By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
The time you have waited for all year has arrived. It’s time for that Winter holiday vacation! You’ve scoured flights, hotels, restaurants… You’ve dreamed of strutting out of the office on your last day since August… And now the time has come! Maybe you’ve been planning a beach and margarita vacay or perhaps a Mount Tremblant ski trip (why yes, I will have whip on my hot chocolate!) Although relaxation and themed beverages may be the highlights of your vacation, you may find that there are some nagging travel stresses killing your buzz. Dump that travel baggage and keep looking forward to your vacation with my top tips for busting travel stress.
- Preparation. Nothing gets my heart pumping like fearing I have forgotten a key item at home. While many things can be replaced without too much fuss (who hasn’t forgotten to pack socks?!), other things can be a challenge. In the weeks leading up to your departure, keep a running list of necessities. Love yourself a Post-It note? Perfect. Keep it where you can see it (with an accompanying pen) and record the essentials. Technology more your speed? Open a “note” on your phone and add to your list the moment you think of something. Make sure your list includes things like any prescriptions or supplements you take, travel documents, local currency, and chargers for your devices. These items are best kept in your carry-on bag in case your checked bag gets lost. Make sure you run through your checklist as you’re walking out the door to prevent leaving something behind.
- Navigate the airport like a pro. Everyone knows that holiday time is the worst for airport craziness. Don’t let the chaos taint your trip. The best gift you can give yourself on your travel day is time. Get to the airport early. Leave more time than you think you’ll need to actually get to the airport (5pm on the 401 isn’t always smooth sailing). If that extra time wasn’t used up by unforeseen travel delays (hello, customs!), then congrats, you have bonus chill time! Take a walk through the terminal to get your body moving before you’re stuck in that little airplane seat for an hour or two or seven. Send out those last “Happy Holiday” texts to your buds before boarding. Hey, even try chatting up the airport staff… you never know when a first class seat will materialize with your name on it!
- Keep your cool. Airplane anxiety happens to the best of us. Even though we’re often reminded that flying is an extremely safe method of travel, it’s natural to feel a little shaky. After you get yourself comfy in your seat, focus on breathing slowly in and out, letting your lungs expand your abdomen as you do. Let the inhale and exhale each last for about five seconds. As you get your rhythm, close your eyes and picture yourself at your destination. Imagine it with each of your five senses: Feel the sun on your cheeks, smell the salty ocean water, taste the refreshing smoothie, see the white sandy beach, hear the waves crashing. Keep up this breathing and imagery as long as you like. You’ll feel so relaxed, chances are a bump or two of turbulence won’t bother you a bit. Look forward to feeling relaxed and psyched for your destination as you touch down.
- Go with the flow. Even the most careful planning can’t predict everything. Your bag may get lost, the weather may not be optimal, or the dreaded common cold may hit. The circumstance may not be ideal, but remember, you have control over your reaction to it. Don’t allow negative thoughts to take over and ruin your holiday. Remind yourself that, even with this blip, you’re here to have a good time. You are in charge of your emotions. Bring your focus to what is going well (the friendly bartender makes a fab daiquiri, you’ve totally beat your best time cross-country skiing, you and your partner are connecting better than ever) and choose to enjoy those aspects of your trip. You’ve earned your vacation, make sure you enjoy it!
This holiday season travel safe, have fun, and be kind to yourself. ’Tis the season of joy after all! See you in 2016!
Lauren Berger is BACK at the Integrative Health Institute on January 6, 2016! She is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW. Book your appointment with Lauren here.