelberg, Bamberg, Rotenburg and on to Munich for Octoberfest. Now that is a truly German holiday. We all had a great time.

  56. Jacob says

    When I was about 10 my older siblings were too old to go on family vacation so I got to go with my parents alone. We went to Hot Springs and I decided pretty much everything we did. Pretty cool for me, haha!

  57. JAMES LYNAM says


  58. Lauren says

    We don’t travel too much around the holidays. I remember coming home one year and it was so snowy, which was kind of fun. We might travel a bit next year ,though.

  59. Holly says

    My brother and I would count the houses with Christmas lights on the way home from Grandma’s. I would pretend to be asleep when we got home so my dad would carry me inside.

  60. Hesper Fry says

    We usually stay home for the holidays, but I once took a 6 hour trip to visit my parents and my in-laws. Had a great time visiting both.

  61. Jennifer Reed says

    One year we took our small children to the mountains of Colorado in a snow storm to a lodge for Christmas. It was an anxiety ridden trip to get there but we had a nice time while there with family and friends.

  62. kelly nicholson says

    fav holiday memory…going to nyc for the first time last year and running into all the drunk santas..crazy!

  63. April V. says

    My entire family – me, two brothers, mom and dad, one cat and one bird – all traveled together with all of our worldly goods from California to Virginia. I still have many interesting and fond memories of that trip.

  64. Jennifer B. says

    One year, I was traveling home from Grad School on Christmas and it was very snowy outside. I bundled up, but when I got to California, I was burning up, so I actually bought a t-shirt in the grocery store on Christmas day.

  65. Nancy Sloan says

    Mine was when we went to Disney World in Florida, we are from Michigan so it was sure a change to celebrate it in warm weather.

  66. Laura says

    My favorite holiday travel memories are of folding the seats down in my parents station wagon and building a pallet of blankets and pillows next to our luggage, and making the 12 hour drive to see family. It was always such an adventure, and I loved laying there and watching the world go by, and reading and playing games. I am almost sad for my kids, that their mama knows SO much more about car safety than was known then, that they will never experience that. Almost. 😉

  67. Rochelle says

    One of my best road trips was when I was a little girl and my family went to Yellowstone. It was such a fun trip. I enjoyed the wild animals and pretty scenery. Thanks!

  68. Taryn T says

    My favorite travel memory was when we were surprised with a light snow while traveling back from Alabama, and got to stop and build snowmen…. a rare treat for central Floridians. We made a snowman in the McDonald’s parking lot.

  69. Marie C says

    One Christmas Mom and Dad took us to Cleveland to be with our Grandparents. The morning after Christmas when we were to go back home to Tennessee, it had snowed to much overnight that Dad had to carry us to the car. Before getting on the interstate, we had to stop at a diner and wait for the salt trucks and snowplows to clear the roads.

  70. Kyndra Sherman says

    Tis the season to drudge up old family films…we found ours from a trip to Alaska. Family members who have since passed were laughing and talking on film and it was surreal/amazing to watch.

    themeimlookingfor at yahoo dot com

  71. Charlene Shaver says

    Traveling to grandma’s house once a year. It was a 5 hour car trip with my brother & I singing all the way there. It drove my parents nuts :)

  72. Aimee Fontenot says

    We don’t really travel a lot, but one year we were going out of state (but it’s only about 2 hours away). We got lost for over 4 hours, and it took us almost all day to get where we were going. It was a road trip to remember, that’s for sure.

  73. ria says

    fave memory- the year my sister and I found our Christmas gifts before Christmas and played with them then put them back carefully. Then we acted so surprised on christmas morning. lol!

  74. says

    One year, we went to Florida for Christmas, from our home in Michigan. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at home, and flew to Florida in the afternoon. We then had a 3 hour drive from the airport to my grandparents’ house. Well, we didn’t plan as well as we might have. We completely forgot that all of the restaurants would be closed! Christmas dinner that year was Sbarro’s pizza at a rest stop on the toll road.

    Of course, going swimming on Christmas night totally made up for the plane ride and the greasy pizza!

  75. Nancy C. says

    I miss the times of childhood when all of our cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents would gather for the holidays. Many fond memories.

