As the saying goes: “There’s no place like home for the holidays”—and like it or not, come every Christmastime, it’s often off to grandmother's house we go for some not-so-silent nights (and days) with the entire fam bam. Despite the warmth, the love, and the endless amounts of food as well as snowfall, depending on where you’re at, the nonstop chitter chatter of crazy family get-togethers can often lead to sticky situations that end up ruining the cheer and excitement that the season is supposed to bring.

Seeing family over the holidays can be tough, not to mention physically and emotionally draining. So instead of heading over the river and through the woods this year, why not survive the upcoming weeks away from all the hustle and bustle of home sweet home? Here’s how to not stay with your family for the holidays.

Use These 6 Tips To Avoid Family Stress This Holiday Season

1. Rent multiple vacation houses.

For a nice separation of space, try renting out several different spots to getaway to if you’re forced to stay in close quarters with the rest of the clan. Whether it’s a couple of units by a lake, a few cabins in the mountains, or a large beach house beauty right along the seashore, it’s nice to have a sanctuary all to yourself away from all the merriment to just relax at and truly enjoy the holidays.

2. Plan a separate family trip far far away.

Jet off and visit a foreign land or just simply be out of the country. Plan way ahead of time an international vacation for the holidays and tell the rest of the family that you won’t likely be making it to the festivities. It’s the most wonderful time of year for a reason so why not go a different route this year – literally – and schedule a whole new kind of adventure with the loved ones you actually want to spend the holidays with?!

3. Stay with locals.

Experiencing something new and exciting can be a superb way to spend any winter, and sometimes, traveling away from the family is one of the best ways to do that. Get in the spirit of things by opening yourself up to a whole new world of cultures and traditions by spending time with local families and by immersing yourself in true diversity. By using vacation rental sites that allow travelers to stay with locals, you’ll be able to easily foster cultural connectivity, to get a unique glimpse and elevated understanding of how others around the globe celebrate the family-centric winter holidays, and to experience a whole lot more than your average turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving or spiral-sliced ham on Christmas Eve.

Be sure to check out local Christmas markets or seasonal festivals in the area where you are planning to travel to further explore and learn how the holidays are celebrated around the world. Like did you know that they do Christmas lunch instead of dinner in New Zealand, or that Germans get treats leading up to the holidays, and that the Swedes and Finns open presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning? Find out this year by having a traveler’s Christmas with no gifts, no formalities, and no pressure. You’ll likely get a renewed appreciation for what the season is really about and a chance to finally create new traditions and memories.

4. Volunteer!

Unfortunately, cramming the best and brightest of family time into a few hectic days is often a recipe for drama and disaster. For many families, the holidays are a long-awaited (or dreaded!) time of family gathering, when relatives scattered all throughout the country come together to reconnect. The hassles of travel are sometimes the only things putting a damper into an otherwise cheerful season. Instead of dealing with all that drama, choose to do some actual good by helping out at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. It’s a terrific way to spread a bit of extra love and laughter to those less fortunate that all of us—not to mention a much better use of our time, energy, and efforts.

5. Say “No” & Simply Stay Home.

When you’re faced with dealing with the demands of a houseful of relatives or trying your hardest to fairly split the festivities between branches of the family tree that don't get along, it’s often tempting to just stay home. Surprisingly, according to numerous psychologists, this may actually not be such a bad idea.

Though avoiding kin altogether is probably not the most ideal, it’s more than okay to take a holiday off from attempting to see and please every single one of those relatives—it may actually be quite restorative for familial relations and can definitely take a large load off your shoulders as life tends to get super chaotic for holiday hosts and guests alike. Keep this holiday on your own terms by skipping the annual trip home. You’ll dodge the hassles of travel delays, awkward silences, over-served relatives, and tons of unneeded headaches.

6. Use those kids.

There’s never been a better time to rein in the little ones, as people tend to understand that it’s difficult traveling with a baby or with kids in general. You can also use the “I want to wait until my child can remember the trip” excuse, or that the munchkins simply don’t do well with or on planes, trains, or in automobiles. Traveling with kids can also be too expensive and simply over the budget, so when attempting to not stay with family for the holidays, is often a legitimate reason to just opt out of another hectic annual meeting.

This article was written by Pamela Chan.