The holidays can be stressful even without having to travel. Traveling around holiday time can amp up your stress levels, especially if you’ve got a family of your own. Manage your holiday stress by planning ahead and getting things taken care of well in advance before you leave. Do what you can to make your travels pleasant and safe. When traveling with kids, take special considerations for their needs. While the holidays may be stressful, do what you can to lower that stress as much as possible.
Write lists. You might think, “There’s no way I’ll forget that!” and yet, under stress, you may forget even the most basic things. Write a list of what needs to be bought, packed, accomplished, and arranged before you leave. Start well in advance so you don’t get stuck doing loads of laundry the day you leave.
Let someone else look over the list to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.
Put reminders where you need them. For example, write a list of bathroom items you need and put it on your bathroom mirror so that you can collect all of the items at once.
Put sticky notes onto necessary items you need to bring or put a list of things you need on the door.
Make arrangements ahead of time. If you need to find a pet sitter, do this well before you leave on your trip. If you are running out of your prescription medication, get a refill prior to leaving. Take stock of any arrangements that must be made before you leave for your trip and take care of them before you go. It’s best to take care of any details before traveling so you don’t have to think about them while you are away.
Pay your bills and run any errands that are vital before leaving.
Organize your things. You might be packing your stuff, your children’s things, and gifts for other people. Staying on top of that many things can be difficult, so use a bit of organization. Pack your suitcase with clothes ahead of time and make sure everything fits well. Chose simple, lightweight clothing and fold your clothes in a way that saves space in your suitcase. Decide whether to wrap the presents before or after traveling.
If you’re traveling in a car, consider having a bag within reach with certain items you may want or need on your journey.
For heavy or bulky items, such as shoes or coats, choose one to take. Make sure the rest of your clothing matches this one item.
Plan for likely hazards. If you’re on a schedule (like catching a bus, train, or airplane), plan for potential hazards to getting there. Plan ahead for traffic, running late, or toddler tantrums. Especially if you are traveling with children, prepare for any emergencies by having snacks, a change of clothes, and any other necessary items that might come in handy while traveling.
Whether you’re on an airplane or in a car, have snacks for any passengers that may get grumpy without food. Avoid sweets, as blood sugar spikes and crashes can make people grumpy.
Bring clothing for various temperatures, and plan to layer. Even if it might be hot at your destination, bring a sweater in case there is air conditioning or a cold breeze.
Choose flights (or airlines) with minimal delays. If you’re traveling around holiday time, opt for airlines that aren’t known for lengthy delays or canceled flights. If you find a flight with a very short layover, opt for a longer layover (or pay a bit extra for a direct flight) in order to avoid the hassle of potentially missing a flight.
Consider purchasing flights that depart early in the day. Airports tend to be less crowded and if you need to make changes, it may be easier to get a different flight.
[Edit]Getting Through Your Travels
Keep essential items nearby. Whether you flying or driving, have your necessary things close to you. Keep your medical prescriptions and necessary toiletry items in your carry-on bag. Bring an extra change of clothes in case your baggage gets lost. If traveling by car, have a specific bag set aside for overnight essentials. Keep blankets and pillows nearby to keep your journey more comfortable.
If traveling with kids, pack toys and items to keep them entertained and busy.
Prepare your car. If you’re driving a long distance, make sure your car is ready for the journey. Get an inspection by a mechanic you trust and get an oil change. Make sure your tire tread is good and that your car is in good overall condition. If you anticipate bad weather, prepare for these conditions by ensuring the safety of your car.
Get new headlights, fog lights, windshield wipers, or snow tires.
Have something to look forward to. If you tend to dread traveling, pack a special treat for you to enjoy. For example, splurge on a special snack to eat or a book to read. Find an audiobook that appeals to you and save it for your travels.
Having something to look forward to can make your travels feel less like a hassle.
