’Tis the season! The holiday period brings us so much joy and excitement but also a ton of movement and travel during the craziest time of the year. This can leave even the most chilled out of us, a stressed-out, frantic mess!
To help ease your Christmas travel stress, we have compiled a list of 15 sanity-saving tips to get you to your destinations over the holiday with ease and grace.
Whether you are travelling home to visit family or travelling to a faraway destination for a vacation, these tips apply to you!
Navigate travelling over the hectic holiday period while staying balanced and mindful this year.
1. Plan, plan plan
To those of us who love to wing it and book things last minute, this will NOT be music to your ears. However, over the holidays this is ESSENTIAL to getting to where you need to be. This is especially true if you are planning to travel to a part of the world that celebrates Christmas.
Book your flights and accommodation as far in advance as you can and come up with a backup plan in case your plan ends up falling apart.
It’s also a good idea to plan all your logistics like what clothing you’ll need for the weather, gifts you need to prepare, what services are and aren’t operating at that time of year and transfers to your accommodation.
2. Pack Your Patience
Remember, you're not the only one on the move during the holiday season. Long lines, delayed flights, traffic, road closures in winter places, and crowded terminals are all part of the Christmas travel frenzy that you signed up for. Arm yourself with patience and a positive attitude to navigate these common Christmas travel hurdles gracefully.
3. Embrace the Power of Technology
Smartphones can truly be lifesavers when it comes to travelling during the holiday period. They can help you navigate with ease, check in to flights, order taxis, get live flight/transport updates and help you make plans and rearrangements on the go if needed (maybe even do some quick last-minute online Christmas gift shopping!). All you need is a wifi connection and a phone and you are on your way to a smoother ride.
4. Choose Off-Peak Travel Times
If you can, opt for travel times and days that are unpopular. Super early morning or late at night? Take it! Can you travel on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve/Day? If so, do it! This will save you some pennies and a lot of stress at the airport/train/bus station.
If you choose travel times the day before and after the actual holiday itself, be prepared for madness. There will be even more madness if there are delays, overbooked flights and cancellations, which is not the best way to stay sane.
5. Pack Snacks and Stay Hydrated
When travelling during the holidays, go back to your health basics by making sure you are hydrated and nourished. Also, make sure you get a good night's sleep and have some relaxation time before you start your journey to ensure you have optimum energy levels to make it through.
If you come to the airport empty-handed you will be left having to wait in long lines for overpriced, unhealthy (and not very good) snacks and drinks. Being nourished, rested and hydrated is the best way to keep your stress levels and your mood in check as you travel.
Great healthy snacks for travel include raw nuts and seeds, dried fruit and dark chocolate. Consider packing a lunch like a sandwich if you want to avoid expensive, less-than-healthy airport or roadside food options.
6. Create a Comfort Zone
Whether you're flying, driving, or taking a train, make your travel space as comfortable as possible. Bring a neck pillow and a cosy blanket. Download your favourite podcasts, audiobooks, kindle books and Netflix shows. This will help you feel more relaxed, comfortable and at ease as you go through a hectic travel period. Don’t forget to charge all your devices in advance and bring a portable charger so that your batteries don’t die, even on the longest of journeys.
7. Regulate your nervous system with Mindfulness and Relaxation Technique
Amid holiday chaos, take a moment for yourself. Practice deep belly breathing, and download some relaxing guided meditations or yoga nidras on Spotify to stay centred and calm. Simply following your breath in and out of your nose can make a huge difference to your sanity levels, especially when something goes wrong. Nadi Shodana or alternative nostril breathing is another helpful breathing exercise to regulate the nervous system when stress creeps in.
Find more nervous system regulation tips here.
8. Move Your Body
Keeping your body moving and stretched before, during and after travel can help stabilise your mood, calm your nervous system down and keep your body feeling great.
Take short walks, do simple stretches or yoga, and have a dance! Whatever physical activity you can do within the confines you are faced with will make a huge difference to your sanity levels.
