I’ve had anxiety issues for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it’s manageable, sometimes it becomes so overwhelming I can hardly catch my breath. If there’s one thing that stresses me out the most, it’s traveling. And holiday travel? Yikes. Stress-o-rama.
Traveling can be a huge, stressful ordeal, especially if you have children with you. And if you happen to be traveling for the holidays, you have the added pressures of cooking, cleaning, and shopping, not to mention the business and professional responsibilities you have on your plate to fulfill before the end of the year — it’s no wonder so many people battle anxiety during this time of year!
The good news is that there are several things you can do to ease the stress of traveling. The key is to plan ahead as much as possible and, of course, try to stay patient. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but with a little organization, you can get to your destination with as little fuss as possible.
Here are a few of the best ways to do just that:
Let technology help you
These days, there’s an app for just about everything, so use it to your advantage and check out the best one for your needs. Whether that’s finding a way through bumper-to-bumper traffic, receiving weather alerts about pending storms, or getting updates on flight delays, there’s something for everyone.
As a frequent traveler, my favorite technological advancement of the last decade is the option of an electronic boarding pass. No need to visit the ticket counter or deal with the hassles of home printing, now most airlines will let you send your boarding pass directly to your smartphone at no extra charge. Eliminating the stress of losing your ticket is always a win!
If you’re flying with children, make sure to pack plenty of snacks and entertainment (okay fine, grown ups need snacks and entertainment too). Also, don’t forget about having everyone wear comfortable, slip-on shoes so security checks will go smoothly and quickly. If you’re flying someplace warm (lucky you!), leave the heavy coats at home so you don’t have to lug them onto the plane; a smaller fleece jacket will do just fine and can be tied around the waist when not in use. If your trip will be a short one, pack as lightly as possible–you might even try to get away with only using a carry-on–so there will be no hold-ups at baggage claim.
Driving? Do some research first
I offer this tip as someone who has gotten lost in a new city too many times to count. Depending on your phone or mobile GPS alone just isn’t worth it, especially if you’ll also be battling sight-limiting weather conditions like blizzards or even rain if you’re going somewhere tropical. Limiting your anxiety on the road isn’t just about peace of mind, it’s about the safety of you and your family.
Long car trips can take a toll on anyone, so make sure you have a driving partner to keep you from getting overtired. If there are kids along for the ride, bring plenty of snacks and water and give everyone their own small bag filled with things they can use to entertain themselves. It’s also important to do some research before you leave to check out the best route. Sometimes, there will be an alternate way to get to your destination that takes a bit longer but is chock full of fun activities and sights. Choosing this path will help keep everyone from getting bored and will allow you to get out and stretch your legs a little.
Find a way to relax
Relaxing isn’t always easy when you’re in a crowded airport or a car full of tired travelers, so you’ll have to find ways to make it happen. Bring earplugs or headphones for each member of the family so you can tune out the noise of overcrowded spaces and use flight time to lean back and meditate. Promise yourself a nice long, hot shower when you arrive at your destination so you have something to look forward to. And resist the urge to check email or check in with your staff unless there’s a major emergency. Chances are, they won’t need you unless they think you’re readily available, but you have every right to take some time off with your family to enjoy the trip!
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Traveling can be tiresome, but with a little planning and these tips, you can get through it with no problem!