Five Ways to Manage Holiday Travel

Extras, Packing & Wardrobe — By on December 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm

By Kayleigh Minicozzi
LG Contributor

Carolers are out in the snow, sugar plum fairies are dancing and jolly old St. Nick can be found in almost every department store across the country. Reality is the holiday season isn’t approaching, it’s pounced and we’re smack dab in the middle of it. Along with the festive décor and tasty cookies, comes the inevitable and chaotic exodus of home bound travelers. There’s no way of escaping it. Airports with be crowed, train ticket prices astronomical and delays are inevitable.

What intrigues me about this time of year is that people tend to shift their mindsets and often loose all reminisce of travel common-sense. Just because you’re traveling “home” doesn’t mean you’re not preparing for a trip and shouldn’t channel all your savvy globe-trotting and lodging techniques.

With Christmas a few days away and New Year’s right around the corner, it’s past the point of prep and planning and time for full on survival tactics. Below are five simple tips for effectively coping with the week ahead because dealing with an extended sleepover at the in-laws can be just has draining as a 16 hour flight abroad.

Couch Surfing Comfort
Being away from your plush pillow top for more than a day can cause sleepless nights and seriously put a damper on your holiday cheer, especially when you’re crashing with a hometown friend or shacking up with distant relatives. You may have experience sleeping on an airport floor or sharing a hostel room with 40 other backpackers from past exotic travels, but all that pales in comparison to Aunt Betty’s cat-hair filled couch or the top bunk in your 15 year old cousin’s room. The key to coping with “forced-free lodging” is to add familiar comforts in what ever way possible. Basic tricks like packing a set of your own sheets, brining your favorite pillow or investing in some ear plugs and an eye mask can go a long way. While I don’t recommend lugging a ton of extras in you luggage, swapping in these staples over a few extra outfits is well worth it in the end.

Carry On Survival Kit
In my 7 years of experience flying, busing, training and driving home for the holidays, a carry on bag has in many situations served as a life preserver if stocked well. Spending time strategically packing your shoulder bag for voyages home is just as important as it would be for a tropical vacation. The first and most obvious reason is that checked and stored luggage often gets lost or sent to a different destination, leaving you without necessities for the first days of your visit. Make sure to pack stable items in your carry on such as undergarments, makeup, toiletries, comfortable and dressy shoes and up to three outfits you can mix and match. This could save aggravation and money if you arrive without luggage. The second reason is carry on bags are usually accessible and always with you. Because of that you can pack a plethora of items proactively for the trip. When trips are long and delays happen, this can come in handy if you pack a variety of snacks, an empty water bottle, music, books and activities to keep yourself full and entertained.

Don’t Skip the Gym
Although it feels like an acceptable omission when your busy party hopping and visiting with family, fitting in exercise when traveling for the holidays can have big pay off. Schlepping luggage and gifts and dealing with crowded terminals and nasty weather can really be taxing on your immune system. By the time you arrive at your destination you already feel defeated after being plagued by dehydration, jet-lag and germs. Fight the natural inclination to hibernate and pig out exclusively and find ways to fit exercise in. Call up an old friend in the area and see if they have guest passes to their gym and rather than catching up over cocktails or pastries, swap stories while on the treadmill. Make it a family affair and gather your relatives for an evening stroll through you’re your towns decorated neighborhood to look at the lights. For those of you without snowy Decembers, plan a family kick-ball, baseball or basketball game to get in your activity while bonding with the clan.

Ship the Santa Merchandise Home
Part of coping with the turbulence of holiday travel is finding ways to cut corners and make it easier. Often times trimming down in the luggage department can add a lot of relief and receiving gifts while your home doesn’t need to double your checked bags if you’re strategic. Using flat rate boxes from the post office allows you to ship items for one price regardless of the weight. A larger flat-rate box is 12 inches by 12 inches and ships for only 12 dollars. With the average price for checking a piece of luggage at 46 dollars, it’s even financial smart to mail your new belongings home and travel light.

Take a day or two off from work after holiday festivities
Lastly nothing is worse than getting back to your apartment or home after a week of festivities and needing a vacation from your vacation. You’ve braved the frenzied crowds only to come home and realize you have mounds of laundry to do and decorations to put away. This is when taking even just one sick or personal day can be a life preserver. You’re bound to be more productive your first day back to the office if you’ve had a day to manage things at home and get a restful night’s sleep.

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