Tips for stress-free travel

The holiday season can be stressful enough without adding travel troubles to the mix. Below are some ways to ensure you arrive safely and happily at your Christmas holiday destination.

1) Be an early bird
Maybe you love the spontaneity of a last-minute trip. Who doesn’t? But save it for another time of year. When everyone is jetting off to their favourite holiday destination or driving home for Christmas, the early bird gets the hassle-free holiday.

2) Pack once, pack well
Follow Santa’s lead and make a list and check it twice. No-one likes the feeling of arriving at their destination and discovering they’ve left their swimming costume or their phone charger at home. Grrrr. Group things together (e.g. toiletries, shirts, shoes) so it’s easy to locate things.

3) Travel with carry-on only
If possible, take carry-on bags only when flying. It not only chops out waiting times at the luggage carousel, but you get to the head of the taxi queue quicker. Plus, there’s no chance of luggage taking an unplanned detour enroute. Of course, if you are checking in luggage, take some basic toiletries and underwear in your carry-on in case your bags go missing.

4) Be prepared for hiccups
Stress levels rise when the unexpected goes down. Realise that traffic jams happen, flights get delayed or cancelled and weather can create havoc. When we’re prepared for the unexpected, we’re able to weather the storms in a better frame of mind. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport or reach your destination. That way if the unexpected happens, you’re not stressing about missing a flight or Christmas dinner.

5) Snack wisely
Hitting the bar in the airport or munching on cakes and lollies on a road trip can make us feel worse-for-wear when we arrive. So, pack feel-good snacks such as protein or muesli bars, nuts, fruit, and plenty of water and resist the kids’ pleas to stop for junk food.

6) Take breaks
Plan to enjoy the journey. Walk along the main street of a town or a beautiful beach rather than sitting in a petrol station café when you take a break from driving. See if you can discover something new along the way. Airport delays could be a chance to call a few friends and wish them Merry Christmas or read that book you’ve been meaning to start all year.

7) Breathe
If you feel the irritation rising or panic setting in, take a few deep breaths. It helps to reset your nervous system so you can carry on from a place of calm.

8) Build a buffer
Consider taking out travel insurance or having some extra dollars in the kitty can prevent financial stress from compounding travel stress.

9) Rest up
If you’re crossing time zones, prepare for the time in your destination. Either stay awake longer or bring music or meditations to lull you to sleep earlier. And if you have a long drive ahead, rest well beforehand.

10) Remember others
Collective stress can impact us too. Take steps to lower the stress levels of those around you by being kind to strangers and expressing appreciation to loved ones.

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