5 Ways To Keep Calm During Holiday Travel
With November and December come the bum rush of holiday travel, visiting and family time, which bring with them excitement, frenzy and, invariably, stress. This logistics of getting over the river and through the woods (read: over the George Washington Bridge and through New-York-area traffic) to grandmother’s house can raise my blood pressure instead my holiday cheer.
Here are five ways I’ve learned to keep my BP to reasonable levels on holiday travel days.
Since we’re often the ones traveling to our family (my folks), we try not to wait for invitations to decide how we’ll spend a particular holiday. We start the discussion with family members as early as possible to plan the festivities (no, July 4 is not too soon). Once we know Thanksgiving will be hosted at my parents’, we get a dinnertime established so we can plan our travel for Thanksgiving Day (less hectic than the day or two before) and schedule ourselves to be on time for dinner.
Our hosts often suggest we bring a dessert or some wine. No problem, but we also often offer to bring something we know our kids will eat (I’m sure your homemade cranberry-ginger chutney is delicious but my child doesn’t eat purple. Or ginger. Or chutney). More important, my son is highly allergic to peanuts so we also try to get a handle as soon as we can on what’s being served. We also vet anything he wants to put in his mouth at other people’s homes and keep his Epi-pen handy just in case!
Holiday travel is pretty much the worst flavor of travel. I’ve learned that if our flight is overbooked or we’re stuck in traffic, no amount of huffing and puffing will make it better. Moreover, our kids can sense that stress. Keeping cool and keeping perspective is hard, but it helps. And it doesn’t hurt to have some new puzzles or activities tucked away for delays; they distract the little ones and keep them from whining at least for a little while. (Need ideas? Try these!)
With all the prep work of cooking, wrapping and shlepping, we often forget what the point is. When it starts to feel like work I’ve learned to pause and re-assess my efforts. What’s the purpose of family time if you can’t truly enjoy the moment? If you spend more time planning and booking travel than you do in your actual holiday destination, that is not a good return on your time.
Present holiday travel to your family as an adventure instead of an obligation and you’ll make it memorable for the kids no matter what. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Getting past canceled flights, botched hotel reservations and family flare-ups over chestnuts in the stuffing (a very polarizing topic!) is doable. Just Keep calm and carry on (luggage, that is. And make sure it complies with the overhead storage limits!).
How do you manage the stress of holiday travel with the family?
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Liza Wyles, a full-time working mom of 2, is raising fourth generation New Yorkers. She writes with the conviction that the suburbs are no place to grow a family. She also develops, writes and produces for TV and film and is in blissful denial of a work-life balance. You can read some of her stuff on Aiming Low, Skirt! or her own Mama Jabber blog. You can also see some commercials she’s made or follow her on Twitter.