Stack of suitcases in the foreground with a plane taking off in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

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I live on the East Coast, and my husband grew up on the West Coast, where his family still lives. It's not always easy being so far from family, but we make it work -- namely, by saving money and traveling to see one another as time allows. Since I have school-aged children, we often find that seeing family over the holidays makes sense, despite the added cost that comes with traveling during a peak period. But this year, that trip won't be happening. We can thank the coronavirus pandemic for that. 

Of course, it's never fun to feel like you can't travel, but we're choosing to see the silver lining. By not having to fly across the country and spend money on a rental car and other incidentals, we're saving ourselves a bundle of money. Here's what I plan to do with it. 

1. Pad my emergency savings (a little)

At a time like this, having extra money in a savings account is always helpful, so I do plan to put some of the money we otherwise would've spent on travel into my emergency fund. That said, I'm only going to allocate a small portion of my travel-related savings to that account because truth be told, our emergency fund is already quite robust. As a general rule, it's wise to have three to six months' worth of living expenses on hand in the bank, and given the economic climate today, I highly recommend sticking to the higher end of that range. But we're actually already beyond that point in our savings, so I don't feel compelled to put that much money into the bank right now. 

2. Add to my investments

It's hard to say whether the next few months will be a good time to invest or not, but I want the option nonetheless. As such, I plan to put some of the money we're not using to travel into a brokerage account so I'll be able to jump on good buys if the opportunity presents itself.

3. Fix our home

When you own a home, things inevitably break. Right now, we have a couple of busted sprinkler heads, a garbage disposal that needs to be replaced, and a garage door that needs repairs. None of these items are horrendously expensive individually, but all together, we're looking at several hundred dollars' worth of fixes. Even though we have a line item in our household budget for home repairs, I figure that rather than address these issues one at a time, we'll just use some of our travel-related savings to tackle everything at once.

4. Save up for travel in 2021

My family likes to travel (we're especially big on road trips), but this year, we've mostly stuck close to home because of the pandemic. I'm hoping things will take a turn for the better next year, though, so I'm sticking a bunch of saved money into a special account earmarked for travel in 2021. Having new adventures to look forward to should help us get through this gloomier period. 

Not getting to travel and see family for the holidays stinks, but on the plus side, we're now in a position to put a little money into emergency savings, invest more, get our home into better shape, and plan for some fun trips in 2021. If you're not traveling this holiday season, rest assured that you're in good company. Try to make the best of the situation -- and the most of the savings you're being forced to reap in the process.