The holidays are almost here! Meaning it may be time to pack up the family, get on a plane, and head back to your hometown so your kids can visit with grandma and grandpa. So, though you may be thrilled to see your family and spend time where you grew up, we can bet not all of us are looking forward to the day of traveling. We understand that traveling, especially with your kids, can be stressful.
This year, we want to help – Dr. Yazhini Srivathsal, psychiatrist at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, has shared 8 great tips to help keep your holiday travel stress to a minimum.
1. Make some lists.
Put an end to the constant worrying you are going to forget something and write things down. You can tape a list to the front door that includes things you need to do before leaving the house like checking the mail or watering the plants. Write yourself a list of the can’t-live-without essentials you will need to pack for you and your kids. This will help prevent having to turn back around to get something and putting your perfectly planned schedule at risk.
2. Visualize your travel day ahead of time.
As you are preparing for your trip, take a few minutes to think through what your travel day will look like. This will help remind you of some additional things you may need to bring or things you can do in advance to keep the day running smoothly. It might be a good idea to get a print out of your boarding pass, as you don't want to be delayed if the app on your phone does not work at the security gate. Are you going to be using your phone to occupy your time at the airport and on the airplane? Maybe slip a portable charger into your purse so you don’t run out of battery. Is your family picking you up from the airport? Send them your flight information now so they can stay posted on your arrival time.
3. Fly early in the day.
Taking an earlier flight is usually your best bet for avoiding delays at boarding and landing. This is a nice bonus anytime, but especially when traveling with kids around the holidays. This will also be an advantage if you have unforeseen delays, flight cancellations or missed flights, as you might be able to get another flight the same day, instead of having to wait overnight at the airport.
4. Leave before you think you should.
Plan on heading to the airport earlier than you may think is necessary. Keep in mind there may be traffic on the way there, you need to get through security, you want to take the kids to the bathroom before they get on the plane, etc. Feeling rushed is a surefire way to add unnecessary stress into your day.
5. Have important documents, emergency supplies and medications handy.
Whenever you are traveling, be sure to have your health insurance information on hand, just in case. If your trip involves driving, make sure you have all the necessary documents for your vehicle like auto insurance, car registration and emergency roadside assistance information. Also, be sure you have a first aid kit in the car, along with other emergency supplies like flashlights and jumper cables. Don't forget your medications and try to carry at least an extra day's supply.
6. Be comfortable.
Getting enough rest before the travel day and eating nutritious meals throughout the day, will help you feel better during and after the travel. Dress in comfortable clothing and shoes while you’re traveling as you can always change into nicer clothing once you arrive. Make sure you stretch or walk in-flight, at least a few times during your travel too.
7. Be smart with your carry-ons.
Think through what you want to carry onto the plane and what you are going to check. Put liquids in quart-sized bags and laptops in easily accessible areas, so you are ready for the security line. Coming prepared with snacks and a new or favorite toy for each child can be a lifesaver. Make sure you have enough entertainment for yourself too like a hard copy of a good book, an audiobook or videos. Once you get through security, pick up some water so that you have enough in the event there are any delays along the way. On the flipside, really think through what you need to bring and what you do not. You do not want to be struggling to carry everything you packed while trying to hold on to your little ones. With online shopping and stores willing to ship directly to almost anywhere, it might be a better idea to ship out gifts, instead of carrying them with you.
8. Think positive and relax.
There is no use worrying that something will go wrong when the day may go smoothly. Understand that certain things are out of your control and be confident that you did your best to prepare for the day ahead. Don't forget to be kind to yourself. Understand that others around you might be stressed by holiday travel too and try to practice kindness towards them. Remember the holidays are to relax, enjoy and have fun. You might be surprised to find that your travel day becomes part of your beautiful holiday memories, so remember to not fret the little things. So, now...sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays!