Survival Guide: Stress-Free Holiday Travel
When it comes to holiday travel, Santa’s got it in the bag. The magic sleigh, flying reindeer—he never has to worry about traffic jams, crowded buses, or flight delays. For us mortals, getting to our holiday destination is almost as stressful as the actual festivities themselves. Before you cancel your travel plans in frustration, here are slice.ca’s tips for stress-free holiday travel.
Travelling by car during the holidays has many advantages. You won’t have to deal with screaming babies or an armrest hog. But with all the pressure to arrive safely and on time squarely on your shoulders, your blood pressure can skyrocket. Fortunately, a little planning makes it easy to kick stress to the curb.
First, review your route. Do you have the best directions? Try an online Google map search to discover a faster way. Next, choose your departure time. Avoiding rush hour and leaving at off-peak times—at dawn or after 8pm—will result in less road congestion and fewer hours stuck in the car. Load your MP3 player full of sing-a-long tunes and pack car-friendly snacks for hungry moments mid-drive. If your journey is over two hours, schedule rest stops into your itinerary to stretch your legs and have a bathroom break. You’ll feel more comfortable and more relaxed when you return to the wheel. And don’t forget to keep your car happy, too. Fill the gas tank and top up the windshield wiper fluid. Winter driving can be unpredictable. Planning your route, itinerary, in-car entertainment, and vehicle maintenance will keep your nerves settled and your expedition on track. St. Nick had it right all along: Making a list, checking it twice results in a jolly holiday traveller.
By train or bus:
Jacked-up heating, talkative passengers, and limited wiggle room on a bus or train can turn the most angelic traveller into a Grinch. While public transit has its drawbacks, it’s actually a smart way to travel. It’s often cheaper, plus it’s less stressful having someone else doing the driving. But how can you take an irritating mode of travel and turn it into an enjoyable one?
To start, book your ticket early. It’s common for trains and buses to sell out around peak holidays. Purchasing your fare well in advance guarantees that you can secure your chosen date. On departure day, arrive at the bus depot or train station early for optimum seat selection. Latecomers risk getting stuck sitting backwards, near the bathroom or, worse, standing. Early travellers also stow their bags first. You won’t worry about your carefully wrapped presents getting jammed into an already over-stuffed luggage hold or overhead rack. With a prime seat and safely stowed gifts and belongings, you can relax and enjoy the view rushing by your window. Be sure to bring snacks and a cardigan or blanket in case of in-coach temperature fluctuations. Include your MP3 player, laptop, or e-book reader to keep you entertained. Best of all, these toys will cleverly inform your chatty seatmate that you’re not to be disturbed. Peace on earth, guaranteed.
Despite the high cost, flying during the holidays is often the first choice for many travellers. Arriving quickly at your destination is the number-one perk. Frequent flyers know how to keep stress out of their flight path. Now you can, too.
Before leaving home, pack responsibly. There’s nothing more stressful than having your case cracked open by security. Visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website to learn what’s allowed in your carry-on and checked luggage. For example, wrapped holiday gifts are a carry-on no-no. Play it safe. Wrap your presents at your destination and spare yourself the distress of watching security tear open your gifts. Allow plenty of time to navigate through check-in and security. Arriving two hours before takeoff for a domestic flight and three hours for an international trip is recommended. Better to have too much time at the airport than not enough. You’ll witness many people losing their holiday cheer as they stressfully rush to their gate. Take your time, be patient waiting in line and, remember, it’s the season of joy and goodwill to others.
By the time you’re on board, your festive joie de vivre should still be intact. Now make your seat your own personal travel haven. Fill up the seat pocket in front of you with magazines, a bottle of water, and treats. Not all airlines offer refreshments or entertainment. Taking your hunger and comfort into your own hands will make for a chilled-out flight. Tech gadgets serve as terrific time wasters on board, too. Indulge, relax, and your flight will fly by.
Written by: Jackie Middleton
For more, please check out Jackie’s blog at http://www.losethatgirl.com.