Whether you are travelling to another county or another country during this festive season, between packing and unpacking, family, friends, in-laws, fussy eaters, fussy sleepers and fussy passengers – travelling can be challenging. While there’s no place like home for the holidays – whether it’s your family home, your own home or a friend’s, there’s no denying that the journey to get there can be stressful.
When all you want is a cup of tea by the fire and a breather, even a short flight or drive at such a busy time of year can feel like an incredible trek. While the cheery Christmas lights unfortunately don’t do much for the short fuses that can come with travelling during the holidays, a little planning can help get you there stress-free, with your Christmas Spirit still alive and kicking (and your kids hopefully not kicking).
Stress-free travel tips for the holiday season
1. Go early
If you’re flying, schedule the first flight out – you can sleep when you get there and are more likely to avoid stress-filled delays this way. Same goes for driving, the early you leave, the less likely you are to get stuck in a less-than-jolly traffic jam. Pop on the Christmas music and have a sing-a-long (and some snacks) to get you through the journey. Also, getting en route early avoids the chance of any stressful rushing. Start as you mean to go on – calmly.
2. Make a list
While it may be the 748th list you have had to make this month, make a list of things you absolutely cannot forget to bring with you on the trip and stick it to your front door. That was you literally cannot leave the house without seeing it and being reminded of what you potentially would have forgotten. It may seem excessive, but it’s better than realising 20 minutes away from Grandma’s house that you’ve left Peppa Pig at home..
3. Be mindful of gifts
If you are flying anywhere for the Christmas period, the super organised among us may want to have every last gift wrapped in advance. Fair warning: airport security do not care, if they feel like it, they will rip those presents open as if they’re a kid on Christmas morning (And no, Airport Security will not be a good elves and re-wrap your gifts). So, save yourself the pain of watching your creative handiwork go to waste and wrap your gifts on the flipside.
4. Spread Christmas cheer
Everybody knows the stress that travelling can cause – whether it is due to a teething toddler, a chaotic car journey or an overflowing airport terminal – we all experience it in some way, so be mindful of others going through the same thing. Find an opportunity when you’re travelling during the holiday season to spread goodwill and make someone else’s stressful situation a little more bearable.
Buy coffee for the person behind you in the queue. Thank the people working in the airport who help you in any way, they would rather be with their loved ones too. Smile at people who look stressed. Help someone take their baggage off the carousel or out of the overhead bin. You have no idea how something so small can change someone’s entire day.
5. Avoid the holiday blues
It is natural for our brains to pull us in millions of directions at this time of year, not giving us a moment to relax or to even enjoy and be in the present moment. The ultimate antidote to this is simply training our brain to focus on the present moment – the here and now.
Practice mindfulness if that’s something you find works for you, or self care in any other form that you find useful or makes you feel grounded, like yoga, meditation, light exercise, napping or journalling. While the Christmas season is all about family, friends and loved ones – it’s okay to need time for yourself as well. It can be overwhelming, so take a moment to regroup whenever you need to.
6. Save your skin
Cold weather, alcohol and an overdose of sugar during the festive season can cause your skin to freak out. Add a plane journey or a lengthy car or plane journey on top of that and you’ve got yet another example of skin sabotage. When you’re on a plane you are exposed to ultra-dry, recirculated air.
While a plane isn’t the easiest place to do so – try to cleanse and hydrate your skin as best you can. Who cares how crazy you look with a sheet mask on your face mid-flight? You’ll be the one bouncing off the plane with glowing skin while they nay-sayers look on in envy.
Cleanse, moisturise skin, hands and lips and drink lots of water. Just like you would not sleep in your make-up (we HOPE), leaving products on your skin for long journeys is a recipe for disaster – in the form of breakouts.
Allow me to set the scene: one suddenly missing shoe, your favourite jeans are nowhere to be found and your little one is insisting he does not want to packing any matching socks to go to Grandma’s for Christmas – the list goes on. Our one piece of packing advice to treasure is this: pack in outfits.
Lay them out, try them on so you make sure you’ve got all the items you need and pieces that can be worn and re-worn with different items throughout your time away. If all else fails, always make sure to pack your favourite pair of jeans and your favourite cosy sweater. The rest (apart from underwear) you can live without.
8. Bank of books
If you are someone who likes to read, the Christmas holidays are the best time to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and a selection box while your Mum takes over watching Frozen for the 17th time in a row with your little ones.
It’s another good way to make sure you get some down time during the holidays other than watching the Downton Abbey Christmas Special and weeping over Jude Law and Cameron Diaz in The Holiday (even though it’s the 47th time you’ve watched it). A Kindle is also great for reading while travelling because you don’t have to lug heavy books with you, everything is in one practical, compact spot.
According to the British Association of Dermatologists and the Journal of the American Medical Association of Dermatology, if you’re flying, it is essential to wear sunscreen on the plane as well as whacking on the moisturiser.
When you are in an aeroplane you are 10,000 feet closer to the sun and at a higher risk of getting sunburned than when you are on the ground. While you can protect yourself to some degree by closing your window shade, the person opposite you who passed out before the plane took off may not have had the same bright (get it?) idea, thus leaving you exposed to the sun’s rays.