Be lighthearted. You’ll likely come into at least one travel snag. Instead of getting upset or bent out of shape, keep your sense of humor and go with the flow. Be flexible and recognize that not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes disasters happen and you need to be willing to change your plans. If this happens, maintain your sense of humor and find a way to approach it without getting upset.
If you find yourself becoming stressed or panicked, find a quiet place to be by yourself for a few minutes. This might be a bathroom or the courtyard of your hotel. Take deep breaths, and relax your muscles to prevent yourself from becoming upset.
Practice relaxation. If you’re feeling overly stressed, find a healthy outlet for stress, such as relaxation. Find things that help to relax you, such as listening to music, writing, or reading. Use relaxation before you take off and during your trip. If you need some alone time, let others know that you need a quick break and will be back.
Find ways that help you feel calm. This could be calling a friend, taking a bath, writing in a journal, or going for a walk.
Avoid taking out your stress through drugs, alcohol, or other destructive means. Instead, find healthy and constructive ways to cope. For more information, check out How to Deal With Stress.
[Edit]Traveling with Kids
Give kids plenty of warning. If you’re going to visit family, let your kids know ahead of time. If your child fears change or has a difficult time adjusting to new people or places, give them plenty of time to prepare for the trip. Talk about who you will be seeing, what you’ll be doing, and what activities you can look forward to on your trip.
Make a travel book for your child, letting them see pictures of who they are visiting and what activities they will be doing. Provide some blank pages for your child to use to draw or color. This can help build positive anticipation instead of worried or nervous dread.
If flying, let your kids know that you will go through security. Let children over the age of 12 know they will need to take their jackets and shoes off. Children under 12 can leave on light jackets, head coverings, and shoes.
You can even make a game of practicing going through security, complete with pretend “tickets” and suitcases.
Rehearse what children should do if you are separated. You should prepare your child so that they know how to find help if you are separated during your vacation. Roleplay these situations before you leave so that they know how to act.Teach them your phone number, and practice dialing it with them. Also teach them how to dial 911 or how to reach emergency services in the country you are visiting.
Teach them how to recognize police officers. If you are going to a foreign country, make sure you look up what police wear in that country.
Give them a piece of paper with your hotel and contact information on it. They can give it to a police officer or official trying to help.
Take advantage of early boarding. If flying, ask about family boarding. Many airlines allow families with young children or multiple kids to board earlier than other passengers. This can help you get you and your family situated without dealing with the crowds of people on the plane. Use the extra time to get your children sitting and occupied. Get out your toy bag and snack bag and stow the rest of your bags.
Take out some gum, and give it to them to chew during take-off and landing. This will prevent their ears from popping. If you have a baby, a bottle will do the same trick.
Coach kids on acceptable behavior. If children are attending an event or visiting family, let them know what behavior is expected of them. Even as you travel, be clear in how you want the kids to behave. For example, say, “We use our inside voices when inside a hotel because we need to respect other people’s vacations, too.” If you’re flying, say, “You might get bored or nervous when you’re on the airplane. If you feel this way, let me know. It’s not okay to whine or scream inside an airplane.”
Let children know what kind of behavior is expected before you leave on your trip. If necessary, remind them of your expectations. Say, “Remember we talked about excusing yourself from the dinner table.”
Give kids a job. Giving your child a “job” while on vacation can help them feel involved and invested in your plans. These jobs should be simple and fun for the child. Some things they can do include:
Take pictures on a disposable camera.
Pick out postcards and gifts for family members.
Carry the map or guidebook.
Choose what to do on a certain day.
Set aside time before and after your travels. If you feel rushed before heading out, plan to take some time off work so you can properly prepare for your travels. Consider working a half day and using the time to run errands, pack, and feel ready before you head off. Getting everything prepared and ready can help reduce stress and make you feel more calm, which feels much better than running around trying to get things done. Especially with kids, you might want some time to decompress.
Consider having a day to yourself (or at least without any plans) after your travels to help you recuperate and get back into the swing of things.This will also let kids rest up before they have to return to school.[Edit]Related wikiHows
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