If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’ll be traveling this holiday season. According to Orbitz.com’s recent holiday survey, more than 70% of us will travel at least once between Thanksgiving and the New Year. And that means clogged roads and overly busy airports and train and bus stations. With all the hustle, bustle, and pressure of the holiday season, the last thing you need is more stress caused by holiday travel.
Here are some tips for de-stressing your travel this holiday season we gathered from folks who travel for a living.
Carry on. Packing lightly will make your holiday travel easier, faster and less expensive. When you carry on instead of checking baggage, you don’t have to wait for luggage at the baggage carousel or worry about your luggage getting lost.
Buy it, don’t pack it. You don’t have to carry every thing you might need at your destination. For instance, purchase those large bottles of sunscreen or toothpaste when you arrive.
Roll it. There’s nothing worse than schlepping heavy luggage and even bags with shoulder straps can cause neck and back pain. Instead, use a carry-on roller bag and a good daypack with thick shoulder straps and a waist strap. They’ll help you get where you’re going in comfort–without needing a visit to a chiropractor.
Use curbside skycaps. If you absolutely must check baggage, use the handy-dandy skycaps who work curbside at many airport departure gates. They can check your bags and print your boarding passes. All it costs is a small tip. It’s super convenient and saves time and hassle.
Avoid wrapping gifts. Security frowns on wrapped gifts. Instead, bring unwrapped items and buy wrapping paper when you arrive.
Stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink plenty of water when you’re traveling. But being dehydrated can bring on headaches and make you cranky. Carry water and drink up.
Avoid alcohol. You may think alcohol will make you feel better during holiday travel, but it won’t. Alcohol can zap your energy and make you feel tired and headachy. Save tippling for when you arrive at your destination.
Carry snacks. There’s nothing worse than having your flight delayed and none of the food vendors at the airport open. Or having only fast food options available. I often carry individual cheeses and a bag of mixed nuts in my carry on.
Eat healthfully. Sugar and too many simple carbs can have the same effect as alcohol—making you tired and out-of-sorts. Keep your energy up with plenty of lean protein snacks like cheese, nuts, lean meats, and veggies.
Travel during off-days, off-hours. If possible, travel when everyone else isn’t. That might mean traveling really early or late or traveling mid-week. If you’re flying, see if landing at a smaller, less busy airport is an option and rent a car to drive the rest of the way to your holiday destination.
Get organized to breeze through security. Have all the documents you need—your boarding pass and passport or other ID out and ready (be aware that in some places, state-issued ID is no longer acceptable for flying). Have your computer out. Take your shoes, belt, and jacket off. Make sure you’re not carrying liquids like water or coffee. Ensure your toiletries are only in 3 oz. bottles. Let security know if you have anything like metal joint replacements that might set off alarms.
If you’re driving across an international border, have your passport ready. Carry proof of vaccinations and license for your pets. Don’t try to transport fresh fruits, veggies, etc. across the border.
Stay in an airport hotel. Instead of traveling and worrying about getting to the airport on time. Consider spending the night before your flight at a convenient airport hotel that offers shuttle service to your terminal. You’ll arrive for your flight more rested and less stressed.
Apply for Pre-Check or Global Entry. While it’s too late for this holiday season to get these ‘go to the head of the line’ cards, consider getting one of these for the future. They allow you to speed through airport security without the usual drill. –Happy Holidays! — Bobbie Hasselbring, Editor realfoodtraveler.com