Over the river and through the woods, people will be heading off to visit family and friends for the holidays between now and New Year’s Day.
According to the Department of Transportation, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are among the busiest travel days of the year. The AAA estimates that 94.5 million people will travel during the holidays, with 85.5 million taking trips via a personal vehicle and 5.53 million by air.
Highway rest stops, bus stations, train stations, and airports will be crowded with holiday travelers. Making your way to visit family or friends can be a challenge during this busy time of year, especially if there are little ones, teens, and young adults in tow.
Here are some easy tips to help you get there in a healthy and stress-free way.
Preparation and Planning
Make a checklist for each family member with the items that you need to pack: clothing, snacks, reading material, and so on. Pack the night before, and don’t over-pack; you can always do laundry at your vacation destination if need be.
Keep any medications and allergy sprays in your carry-on, so that you can access them quickly if you need to.
Get plenty of rest the night before your travel, and always check your local weather and your destination weather for all possible travel delays.
If driving, remember to take your car in for a tune-up, oil change, and break check ahead of time. And if flying, learn about baggage restrictions before you pack and arrive to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
Being well prepared for your travel will help you minimize stress. Use stress management techniques like listening to music, reading a book or magazine, or mindful meditation to stay relaxed as well.
Avoid travel fatigue by staying hydrated. Staying away from caffeine and alcohol will also help if you are prone to headaches and body aches while traveling. If you don’t like drinking plain water, try adding a twist of orange, lemon, lime, or berries to it.
Bring healthy snacks like fruit, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. These are a great source of energy, with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals to keep you energized and full.
Keep your circulation moving while traveling, no mater if you are in a car, plane, train, or bus. When you’re able, get up and stretch with a walk down the aisle or just stretch in your seat: Reach your arms above your head, twist your waist from side to side, or extend the legs out.
Immobility for long periods of time, especially for those with chronic medical conditions, can bring the risk of blood clots. Be sure to consult with your physician before traveling if you have any concerns.
Before your trip and heading into crowded travel hubs, boost your immune system with supplements such as zinc, echinacea, astragalus, ginseng, goldenseal, and elderberry. Also, be sure to dress comfortably when traveling.
If you are prone to motion sickness, take your over-the-counter medication or remedy before your drive or flight. Conventional treatments such as Bonine or Dramamine can be found in any grocery or drug store. Alternatively, try homeopathic remedies such as Cocculus indicus, tabacum, and ipecacuanha, which can be found at your local health food market.
Bring some sugarless ginger chews or a chewable papaya enzyme supplements for bloating and gas, as indigestion may amplify if you are nervous about travel.
The dry, recycled air in the car, bus, train, or plane can also aggravate allergy sensitivities. Keep sinuses moist and free of allergens by using a nasal saline spray.
Traveling With Children
If you are traveling with children, get them involved in preparing for the trip. Have them help you make a checklist of things they would like to keep themselves entertained (books, music, games, cards). Make sure everyone understands what the trip will involve (car, train, bus, plane) and what to expect.
Dress your children comfortably in layers that can easily be removed if they get too hot, and encourage them to take breaks, go to the bathroom, or just stretch their legs. Alternatively, consider driving or flying at night so the kids can sleep most of the trip.
Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand and make sure everyone stays hydrated with water. Avoid the sugar highs and crashes by staying away from soda and juices. Most importantly, do your best to stay calm and be flexible.
The holidays are about enjoying and being grateful for the love and company of others. Have a wonderful, safe, stress-free, and healthy holiday trip.
Victoria Ann Diaz is a certified integrative health and life coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In her Life Balance Health Coach practice, she supports clients with a mindful-living approach to health and wellness. For more information, visit www.lifebalancehealthcoach.com.
*Image of “winter travel” via Shutterstock