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Holiday travel can be stressful. Between unprecedented travel numbers, unpredictable weather, and family pressure and stress, holiday travel can be anything but relaxing. But it doesn’t have to be. With the tips below, you can take the edge off the pressure and have a stress free holiday.
1. Choose to travel on a low volume travel day
Did you know that the highest volume travel days are the weekend before Christmas and the day before Thanksgiving? It’s best to avoid those days if possible. If you’re not celebrating Christmas (or don’t mind traveling on the day), I find December 25 is usually a particularly peaceful day to travel and everyone is in a cheery mood!
If you can, choose to travel a few days earlier or later for the holiday. That means leaving the Wednesday before Christmas, or on Christmas Eve. These days provide not only best value but the least stress in the airports or on the roads.
2. Travel early in the morning or late at night
If you have to travel on a high volume day, consider taking an early morning flight. Most travelers choose mid-day flights or have connections, so an early morning flight is your best bet to avoid the crowds and get to your destination comfortably. It also means that if there are weather delays, you will have priority to get out on the first available flight.
3. Spend the night near the airport
Of course, if you’re taking a very early morning flight you will want to stay close to the airport so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night. Budget a hotel into your trip for the first night, or use credit card points to book a free night.
By forcing yourself to leave home the day before, you wrap up all the frantic packing and get to start your vacation a day earlier. It also takes the stress out of getting to your flight on time, which is a big plus, especially with holiday traffic and weather.
4. Pack 3 days in advance
I started doing this some time back, and it has now become a regular habit because of how much stress it takes out of packing. Three days before the trip, lie out all the clothes and other items you want to bring on your bed by categories. Then pack them, still by categories, into your suitcase.
Afterwards, you have two days to remove all the items you don’t really need and add the ones you do need that you forgot. This two day mental grace period takes the pressure out of packing and gives you the flexibility to ensure you take just what you need.
5. Enlist the kids’ help
If you have children home for school holidays, enlist them to help wrapping presents for your spouse or their sibilngs, baking holiday cookies, or helping organize the suitcases.
If you make it seem fun, kids will see it as a special holiday activity. It helps that they are often already in a good mood (or overexcited) about the holidays. You can call them your secret holiday helper and let them in on a couple of the holiday surprises you have in store for someone else.
6. Supplements to support your health and reduce stress
With the business of the holidays and the cold weather, you can also add supplements to your diet to help manage stress. I like to take magnesium and vitamin C. Most people are low in magnesium, an essential mineral helpful not only for maintaining bone health but also for managing stress. Supplement some magnesium and feel your nerves calm.
Vitamin C is also very helpful for managing stress as well as for boosting immunity. This double impact of immune support and stress-ease makes it a regular in my holiday de-stressing toolbox.
7. Essential oils to support reduce stress
You can also use essential oils to calm frazzled nerves. Lavender and Spikenard are my top two choices. Lavender smells wonderful and can diffused throughout the house or mixed with a carrier oil and rubbed on the skin.
You can also put a few drops of either essential oil in some warm bath water. Spikenard is a nerve tonic and is especially good to help get a good night’s sleep. You can mix some with a carrier oil and rub on your skin, or put a few drops on a tissue and place it on your pillow. These two oils are also very good for calming overexcited children.
8. Use amazon.com to send packages ahead of time
If you will be celebrating the holidays away from home, or just want to get through your “to do” list faster, consider shopping on amazon.com and shipping all your gifts directly to friends and family. With such an extensive range of offerings, need I say more about the value of shopping with amazon.com?
9. Make a soothing holiday ritual
Who says holiday traditions have to add to the stress? Create a new family tradition like sipping hot tea around the kitchen counter or by the fire. Use the time to say one moment you’re each grateful for, or what holiday spirit you saw that day. These calming minutes can help soothe frazzled nerves from the day and allow you to connect.
To add to the soothing ritual, try calming herbal teas such as sleepy time, peppermint, licorice, or herbal chai.
Take it one day at a time
Remember that you don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. And that the holidays are perfect because of the small moments of love and togetherness, not the perfection of the place settings or the gift wrapping.
By taking the time for yourself – allowing yourself the grace – and using the tips here, you will sail through this holidays season and enjoy even more with family and friends.