Whether you’re planning a family vacation to Disney World, a European adventure or a road trip to visit grandparents, there are bound to be delays, forgotten items, traffic jams and if you have kids, loud choruses of “Are we there yet?” To help keep you sane and ensure your holiday travel this season runs smoothly, we’ve rounded up 10 of our best tips and tricks for a hassle-free trip.
Have a checklist
As soon as you book your holiday trip or finalize your plans, create a checklist with everything you need to remember or do before you go. Have a second list for everything you need to pack, especially if you have kids or need to remember medications for anyone in the family. Having a list and checking it several times will ensure you don't forget anything (like tickets and passports or worse, your baby's favorite blanket), or leave without arranging for someone to collect the mail and feed the cat.
Give yourself extra time
Every trip, no matter how short, comes with potential problems. Traffic jams, misplaced passports or kids who dawdle can all conspire to make you late – and being late is the last thing you need when trying to make a flight or get somewhere within a specific timeframe, especially during the busy holiday travel season.
Think function over fashion
Whether you're flying or driving, make sure you're as comfortable as you can be. Think leggings and a slouchy sweater or cargo pants with your comfy white T-shirt and cozy cardigan. A long journey is not the time for your cute new heels, tight jeans or anything else that will make you uncomfortable or feel constricted in your seat.
Remembering to drink water regularly while on the road or in the air will ward off the fatigue that comes with dehydration and stress. If you're driving or taking the bus, bring plenty of water with you (add a squeeze of lemon or lime to perk it up) and stop for more when you need to. If you're flying, request still or mineral water with every meal or snack, so you always have something to sip.
Don't go hungry
One way to increase your seasonal stress level is to let yourself get hungry. Forgetting to eat can cause your mood and energy level to plummet and you won't be able to deal calmly and effectively with problems that arise. Pack a small bag with healthy snacks for the drive. Raw nuts and seeds, apples, granola bars and dried fruit are all good choices for a quick energy boost.
Pack ear plugs
Whether you're on the plane and want to sleep amid crying babies, or you have to listen to your parent's dog barking all night for the duration of your stay, ear plugs can help you get a good night's sleep no matter where you are. Pack two or three pairs in case you lose one.
Invest in mini versions of your favorite products
There's nothing like having your favorite cleanser, moisturizer and body wash with you wherever you go. Most brands offer travel sizes and some have created travel sets (we love the MALIN + GOETZ essential kit) to ensure you always have what you love and don't have to cart around full-size versions.
Bring plenty of distractions
If you've got kids, you know you'll need to bring enough books, Nintendo DS games, stuffed animals and other boredom-busters to keep them happy for the duration of the drive or flight, and to cover any delays. But it's not just the kids -- keep yourself sane during stopovers and long flights with books, a journal to jot notes in, and apps and games for your smartphone to keep you busy.
Save something for the trip back
Whether for you or your kids or both, save a book, new game or other unopened treat (or two) for the way home. Chances are, everyone will be tired and even more prone to stress on the way home so it's nice to have some surprises in store or a little something to look forward to.
Realize you can't control everything
Stop, take a deep breath and count to 10. Know that travel (though rewarding) involves many things you just can't control. So instead of getting frustrated and stressed, let go of your need to control everything, sit back and let the day unfold. Take a walk around the airport (if your frustrations are air-travel-related), do some deep breathing and distract yourself as best you can so you don't drive yourself crazy.
More holiday sanity tips
How to really enjoy the holiday season
Watch this video for three tips for enjoying the holiday season.