How to Travel Stress-Free During the Holidays

The holidays can be stressful, and we're not just talking about bulging waistlines, obnoxious uncles, and your sister's 10 kids. Getting to and from your home to celebrate with the family can be the biggest stress of them all. Here are our tips for navigating holiday-travel with ease.
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Whoever said “getting there is half the fun” was deeply wrong… or they have never traveled during the holidays. Although nothing can totally eliminate holiday-travel stress, we do have a few tips on how to significantly reduce it for a healthy holiday season. First: Remember to breathe. Even in stressful situations, deep belly breaths can calm you down and lessen stress and anxiety. From there, we’ve compiled a few more tips that should get you started on a stress-free holiday season.

If traveling by car
Get on the road before or after the crowds. For Christmas, be on the road by Friday, December 21, or Saturday, December 22. Return on Thursday, December 27. Avoid the roads at night on New Year’s Eve and early New Year’s Day. If you live in an urban area, head out early to beat the traffic out of your city. A week before the big drive, completely check your car, including its coolant levels, battery power, windshield-wiper blades, and tires. Don’t wait until the morning of to get prepared. Pack jumper cables, an ice scraper, and, if needed, snow chains. Plan rest stops ahead of your trip and stop at least every 1.5 to two hours, especially if you're traveling with kids. Stretching and walking during rest stops, and keeping the driving down to eight hours a day or less, will go a long way toward a stress-free and healthy holiday.

If traveling by air
Before booking your flight, consider using smaller airports, which will allow easier parking, shorter security lines, less-crowded conditions, and fewer delayed flights. If possible, avoid the massive airport hubs of New York's JFK and Chicago's O’Hare, which get notoriously bogged down with traffic and white-Christmas weather. Book as early as you can. Not only will you stand a fighting chance of getting the flights you want, but your family will also have a better chance of sitting together. Now that some airlines are charging for seat selection, passengers have grown more hesitant to give up their seats to a family since they paid extra for them.

Consider flying on the holiday itself (Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve) if you can sacrifice the time. This tactic can save you money, and the airports will be much less crowded. And know what additional fees the airlines may charge you at the airport (children flying alone, baggage fees, carry-on fees, seat selection fees, etc.) so you won’t be broadsided.

Published: 10 Dec 2012 | Last Updated: 21 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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