I've certainly been doing my fair share of traveling lately, and I'm finally starting to feel like an expert traveler (kinda) which is big news for someone like me who isn't the most comfortable when it comes to flying! I won't be slowing down any time soon either...5 flights scheduled in total to get me from place to place during the holiday season!
My main problem I always have when it comes to traveling and flying is anxiety...there is so much that isn't in my control, so much room for things to go wrong, and the whole experience is just downright tiring. Factor in the added stress that comes with holiday travel?? Yikes.
You have to juggle families that are likely scattered across multiple cities, trying to nail down presents (and get them to the right places, on time!), make sure you're splitting your time equally...and don't even get me started on the packing process for all of the holiday festivities!
There are definitely some fool-proof ways out there to help make sure all of your holiday travels go off without the extra stress, so I wanted to share some of my best tips I've learned over the years (with a lifetime of having family members in up to 4 different states...) to help keep anxiety down, and festive spirits high!
1. Ship Gifts Ahead of Time. One of the best and most effective ways to help reduce the ache of packing when presents and gifts are involved is to ship them directly to wherever they need to go. Simply warn the person that you have a package arriving addressed to you (of course, ask their permission first!) and then wrap it when you get there. This is how I've handled my last few Christmases, and it's made things so much easier. (Plus, then I get to wrap them in the comfort of my family home, with decorations, music and festive snacks to accompany me!)
2. Make Flying Easy. Earlier this summer, I applied for TSA Pre-Check, and it's definitely one of those never-look-back scenarios. It saves me a ton of time, and my anxiety about arriving to the airport early has pretty much evaporated. Fun bonus - you don't have to remove anything from your bags, and you get to keep your shoes on! It takes a couple of weeks to get an appointment, so definitely go online and find out where to go ASAP. It lasts for 5 years, so it's money and time well spent!
3. Leave Room for the Unexpected. Everyone tends to leave extra time when it comes to going to the airports, but a lot of people don't budget this in to the time it takes them to actually get out of the house. If you're a last-minute kind of person, budgeting an extra hour of time into your travel plans will keep your schedule clear for what I call the "uh-oh window". Example: you're almost done packing and it's time to leave when you realize "uh-oh"...you never dropped off those last few things at the post office! (or pick up a prescription, pack a forgotten item, etc...). Leaving that extra window for mistakes will keep you calm and stress-free.
4. Stay Plugged In. It's so sad to admit how dependent we are on our technology, but it's obviously a pretty critical part of the traveling process, especially when you're trying to stay on the same page as family members, etc. I get irrationally anxious when I see my phone battery dwindling throughout my travel day...so now I have this incredible portable charger that holds 4 full charges, and fits easily into my bag. Now I know I can listen to my music, text away, and feel confident that I'll be able to stay updated.
5. Plan for Things to Go Wrong. I don't like to advocate for a negative outlook on things, but I've found that if I can plan for and mentally prepare myself for things to go wrong (such as weather problems, flight delays/cancellations, bad traffic, forgetting to pack an item...) I tend to be better prepared, and it doesn't rattle me as much when these things do inevitably happen. Expect your travel to get messed up, and then be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't! The important thing to remember is - if you get delayed, cancelled, or forget an item...all of these things can be fixed. You will get there eventually, items can be borrowed or replaced, and the important thing is to just stay calm and breathe.
The actual process of traveling will probably always be something I'd rather not be doing...but then I remember how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to see new places, visit my family and friends, and spend the holidays with them. Definitely something to be grateful for and remember if/when you run into unexpected delays!
I hope you all have safe travels this week if you're heading elsewhere for Thanksgiving!