For many people, the holidays are associated with packing a suitcase and hitting the road. In fact, about 98 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more to see loved ones during the year’s end holiday season. Between congested airports, cold weather and family dynamics, making a holiday journey during this time of year can be stressful.
Making this yearly trek doesn’t have to transform you into a bundle of nerves, however. With a little bit of planning, deep breathing and the right relaxation tools, this year’s holiday season can be a totally joyful experience—whether or not you travel far. Follow these tips for a peaceful visit.
1. Get comfy
Driving in a cramped car or dragging luggage through a crowed airport are some of the most uncomfortable parts of holiday travel. Now is the time to bust out your most comfy sweaters, neck pillows and essential oils so you can try and make these experiences just a tad more pleasant. Try downloading the Headspace meditation app to re-center yourself on your expedition or pack your most plush slipper-socks—anything you can do to be as physically and mentally comfortable as possible.
2. Give your immune system a boost
The only thing to compound travel stress more than, say, someone kicking the back of your seat for hours on end, is coming down with an unexpected cold. To prevent contracting some icky bug along the way, give your immune system a boost before you leave. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and unprocessed foods the week before you venture out, catch up on your sleep, and take a boost of chaga mushroom powder or another immunity-enhancing superfood to prepare your system for your trip.
3. Plan your meals
Poor nutrition and low blood sugar do not mix with stressful travel. Avoid any crashes by planning when your meals will take place, incorporating healthy and fresh foods into your meals whenever possible, and packing along some energy bars for emergencies.
4. Know your boundaries
You are already stepping outside your comfort zone when you leave your home and embark on a trip—it’s important to know how far you are willing to extend yourself and to make these boundaries known to friends and family. If your auntie begs you to stay for another night, but you need a day’s rest at home before returning to work, stick to your boundary and let her down nicely. The same goes for any rough conversation that may pop up at dinnertime: if things get too heated, politely explain that you are not comfortable discussing the topic any longer and request the discussion be resumed at another time and place.
5. Prioritize self-care
The holidays are about sharing our time and focus with loved ones, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves in the process. Whether you feel overwhelmed while monitoring your budget, entertaining family or traveling to a different state, be sure to prioritize keeping yourself in good and healthy spirits. Replenish whatever becomes deprived along the way and you will feel refreshed for the new year.