  76. Rich Hicks says

    My earliest memory of a great trip was around 5yo when we visited Disney WOrld in CA!

    ardy22 at earthlink dot net

  77. Ellie W says

    I remember traveling to visit my aunt in Oklahoma for Christmas when I was around 6 or 7. The best part was that she owned a toy store. Every kid’s dream!
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    eswright18 at gmail dot com

  78. Vikki Billings says

    We never traveled during the holidays because our family all lived pretty close. So I am not able to share any travel stories

  79. Mary Cloud says

    The year we got in the car and drove from Louisiana all the way to North Dakota was the best road trip ever
    annabella @ centurytel dot net

  80. Samantha Mauk says

    My favourite travel memory I have is my family going to myrtle beach, SC. A 13-hour car ride, but learning to boogie-board was so worth it!

  81. MJ says

    I used to drive from CT to Watkins Glen, NY for the United States Grand Prix Race. 6 hours straight, no rest stops, thru the fog in the Catskills.

  82. Sheila Hickmon says

    I remember going to California when I was 10 for Christmas. It was the first time I had ever met my grandparents on my dads side. I had a great time, got spoiled, and fell in love with California!

  83. Samantha Remington says

    Traveling home from CT to southern PA after Easter one year, we got stuck in the car for 23 hours with nothing but Easter candy because of a huge snowstorm. No one wanted sweets that year!

  84. Andrea S says

    The holidays always meant family visiting us. My Mom was an amazing cook, and baker…and everyone returned home to see us each year. When I was a teenager Mom decided she wanted to take a trip instead, and we flew to San Francisco for a couple days then drove to Tahoe in a blizzard. Christmas eve and Day were spent in a really great hotel, with a butler..and my Mom’s homebaked treats to enjoy. It was fancy, fun…and memorable.

  85. says

    My grandparents lived in a very rural (outhouse, one pipe of running water) area. My father would go to visit them to help them run errands every other month or so. His brothers would also go, so that my grandparents had someone helping them at least once a month.

    When I went with him it was the most boring 5 hour trip. I’d count mile markers, look forward to bridges and trains.

    Wish we had Kindles, ipads and ds’s back then.

  86. Sandy V. says

    My favorite memory is traveling with my family during the holiday to visit Disneyland. it was a long drive but we had fun.

  87. Renski says

    Driving on the interstate while on a loong trip to my husband’s family home with our newborn in the car, we hit a snow storm. It was very bad. A semi beside us drifted into our lane and my husband (to avoid being hit) went in the median. He gave the car as much power as it had to travel (controlled) thru the wet, slushy grass and we safely made it thru. We stopped at the next to stop to cathc our breath and headed back out to our destination. We now think twice about travel in the snowy season.

  88. Erica C. says

    I remember having to drive four hours on Christmas morning to see family. We had opened our gifts at home but because we had to drive so far, I didn’t get to play with anything. It was terrible!

  89. Ann Council says

    My favorite memory is going to the beach on Christmas Day and running up and down the sand dunes. The sand dunes are all gone now due to construction.

  90. Samantha Daleo says

    Every year from the time I was 6 until I was 13, we drove from Northern California to Southern California to have Christmas at our Grandparents house. I have so many memories of the 8-10 hour road trip and even greater memories of staying at my Grandparents during the holidays. My Granny somehow made Christmas magical. They both passed away right after I had my own family, so my family never got to experience the magic that I did, but I will forever hold those memories in my heart. They are the reason that I try so hard to make my childrens Christmas magical every year.

  91. clynsg says

    Christmas was always spent at ‘home’–first my grandparent’s then my parents’. Since they lived in Minnesota,sometimes the drive got fairly hairy. But in all the years I drove it, there was only one time when I had to stop along the way and spend the night in a motel because of bad weather. My kids thought it was great, but I just heaved a sigh of relief to get off the road!

  92. Lyndsey R. says

    2 years ago my sister surprised me with tickets to go see her and my family in California, I live in Ohio with my son. It was such a wonderful trip and I’ll never forget it.

    lyndsey.rullman at hotmail dot com

  93. Sasha says

    I lived in England as a young girl and we would spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s traveling around to different parts of England to see the beautiful churches and old architecture in the villages. I remember going to Kent, Stonehenge, Cambridge, Stratford-on-Avon and many other places. We would always have lunch in an old pub and take lots of picture of our adventures.

  94. lilshuga2001 says

    when my gramma would cook for us on Thanksgiving….she never gave me her recipe and took it to her grave- I miss her soo much!

  95. susan smoaks says

    my favorite holiday travel memories are that we would drive 4 hours to grandma’s house each year for Christmas, it was always a lot of fun

  96. Gianna says