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How to Make (Stress-Free) Travel Part of Your Holiday Break

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Dec 27, 2022 10:26 AM EST

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How to Make (Stress-Free) Travel Part of Your Holiday Break

(Photo: How to Make (Stress-Free) Travel Part of Your Holiday Break)

Since the holiday season is the busiest travel time of the year, many people deal with travel-related stress because they venture outside their homes to visit family all around the country. 

Some travel through the air and others venture to family engagements on the road. Both travel options have their own stressors and challenges. While it may seem hard to believe, you can reduce the stress associated with holiday travel no matter how you choose to travel.

With just a few extra steps, you can set your family up for travel success. Everything from planning to packing and even short-term car insurance can help alleviate the stress everyone feels while traveling.

Why is travel so stressful?

Most people see travel as an exciting experience. It's a time to see new places, experience new things, or visit rarely seen friends and family. But for many, the excitement of travel soon gives way to anxiety and stress. 

So why is travel so stressful? It's often a combination of factors that causes heightened levels of stress and anxiety. As creatures of habit, it can be hard to adjust to the disruption of our daily routine. The lack of support and familiar faces can make it difficult to deal with unexpected and unusual situations. 

For those who travel outside their home country, there can be additional stressors and concerns. The potential language barrier and culture shock can be cause for concern and increase stress levels. 

How can you make travel stress free?

If we know travel is going to be stressful, then maybe it's time to invest in stress-relieving strategies. Enjoying the destination starts with the travel, so it's important to get off on the right foot.

There are a few ways to make stress more enjoyable for both air and road travel. 

Airline Travel

Air travel is one of the quickest and most enjoyable ways to travel long distances. People who need to see family or friends during the holidays set aside a day or two to travel through the air and arrive with little work.

But air travel does involve a lot more moving parts and a lot less control on the traveler's part. This can lead to a lot of stress and worry. The best way to minimize that stress is to plan ahead and be prepared.

#1 - Arrive Early

Airplanes are notorious for a lack of patience - meaning, they won't wait because you forgot to pack something or are waiting for a parking lot shuttle. 

The best way to ensure you make your flight and have less stress is to arrive early. The best rule of thumb is to plan for at least two hours early. This will ensure plenty of time to get through security, check bags, and find the correct gate - especially if the original gate changes.

#2 - Pack Lightly

Lost bags are a big stressor. You arrive at this wonderful destination, but you don't have any of your necessities or clothing. This sets the stage for stress and anxiety throughout the trip.

Consider packing lightly and opt for a carry-on bag. This keeps your bags and things in your control. Plus, you'll be guaranteed to arrive at your destination with all your belongings.

#3 - Check in Online

A good travel habit is checking in online. This advancement in travel technology means you can skip the check-in counter at the airport and head right for security.

The online check-in option is usually available 24 hours before departure time, so you'll have to remember to get online the day before you're set to fly out.

#4 - Skip Security

If you're a frequent flyer, it might be a good idea to invest in the TSA precheck program. This program minimizes the security requirements for people who travel a lot. You can skip the backlogged security line and find your gate quicker.

The precheck option is a financial commitment and has an application process, but it can limit the stress of flying substantially, especially around the busy holiday times.

#5 - Be Prepared

If security is still part of your travel requirements, then make sure you're prepared. Security checks require identification and documentation of your person and flight. Have these documents readily available in the security line and things will be a lot easier.

#6 - Relax

Once check-in and security are complete, find a comfy seat (or as comfortable as possible in an airport) and relax. Make sure you know exactly where your gate is and take a moment to breathe. Ready your mind for the joy that awaits you during the rest of your travels.

Car Travel

Travel by car brings about its own set of stressors and challenges. Rather than rushing to the airport before departure, you have to pack everything and everyone in one vehicle and be ready to navigate the road to your destination.

Some people see road trips as full of stress, but there are ways to minimize the concerns and find some peace.

#1 - Make a Plan 

The first step to a stress-free road trip is making a plan. It's less about which route we are taking and when we expect to get there, and more about the journey.

Get the kids involved and identify some of the attractions and local dinner spots that are worth stopping at. Also consider the rhythm of travel. Is this a trip to hurry up and get to the destination, or can things move more slowly?

#2 - Pack Smart Snacks

One of the best parts of road trips is the snacks. You can pack your favorite treats or indulge in some local favorites as you travel. But this can have some more negative consequences.

It's a good idea to pack some healthier, protein-packed options to balance any sugar or highly processed foods. These healthier options will keep you more awake and alert whether you are driving or sightseeing.

#3 - Delegate Jobs

There are many jobs or responsibilities to consider when going on a road trip. Of course, there's the driver and the navigator, but what about researcher, snack captain, or photographer? 

Assigning these jobs keeps everyone involved and engaged in the trip but helps lift some of the pressure off everyone else. 

#4 - Make a Schedule (But Stay Flexible)

Scheduling is great, but it shouldn't be so restrictive that things are missed or people are forced out while tired and cranky. The best way to relieve a lot of travel stress is to make a flexible schedule. 

You'll want to make a list of must-see attractions or experiences. You shouldn't try to pack more than two of these into a single day. Remember to stay flexible. Family responsibilities may pop up unexpectedly or people may want to have a lazy day.

#5 - Pack Twice

Packing is a big stressor, and it's made even worse when packing for a car trip. The best way to pack is to simply pack twice. This means you pack luggage (clothing and toiletries) in the trunk or storage space. 

Then you keep more essential items (sunglasses, phone charger, change of clothes) in a smaller bag in the cab of the car. You'll be able to access the things you need more quickly and won't have to dig through your big packed bag. 

Traveling and Temporary Insurance

Unforeseen circumstances are another big stressor. It's hard to plan for things that you don't know will happen, like car trouble or a traffic accident. Nobody wants to deal with these things while traveling for the holidays, but unfortunately, they do happen. 

That's why it's a good idea to consider temporary insurance. This type of insurance is helpful in situations like rental cars. If you find yourself traveling in a different car temporarily, like a rental car, then consider adding temporary or third-party rental car insurance to your to-do list.

It's there to make sure you are fully protected in the event of the unexpected, and it won't put a damper on the rest of the trip.

Traveling is the best way to see the world, seek new adventures, and see distant loved ones. But it can be a time of stress and concern. This next holiday season, take the time to prepare before your travels and see how much more relaxing the whole experience really is.

Laura Gunn writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, She is passionate about others getting out to see the world in a very relaxed (but prepared) way.

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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