The holidays can be a stressful time of year, especially if you plan to travel during this time. According to the American Automobile Association, millions of Americans travel further than 50 miles from home for the holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Regardless of whether you fly, drive, take the bus or go by train, there are different things you can do to lessen the stress of traveling during the holidays.
Avoid heavy crowds by selecting a less busy day to travel. For example, do not plan to travel the day right before the holiday or the day after. If time allows, plan to go the weekend before or at least a couple of days before the holiday. These times are still busier than normal non-holiday times of the year, however they are going to be a lot less busy than the days immediately surrounding the holiday.
Select a Different Airport
Instead of flying into larger airports located in major cities around the world, consider flying into a smaller airport. Many smaller airports are located within an hour of the larger airports, still making it possible to easily get to your final destination without having to deal with the heavy crowds that are flying in and out of all of the major airports.
Take the time about a week before traveling to confirm everything. This includes confirming hotel reservations, flights and rental cars. This will reduce the chance of something getting canceled without your knowing or a reservation getting lost. If you call early enough, instead of discovering this upon your arrival, you will have a greater chance of getting things rebooked and fixed before traveling.
Instead of having to carry gifts with you through the airport or pay additional baggage fees, consider mailing gifts to your family before leaving. Do the same thing with the gifts you receive before returning home.
Keep all essentials in your carry-on or inside the car with you. Essentials include medications, snacks, a change of clothing, books, travel documents and anything else you may need easy access to.
If possible, pack everything you need for your holiday getaway in a carry-on. This will eliminate the stress of having to check it, having to deal with the possibility of missing luggage and having to pay attention and keep track of multiple bags.
Also, make sure that everything you pack in your carry-on is TSA approved. Packing unapproved items will cause a delay in getting through security checkpoints and could add to your stress levels of wondering if you will make your fight.
Related: TSA Carry-On Limitations
Carry Necessary Documents
Keep all necessary travel documents with you at all times including your driver’s license, tickets and passports. If driving, have a map easily accessible to avoid having to pull the car over to find the map which may have become buried in the back seat or accidentally placed in the trunk.
Other travel documents should include confirmation forms, insurance cards (medical and driver’s) and permission forms for any non-family children traveling with you. Non-family children include your children’s friends and any other child that is not a part of your immediate family that plans to be traveling with you.
Install Some Apps
Install travel apps on your phone. These apps will help keep you organized from the moment you start planning your holiday travel. These apps will help with keeping your itinerary organized, keep track of confirmation emails, alert you of any delays and assist with travel planning. Some of the best apps include GateGuru, TripIt and Kayak.
Have a Backup Plan
Things can go wrong when traveling, including delays or loss of car reservations. Have a backup plan for everything that could go wrong. For example, have things to do while waiting, such as reading a book or other activity you can do to pass the time. Also, have lists of local car rental companies and area hotels to call should your reservation be lost upon arrival. In addition to having a backup plan, be flexible in your holiday travel plans. Expect that things may change while traveling and those changes should not stress you out. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.
Keep Kids in Mind
You know your kids’ likes and dislikes. Chances are the family you are staying with may not be aware of how picky your little ones are or understand it. Pack snacks and foods your kids will eat while away so you are not having to explain that your child will not eat something that has been prepared.
Pack games and toys your kids like to play with to help keep them from getting in trouble by touching and playing with things they are not supposed to. Do not forget some travel activities to keep the kids busy while traveling. Activity items include tablets filled with movies, handheld games, books, activity books and travel games.
Just because the holidays are here does not mean you have to forget everything you have been doing to live a healthier lifestyle. Eating healthy will help keep you feeling better and avoid becoming tired while traveling. Instead of drinking sodas, have a bottle of water, and instead of grabbing fast food, take the time to sit down and enjoy a salad or other healthy meal.
Exercising has been known to help reduce stress. If time permits, do not skip your normal exercise routine. However, if it does not, sneak in some jumping jacks in the morning before taking a shower or sit in your room for 15 minutes meditating or doing some yoga.
No matter where or how you plan to travel during the holidays, take time to breathe and enjoy yourself. If you find yourself getting stressed out, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes. During this time, recollect your thoughts, take a few deep breaths and splash some water on your face. This will help refresh you and have you ready to take on any challenges holiday travel will throw your way.