Holiday Travel: 10 Tips to Make it (Mostly) Stress Free

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Looking ahead to the next couple of months, my travel calendar is steadily filling up, slowly edging out any free time. Between having families on opposite coasts, traveling to prospective locations for our upcoming wedding, and the usual seasonal rush to my business, it can all be a bit overwhelming.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, and it goes without saying that I'm grateful to be able to spend my time with so many loved ones, so here is how I'm planning to prepare and make the most of every minute.

1. Make a schedule and be realistic. While it can be tempting to agree to every dinner and party invitation in the spirit of the season, write down all of your non-negotiable commitments and plans before you overextend or double book yourself, and remember to include a little recovery time.

2. Book early. Whether it is travel, a car rental or just dinner reservations, booking before the holiday rush begins can save you a lot of trouble and help you avoid the hike in fees that accompany last minute reservations.

3. Find care for your pets. Determine if you will be bringing your pets along or finding care and then plan accordingly. If you plan to bring them, research the pet policies where you will be staying or consult with your host. If you need to find care, leave time to visit the facility or meet your petsitter in person. Be aware that a reputable caregiver will likely book up early.

4. Get your shopping done in advance. Whether you need to stock up on hostess gifts or are celebrating Christmas out of town, getting your shopping out of the way before traveling means you can be at home relaxing instead of fighting your way through the crowds at the mall.

5. Notify relatives of your plans. If you are planning on visiting relatives for the holidays, be sure to give them plenty of advanced notice of your itinerary so they can plan accordingly (or refer you to the nearest hotel).

6. Work ahead. Getting a jump start on projects both at work and at home will help you spread out any increase in responsibilities that may occur around the holidays and will free you up to focus on the things that matter.

7. Notify clients or set an out of office reply. Decide how you will deal with work responsibilities before you go and make it known by setting an auto reply or notifying important clients in advance.

8. Tie up loose ends. Making sure that the bills are paid, the mail is on hold and the rent check is sent means you can relax and know that things are taken care of.

9. Plan in a little downtime. While it can be tempting to plan out every waking moment while traveling, overdoing it on your trip coupled with jet lag is a recipe for serious exhaustion.

10. Unpack, unwind and express you appreciation. Don't procrastinate unpacking and doing the laundry when you get home; taking a little time to get settled in will make unwinding after your trip much easier. Finally, don't forget to follow up and express you appreciation to your loved ones and hosts.

(Image credits: Lizzie Ford)

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