Some people have no choice but to brave the elements, and the airports and the roads and the trains, to make it home for the holidays.
If you do have to travel during the “season of crazies”, here are some tips to help you retain a little bit of your sanity ::
1 | Be strategic
Make your reservations well in advance and pick your flights carefully. If you have to connect, try to pick a connecting airport where the weather might cooperate a little better. So in the winter months choose a connection in Dallas or Atlanta over Chicago or Minneapolis, where snow or ice storms are more likely to cause delays.
Try to avoid any super tight connections. If you only have 45 minutes between flights, you could be in big trouble if your first flight is delayed a little. It’s much less stressful to find a nice bar or coffee shop to kill some extra time with a good book.
Because of the crowds this time of year, paying the fee for pre-assigned seating makes the investment worthwhile. Be sure to select your seat assignments at the same time you buy your ticket, if the airline’s policy allows.
2 | Pack Light
I always advocate packing light, but over the holidays lightness becomes is more critical. The less you have to worry about shlepping through the crowded airports, the better. Plus, you can save time, money and stress by fitting your things into an easy-to-maneuver carry-on bag.
If you must check luggage, be sure to keep the essentials like medications and important documents with you, just in case your luggage does not make it. With increased crowds and traffic comes increases in mishaps.
3 | Safeguard Your Health
Pack some healthy snacks so you will not have to rely on the kindness of strangers if you end up sitting on the tarmac for hours. Check out our Healthy Traveler Checklist for how to travel and maintain your best health through airports and train stations.
4 | Ship Gifts Ahead
If the TSA agents can not identify any gift in your carry-on luggage, your gifts will have to be unwrapped and inspected. Because of security, the TSA suggests travelers ship wrapped gifts to our destination. Or you wait until you reach your destination to wrap your presents. Plus, you don’t want to have to struggle with a heavy suitcase full of gifts through the airport if you have a tight connection.
Alternatively, gift cards are easy to pack and carry!
I have foreign friends who travel and visit family abroad whose check luggage is full of gift items that can only be bought in the USA, and even they don’t wrap them ahead of time.
5 | Plan ahead
I am one of those type of people who like to be at the airport with time to spare. And this tendency is more helpful and critical with the increased holiday crowds. So allow for traffic, parking, check-in and security delays.
6 | Be mindful and patient
Stoicism is the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. Travel can be challenging in the best of times and during the holidays the typical challenges are strained. The stoics recommend building resilience by rehearsing worst case scenarios. By expecting the worst, we can be pleasantly surprised with the worst does not happen. So whether you encounter the chatty neighbor on the airplane who takes your armrest, or endure the canceled or delayed flights and find that your luggage disappeared between airports – know these will all make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination.
Just breathe, keep your sense of humor and try to let the frustrations go. I love to listen to a guided meditation from Calm or Insight Timer to help me use my breath to shift my anxiety or anger.
Check out this video on stoicism from one of my favorite places in London, The School of Life ::
What are Some of your tips to travel elegantly and easily during the holiday season?