Whether you’re going home for the holidays or to a beach far away from the cold, I would recommend the later, traveling can be stressful during “the most wonderful time of year.” No matter if you’re trying to escape the chill or visit family, when everybody else is also traveling, getting stuck in the traffic jam isn’t fun.
If only we could make Christmas in July be our current weather reality. The Aussie’s have it good- no winter flurries and weather storm delays, plus Christmas in the summer time, but alas we are here, where it’s as cold as your ex’s heart.
Here are 10 tips for traveling like a boss without losing your cool, because we only have so much patience when the Starbucks line is 40 minutes long, there are screaming children everywhere and the only food option around is McDonalds.
1. Bring headphones
We are all as calm as Buddha until we hear that first baby begin to scream and suddenly it seems like there are ten other crying kids. Make like Bubble Boy and retreat into your favorite playlist or podcast. Download your playlists and movies ahead of time in case the seemingly four million people around you on the wifi make it impossible to access your content online. Nothing is more infuriating than having planned ahead and having something as minimal as wifi access ruin your musical oasis.
2. Leave early
We all like to think that we’ll get there in the nick of time, but that is rarely the case during the holidays. Anticipate delays and traffic so you’re not left sitting on I10 ready to pull your hair out because you’re going to miss your flight or exit. Plan for the worst and at the best you’ll have a little extra time when you get there to wait in the coffee line that is presumably going to be wrapped around the corner.
3. Stash healthy snacks in your carry on
Airport food and road trip restaurants alike tend to provide an array of sodium filled, overpriced options that leave diners dissatisfied or feeling less than great. The best way to combat becoming hangry (here’s urban dictionary if you have no idea what that means) is to bring your own snacks for when desperation meets hanger. Don’t be that person, Snicker’s commercial style, that becomes a jerk when they’re hungry. Holiday travel is stressful for all and nobody needs to deal with your hungry, non-caffeinated mood swings.
4. Buy a portable charger
For when you get stuck in a six hour layover due to an unexpected snow storm, have all of your chargers at the ready. Bonus points if you have a portable charger, because everyone in your terminal will also be scrambling to get to the chargers and open outlets. This is especially the case for road trips! If you run out of things to talk about eight hours into your 14 hour drive, having your phone charged up will allow you ample time to troll social media or avoid topics with your fellow riders that you’d rather avoid.
5. Take advantage of online shortcuts
Most airlines have online sites or apps to download your boarding pass prior to arriving at the airport, so take advantage! There is no reason to wait in line just to have someone do something you could have done yourself in half the time. There are also expedited options for getting fast tracked including TSA Precheck and Global Entry for fliers, or road apps like Waze which avoid traffic for drivers.
6. Layer to stay warm
Even if you’re that person that thinks 50 degrees is warm, traveling is the perfect storm for being stressed, exhausted, hungry and cold all day long. Layering is the best way to ensure that no matter the chilly temperature of your terminal or car, that you will be comfortable. Rather than bringing your thickest coat that can be bulky and heavy to carry around, go for slightly thinner layers like sweaters and scarves that you can easily take off and put in your bag after you sprint to your gate to make it to your flight on time.
7. Start packing in advance
Starting the packing process days before your trip will help ensure that you aren’t already in transit when you remember that your winter coat is still sitting in your closet at home, right next to your sister’s Christmas present. Avoid the packing panic by making a list and tossing a few items in your suitcase each day. This will also help to prevent getting to the night before and realizing you still haven’t washed the jeans you need for your trip, so now you have to stay up an extra two hours to do so.
8. Pack smarter
Whether we admit it or not, we all have a small tendency of overpacking. Do you really need to bring that sweater in both red and black? Consider items that serve multiple functions or clothing that can be paired to make several different outfits. This way you can save enough space for all of the Christmas presents you’re inevitably going to be stuffing in your suitcase along with your winter outerwear. Shipping gifts or ordering their delivery to your destination rather than your home is also a efficient suitcase space saver. Plus it’s a great way to prevent opening your suitcase to damaged gifts upon arrival.
9. Stay in the know
Use your smart phone, because everyone today owns one, to get alerts about traffic, delays, cancelled flights and more. Apps and websites such as Google maps, airline apps like Southwest, and Weather Channel alerts will help keep you informed, calm and collected. Knowing what is happening as it is occurring immediately negates extra unnecessary stress. Sometimes things go awry that we cannot prevent, but dealing with information that your flight was delayed for two hours due to a snow storm can prevent you from rushing to the airport just to sit there and wait.
Keep your destination in mind when you’re traveling during “the most wonderful time of year.” Traveling during the holidays has a way of making us forget that this time of year is supposed to be wonderful; it can be stressful, especially when factors out of your control come into play. Focus on where you’re going and the people you’re soon going to be spending time with. After all, your travel day will soon be over and before long you’ll be celebrating at your destination.
Happy holidays and safe travels!