This blog post was updated on July 9, 2021.
No matter the holiday, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, the 4th of July or Labor Day, travel during these busy times of year can induce stress with every long airport security line, bad storm or missed connection. There are more crowds, more problems and more costs involved. By the time you sit down with friends and family for the actual holiday, you’ll probably be exhausted, and perhaps a little cranky! But don’t get flustered: here are 6 tips for stress-free travel during the holidays.
Be Sure Your Carry-On Luggage Will Fit on Board
With the added passengers and packed flights for holiday travel, more and more travelers are hoping to get their carry-on luggage in the overhead bins. This act alone can present one of the most stressful aspects to holiday travel. Some luggage manufacturers say their bags are carry-on size but they don’t always account for wheels and a handle or for when the bag is expanded. Before you’re clogging up the entire plane trying to wedge your bag into the bin space, be sure it’s the correct size before you leave for the airport. The right sized carry-on will also not create problems and additional stress when you try to board and the airline tells you that your bag is too large. If you’re worried about getting your bag on the flight, you can usually pay a little bit more for a seating group that’s called to board early.
Have Hand Sanitizer Readily Available
Cold and flu season gets into high gear over the winter holiday travel season. Airport crowds can give you an illness just in time to spread it to the whole family. Even traveling around warm weather holidays can leave you susceptible to picking up a bug. Many common surfaces crawl with germs and bacteria, like those airport security bins or the tray table in front of you on board. Stress is known to weaken the immune system, making for an even higher risk for getting sick. Travelers should make it a point to have hand sanitizer readily available so that you can fight germs you might pick up on your journey. If you do have to touch common surfaces, try to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
Leave a Day Early and Come Home a Day Late
Most travelers make their way to family and friends on peak travel days. You can eliminate a great deal of holiday travel stress by leaving a day earlier than the rush and coming home a day after everyone else does. Not only are these days generally more cost effective in terms of airline flights, but they also present fewer crowds that can exhaust and add tension to an already stressful time of year.
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It sounds relatively easy: the less you have to carry, the less stressed you’ll be. However, travelers don’t always listen to the pack light advice. You wouldn’t think that over-packing could be stressful but when you have more luggage to maneuver or you are forced to pay overweight baggage fees, you’ll quickly realize why packing light can be a godsend during the holiday travel season. You won’t have to worry about added costs and you’ll place less of a stress physically on your body by not lugging around too much weight.
Exercise and Meditate
If holiday travel tends to stress you out, you might want to turn to exercise and meditation before, during, and after your trip. Exercise and physical activity help produce endorphins that can reduce worries and stress in our lives. Before your trip, try exercising regularly. If you feel better physically before a big trip, taking on a long airport line or gridlock traffic won’t seem so daunting. While you’re at the airport, you can keep stress at bay by practicing deep breathing techniques or even meditation. Many apps now help you calm down and meditate even when you’re in the middle of a chaotic travel setting.
Arrive at the Airport Early
A lot of the stress around holiday travel revolves around time. You arrived at the airport too late and now you’ve missed your flight or you face an hour security line that could cause you to miss your flight. Most of these worries can be solved by merely giving yourself more time. Secure a reliable and prompt ride to the airport or plan to leave earlier than you would normally. Hit the road for travel by car before rush hour traffic or a storm on the horizon. The early bird gets the worm, right?
Got any other tips for stress-free travel during the holidays? Share them with us in the comments!