Plan Ahead to Lower Stress and Enjoy Your Holiday Getaway

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Traveling over the holidays has a bad reputation for being frenzied and stressful. But what if you want to take a relaxing, stress-free vacation this holiday season? Don’t assume that holiday travel has to live up to its reputation. Whether you’re visiting relatives, traveling solo, or planning a getaway with your partner, it is entirely in your power to actually enjoy traveling over the holidays.

Take Steps to Stay Safe

  • Being a victim of crime is a risk anytime you travel, but the increased crowds over the holiday season can make theft a bigger worry. Be extra careful about protecting your personal property. Carry the bare minimum of cash and only a single credit card, and keep money and other valuables in a purse or bag that is close to you at all times.
  • Secure and protect your home before you leave so you don’t spend your trip worrying about a break-in. Do a quick inspection of motion detectors and all locks and deadbolts on doors and windows to make sure they’re working properly. Consider installing an alarm system if you don’t have one, and use a checklist when you leave to make sure you remember to set it and take care of other safety measures. The Huffington Post recommends concealing valuables so your home isn’t an easy target, and taking steps to make your home look lived-in while you’re away.

Prevent Sickness and Stay Well

  • Airports and train stations are breeding grounds for germs, and cold and flu season is in full swing over the winter holidays. The simplest way to stay well is to wash hands frequently and use disinfecting wipes on any surfaces you touch, like the tray table on an airplane. The Red Cross recommends bringing your own pillows and blankets, which not only prevents sickness but has the added benefit of giving you a sense of comfort from something familiar.
  • It can be hard to eat right on the road, especially with the holidays being so focused on food, but try to keep to a healthy diet to feel your best. Bring your own snacks of dried or fresh fruit, whole grains and protein. Avoid foods that are very salty because they lead to dehydration, and of course, drink plenty of water. Not only does dehydration make you feel bad physically and emotionally, but it also weakens your immune system.
  • Find ways to get active to release endorphins for emotional balance and to feel better physically. Seek out ways to get a little movement in, like taking the stairs instead of an elevator. Mind Body Green suggests several easy-to-do travel exercises that keep your body from getting stiff and promote mental wellness at the same time.

Mind Your Mind

  • No matter what you do, stressful situations will come your way when traveling. The trick is to manage stress and practice self-care so you can handle those situations with ease. It may sound simplistic, but one of the best ways to handle stress is to breathe. Be mindful of when your stress level is rising and take a moment to focus on your breath. Take comfort items with you as well as ways of keeping yourself distracted, like a good book, music, or crossword puzzles. When you get where you’re going, take some time for yourself and unwind with a relaxing bath, a walk, or some time at a spa.
  • Minimize the stressful situations that can arise by planning ahead. USA Today recommends packing early and lightly to take away the anxiety of last-minute preparations and the worry about whether you can fit everything. If you’re flying, get to the airport early to avoid worrying about missing your flight. Some stressful situations may be inevitable when traveling, but many you can avoid by planning ahead.

With a little preparation, holiday travel doesn’t have to be stressful. It can actually be relaxing and fun to travel over the holidays as long as you go into it prepared and with an open heart. Most of all, focus on finding joy and the reason for the season, whatever that may mean to you.

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