Be Prepared: Stress Reducing Tips for Surviving Your Holiday Travels

published Nov 18, 2016
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(Image credit: Leszek Czerwonka)

When Andy Williams (and every other singer who’s ever released a cover of the song) sang “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” he obviously wasn’t thinking about the whole holiday travel thing. Whether you’re flying, driving, or taking a train or a bus, there’s no getting around the fact that sometimes traveling during the holidays just, well… sucks. There’s traffic, delays, bad weather, long lines and busy airports to deal with, and the whole process can be exhausting. The good news: A little preparation can go a long way.

Don’t pack gifts—ship them

Traveling is already stressful, but traveling with tons of luggage? Even worse. Since the holidays also mean exchanging gifts with friends and family, save yourself tons of suitcase space by wrapping and shipping gifts home ahead of time, so you don’t have to physically bring them home with you on a train or a plane. The same goes for when you return from the holidays—ship any gifts you receive back so you don’t have to lug anything extra on the way home, either.

Give yourself more than enough time to get there

During the holidays, traffic is worse, train stations are busy and airport security is tighter. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to where you’re going—leave earlier than you normally would to catch a flight, get to train and bus stations with plenty of time to spare just in case, and factor in extra driving time. If you leave extra early, you don’t have to stress as much over getting places on time, and you’ll feel so much better when you’re not rushing to get through airport security.

Wear what makes you feel your best

Think about the worst case scenario—if you’re flying and your flight gets delayed indefinitely, what would you want to be wearing? Of course, you want to look your best, but you also want to feel comfortable in case you wind up sitting waiting on the plane or in the airport all night. Same goes for train rides and long car or bus rides—you never know when you’ll get stuck waiting for a while, and you’ll want to feel your best.

Bring a portable phone charger

No matter how you travel, make sure you have a portable battery and phone charger with you, and make sure it’s fully charged before you go. In case of delays, you’ll be glad to be able to charge your phone without fruitlessly looking for an outlet so you can phone home (or check Twitter) while you’re waiting.

Pack (TSA approved!) snacks

Again, you never know how long your trip will really take you, so be prepared by packing snacks. They should be foods that don’t need to be refrigerated and won’t spill or spoil, and if you’re flying, make sure you double check that they’re not on the TSA’s list of banned items, otherwise they’ll get tossed out before you board. If you’re worried about packing food for a flight, you can also buy snacks after you get through security, but they’ll likely be more expensive.

Bring more than just a book

If you do get stuck and stranded for a while—or if you just can’t fall asleep on the flight or the ride there—you’ll regret not having plenty of entertainment. A book or a few magazines are a great start, but they may not last you as long as you think. Make sure you have a few things to do (that are also easy to pack) and maybe even a playlist that will keep your spirits up the whole way.

Keep your medicine in your carry-on

Whether you take any prescriptions or you just have a tendency to get headaches or allergy flare-ups, make sure you pack any medicine you might need in your carry on bag. If you pack it in a suitcase, you may lose it or not have access to it for a long period of time when you need it, so keep your prescriptions with you and stock up on any over the counter medicine you might need, too.