One of the most stressful things about the holiday season can be the travelling involved. Traffic, young children, accommodation arrangements – there’s a lot to think about, and if you live far from where you celebrate, the trip can be overwhelming. But there are things you can do to minimize the stress, stay healthy, and keep your sanity while away from the comforts of home.
1. Find your own space. Holidays have so many moving parts – family members you might only see once a year (sometimes for good reason), a wide range of personalities in a small space, conflicting preferences in food, activity level and personal space. Although staying with family might seem like a good idea – whether to save money or avoid hurt feelings – it’s a good idea to have somewhere you can escape to. A hotel room nearby where you can relax and not worry about being on your “best behavior” might just be the thing that saves the day.
2. Pack snacks. Parents of young children have likely learned this trick, but even people with teenagers or no children at all can benefit. “Hanger” (Hunger induced anger) is real, and being cooped up in a small space can exacerbate the issue. Having nuts, fresh fruit, crackers and other easy snacks on hand can help. If you’re flying, be sure to grab something to eat before boarding. Many flights don’t serve food any longer, and even if they do offer a snack, it’s usually too small to make a difference in real hunger.
3. Take breaks as necessary. If you are driving long distances, don’t time it to the minute. Plan for unexpected delays by giving yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Get out of the car and take a brisk walk, do some jumping jacks, or just let the kids run off some energy. Plan ahead for interesting pit stops, or take a longer route with less traffic – moving is always better than sitting still! When flying, leave extra time between connecting flights especially if you will be in an unfamiliar airport.
4. Keep it simple. You don’t need to bring everything in your closet. Choose one special holiday outfit, and then stick to basics. You aren’t likely to have a huge space to spread out in, and the less you pack, the less you have to keep organized. Let the kids help with packing too - just make a checklist so they don’t end up with a bag full of Pokemon cards and no underwear! Packing light can make air travel easier too - if you don’t have to check a bag you don’t have to wait when you get where you’re going.
5. Plan travel wisely. If driving, leave before most people are up, or after they’ve gone to sleep. Traffic is far less likely to be backed up if you travel really early or late in the day. And children may be more likely to sleep, cutting down on the number of times you have to hear “are we there yet?” Also avoid peak travel days when possible (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, for instance). Go a few days early, or travel on the actual holiday to avoid the crowds.