Okay, so maybe stress-FREE might be a bit misleading, but these tips will definitely help to REDUCE the amount of stress incurred from traveling during the holidays. The problem with holiday travel, is that there are more people…everywhere. So whether you are flying, driving, or taking public transit, probability that you will experience slower service, delays, and cranky people are high.
- Don’t rush. Easier said than done, I know. This is coming from a girl who is perpetually 5 minutes late or squeaking in just on time. While you definitely won’t be able to control the busy, chaotic rushing of others, by simply allowing yourself more time to do things (ie. getting to the airport, checking into a flight or hotel, picking up your rental car, ordering meals, etc.), you will literally see the needle on the stress meter drop.
- Use your privileges. This is where all of your frequent traveling might pay off. Use priority service check-in counters and priority security lanes, and splurge (it’s only $50CDN) on a Nexus or Global Entry card (but apply in advance, as it can sometimes take time to receive) – all extra blessings during high travel times. If you don’t have airport lounge access, weigh out the costs of using one during the holidays. With so many people in the terminal, having a place to set down your bags, connect to WiFi, grab a drink, and enjoy some peace and quiet can be a great stress reducer.
- Choose healthy foods. With a little planning, you can pack some healthy snacks that are security passable when flying, or snacks and meals for a long roadtrip. While all of the fastfood choices at the airport or along the gas station route might be tempting, fueling yourself on high sugar, low protein foods will only lead to low energy, more hunger, and a compromised immune system. Most importantly, stay hydrated (with good ole’ H2O). Carrying an eco-friendly, reusable water bottle is a fantastic and convenient way to remind yourself to keep hydrated.
- Boost your immune system. Make sure you are keeping up on your vitamin intake before and during your travels, and that you are getting enough rest, even if you find it difficult to sleep in new environments. Packed crowds means extra exposure to germs, so wash your hands frequently (or use an antibacterial hand sanitizer) along the way. I’ve recently discovered a super portable Vitamin C organic spray (by mykind organics) that tastes like orange tangerine and won’t weigh down my already overfilled hand-luggage. The last thing you need when you’re feeling stressed is an annoying runny nose as well.
- Plan for delays. Delays might be unavoidable during holiday travel, but you can reduce the stress it causes by planning for it. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on (and with an increase of luggage being handled and moved, you can expect an increase in delayed, misplaced, or lost luggage), or an extra book or game to entertain the kids. Carry small, high protein snacks (nuts, banana bread, fruit) and extra water in case you find yourself with a sudden layover or you arrive at your destination at odd hours, with no services.
- Remember that part of traveling during the holidays is that, well, it is the holidays. So, as much as you will be surrounded by high energy, active people, as well as propensities for delays and mishaps, the best way to alleviate stress is to breathe through and remember that there are good people on the other end of that energy, just trying to get to their own destinations. If we all have a little more patience, a little more care, and a little more forgiveness, we can all wear our Santa hats at the end of the rainbow.
As always, safe travels, and cheers to a great holiday season.