How to Minimize the Stress of Holiday Travel

The thought of holiday travel either conjures up feelings of excitement, anticipation, and delight, or endless lines, impatient fellow travelers, and unexpected delays. Our guess is it’s a bit of both. The truth is, even for the most well traveled among us, the holiday crush tests our patience like none other. So, how do you cope with this inevitable part of the most wonderful time of the year? Read on to for our top tips for managing and banishing holiday stress.

Make a List Before You Pack

Maybe you’re more organized than we are, but we find that trying to figure out what to pack in our bags in real-time inevitably results in us forgetting critical items like socks, hair products, and chargers. And the last thing we want to do when we show up at our final destination is hunt for necessities. Also, it may seem a bit over the top, but we really like to plan our outfits for each day of a trip and we tend to pack versatile items that can be worn in different combinations (read: neutral colors). Planning your outfits in advance is an easy way to avoid overpacking, and it ensures you have the items you actually need so you don’t end up with three pairs of shoes but only one pair of pants.

Be Realistic and Practical

On a related note, think about what you’re actually going to do on your trip. How many times are you really going to work out? For us, it’s usually about half as much as we would at home. And that’s okay—it’s vacation! Embrace it, and leave the extra spandex at home. And don’t forget to check the weather before you leave. You’ll be bummed that you didn’t bring your umbrella when the forecast had been predicting rainy weather for several days before you left. That said, the weather can change so bring a couple of flexible items that can be layered to accommodate last-minute fluctuations in temperature.

Pack a Couple Days in Advance

Put on some kicking tunes, grab your list and a glass of wine, and get packing. The music will pump you up for your trip, the list will make the task feel manageable, and sipping some wine during the process will build in breaks that enable you to step back and reevaluate what you’re bringing. Packing in advance also has the added benefit of allowing you to easily identify missing items that would otherwise be left behind—no running to the mall for socks this year!

Get Your Media In Order

Boarding a plane, train, or car without your podcasts, movies, shows, books, or magazines is never fun. You never know how spotty your internet connection will be when you’re on the road, and while most modes of transportation come equipped with chargers, they don’t always work properly, or you may not be able to access them. Wasting precious battery life to download your media of choice will frustrate you and only add to your stress. So make sure you download whatever media you’ll want to consume at home, a few days before you leave.

Pack Snacks and Treats

While there have been some improvements in the quality of food available at airports and rest stops, we still always find ourselves settling for overpriced mixed nuts, off-brand yogurt, or mediocre salads and sandwiches. And try as you might, sometimes travel plans go awry. So the food you’ve purchased may not last for the duration of your trip. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and pack travel-friendly snacks, and yes, treats (’tis the season, after all!). We love going to Whole Foods or Trader Joes the night before our trip and picking up a couple of premade salads, olives.

Leave Extra Time for Everything

During the holidays, everything takes longer. It can be frustrating, but that’s just the way it is. So build a few extra minutes into your travel plans to account for increased traffic, longer lines, and longer waits. It’s an easy way to make sure you keep your cool. You may end up at your gate a bit earlier than usual, but at least you won’t be running to catch your flight.

Exercise or Stretch Before or After Your Trip

The mind and the body are inextricably linked. If you take care of your body, you’ll feel balanced and better able to maintain a positive attitude throughout the holiday travel chaos. Even if it’s quick, get a run in, take a walk, or stretch for 15 minutes the day you leave for your trip. When you arrive at your destination, chances are you’ll have been sitting for quite a while. You may not be able to squeeze in a workout right then and there, but you’ll probably be able to find a few minutes to do a short stretching sequence that will help reset your body and help you relax after your arduous journey.

What are your tips for managing the stress of holiday travel? Tell us in the comments below!