The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, but that probably means that you’re going to have to a bit of traveling to see them. Traveling during the holidays can be frustrating and stressful, especially when the whole family is in tow. Lines are long, roads are crowded and patience is easily worn thin.
Many people forget that stress can have a negative impact on one’s health, so it’s important to keep your holiday stress to a minimum. If you have to travel this holiday season, here are 10 tips to relieve your holiday travel stress.
The earlier you start making plans, the less stressed out you’ll be once it’s time to leave. Book your flight or figure out the route as early as possible. On the day you plan to travel, leave early in order to give yourself enough time to make it to your destination without being late. During the holidays, everyone is trying to travel, so parking lots and roads are packed, security lines at the airport are backed up and cabs are virtually impossible to catch. Starting your journey early can help you avoid some of those headaches.
When you travel, something unexpected is bound to happen. Your flight may be delayed, your luggage may be lost, or you might even get lost on your way to Grandma’s. It’s tough to prepare for what may or may not happen, but by constantly checking the weather and traffic conditions, airline departure times and delays, etc., you’ll decrease your chances of being surprised.
If you don’t handle the unexpected well, then your children probably won’t either. Prepare your kids for the trip by telling them where you’re going, how long it will take to get there, and let them know what might happen in case of bad weather, traffic and airline delays.
If your kids are starting to feel a little stressed out about the trip, give them some control to help ease their anxiety. Let them pack a suitcase or pick out clothes and toys to bring. Designate them as the person who counts luggage or keeps track of time during the trip.
Before you leave early, make sure you pack early as well. Many people are guilty of packing at the last minute, thinking there will always be time or that it won’t take that long. But, that’s never the case. There’s nothing more harrying than flinging clothes into a suitcase at the last minute, so pack as much as you can when you can.
Aside from packing early, be sure you pack for any occasion that may come up, be it an unexpected change in the weather or a special night out. Make a list of everything you’ll need and check each item off of your list as you pack it. This goes in hand with preparing for the unexpected (tip # 2).
“Are we there yet?” You can expect to hear that phrase at least twice during a long car or plane ride and when you hear it, it’s a pretty good indication that your child is bored. Kids have short attention spans and a low tolerance for long trips, so be sure to pack plenty of entertainment for them. Books, handheld video games, card games, coloring and activity books, videos and music can provide hours of fun for kids stuck on a long trip. You may also want to pack a few surprise toys or gifts to keep your child stimulated and occupied along the way.
You should also pack some entertainment, or other stress relievers, for the adults as well. Practice stress relieving techniques such as deep breathing, visualization and muscle relaxation so that during a stressful moment you can calm yourself peacefully. In the worst case scenario, be prepared to make a road stop or stay over if the holiday travel stress is becoming too much to handle.
Sometimes when you’re excited over a trip, you may not feel hungry or worry about eating. But it’s best to eat a proper, nutritious meal before setting off for your destination. This will ensure that your blood sugar levels, which affect your mood, are stable and balanced.
There would be nothing worse than having to cancel or postpone you trip just because you came down with a cold or the flu. Take your vitamins and don’t skip or forget to take medications, either. Eat right and sleep well in the weeks leading up to your trip. Take the proper precautions against getting sick such as washing your hands often and getting a flu shot before traveling.
Stress can make you feel depressed and fatigued, and can lead to weight gain, sleep problems, digestive problems and more. But stress starts in the mind, so keeping the right attitude about traveling during the holidays, as much as you may hate it, will help you and your family in the long-run. Accepting the trip for what it is and the surprises it may offer will keep the stress at bay.