9. Embrace Technology to Stay Connected
It is impossible to be in multiple places at once! Many of us have different groups of friends and family that we would all love to see over the holiday period. However, travelling to see all of them may not only be impossible but extremely expensive and exhausting.
Combat this by using technology to stay connected and see them over the holidays even if it is virtually. You could come up with a plan to see different people on alternating years… or you could escape family obligations altogether and catch a flight to Thailand and opt for a full virtual Christmas with loved ones at home. You do you!
10. Stay Connected but Set Boundaries
While it's essential to stay connected with loved ones, set boundaries to ensure your own well-being. Carve out designated times for calls or messages, allowing yourself to fully engage in the present moment during the rest of your journey.
Remember, you don’t have to say yes to every invitation and you don’t need to bend over backwards to see everyone you love over the holidays.
11. Pack Smart and Light
Packing can be a huge stress when travelling over the holidays. Especially if you have to take gifts and winter clothes. Make a packing list of essentials, pack what you need and consider what you can buy once you arrive. If possible travel only with a carry-on to avoid dramas if your bag gets lost in the madness.
12. Schedule “Me” Time
If you are travelling over the holidays to go home or to see friends and family, make sure you schedule in time for yourself to maintain your sanity. Prioritise your well-being and remember families can bring out the worst in us so get some alone time and don’t forget about the mindfulness techniques mentioned above.
13. Limit Your Alcohol & stick to a mainly healthy diet
Indulging in excessive alcohol and rich food is a hallmark of the holidays, however, it can seriously impinge on your mental and physical health. Your sanity comes first, so employ some good old willpower and try to not go too overboard when it comes to alcohol and unhealthy food.
Travelling with a food and alcohol hangover is one surefire way to lose your sanity.
Moderation and balance are key here!
14. Celebrate the Season on the Road
Boost your mood while you are traversing the globe at a crazy time by bringing the festive spirit with you. Wear a Santa hat, put on your Christmas earrings, put a decoration on your backpack, listen to your favourite Christmas tunes and download your most beloved Christmas films.
Brighten up your mood and remind all of the other stressed travellers around you that even though travelling can be frantic over the holidays, it is still the most wonderful time of year!
15. Maintain a Sense of Humour & stay positive
Remember to laugh and keep it light! Mishaps and unexpected twists are part of the adventure. Approach challenges with a sense of humour and curiosity! Go with the flow and keep your attitude as bright as the Christmas lights. Stress less over minor (or major) inconveniences and remember the end goal - to enjoy Christmas. You'll find that even the most trying situations can become amusing anecdotes in your travel story.
BONUS Tips on travelling to a destination (as opposed to visiting family) over the holidays
1. Choose your destination wisely
Opt for places that aren’t popular over the holidays (although we recommend going to some iconic destinations for Christmas at least once in your life like New York, Germany & London!!).
You can opt for destinations that are off the beaten path and don’t celebrate Christmas like Asia and the Middle East.
2. Travel on Christmas Day
As we mentioned above, travelling during unpopular times is the best way to avoid stress and save money. If you’re escaping to a far-off destination then we assume travelling on Christmas day isn’t going to be an issue!
3. Choose alternate airports
if you are travelling somewhere with multiple airports, see if you can fly into an alternate one that is a bit further away. You may find it is less expensive and less hectic.
4. Avoid connections
This will reduce your chance of drama by potentially missing connections due to delays and cancellations, which are very likely over the holidays.
5. Travel by bus if you can
Many places around the world have bus routes as alternatives to flying. Yes, the bus journey might be longer but bus journeys are simple, straightforward and rarely cancelled or delayed. This is an affordable, less stressful way to get around during the holidays.
6. Check opening hours and closures
If the destination you chose celebrates Christmas, double-check the local laws on businesses being open on the holidays. These differ vastly depending on the country so make sure you check so you don’t get caught out!
As you embark on your holiday travels, armed with these 15 sanity-saving tips, remember that the journey is as much a part of the adventure as the destination. Stay calm, stay jolly, and may your Christmas travels be filled with joy and wonderful memories! Safe travels!