As much as we love celebrating with friends and family at festive gatherings, getting there often includes the chaos of crowded airports, long lines everywhere, traffic jams and plenty of not-so-jolly travelers. According to AAA, there will be over 115-million Americans traveling at least 50-miles from home between December 23rd and January 1st. And all those people can add to travel anxiety.
If you add in any weather delays, lost luggage, or germ-spreading passengers, your holiday travel plans may no longer seem worth it. While we can’t control all these things, we can do our best to manage our stress levels and these tips from experts can help you maintain your sanity during your holiday travels.
- Prepare what you can - This isn’t the time for procrastination, so plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute to pack. Keep your travel info accessible so you can find it on the go. Pack a book, download a podcast or music, or whatever helps you feel more calm while traveling.
- Adjust sleep if necessary - If you’re traveling across time zones, consider tweaking your sleep routine before you go to make sure you’re getting the rest you need, even when jet lagged.
- Stay connected with friends and family - If you start to feel overwhelmed or nervous about holiday travel, psychologist Julia Baird recommends reaching out to a loved one to distract you and help you feel connected. “Never underestimate the power of connection,” she says. “Though it’s not likely to have your therapist on speed dial over the holidays, friends can provide a sounding board and crucial words of support during times of holiday stress.”
- Practice on-the-go mindfulness - Calming your heart rate down can make a big difference when you’re in a high stress state. You can even meditate while traveling by keeping your eyes open and being aware of everything around you, taking note of all the things you see, smell and hear. And don’t forget to take deep breaths as you try to stay present and calm.
- Stay hydrated - It’s important to our physical and mental health all the time, especially while traveling.
- Stick to your routine, but be flexible - Making time for the habits that help you feel relaxed can help when you’re traveling and reach your destination. You may not be able to follow the exact same schedule, but that’s okay, just stay on track with your goals the best you can.