Ahh, travelling during the Christmas holidays. The airports sure do look pretty, and whether it’s just having a Christmas abroad or enjoying the mulled wine of a Christmas market, it can be a fabulous time to travel.

But it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year – and that’s without travelling. Add on travel, and you get:

  • Family members upset that you are going abroad instead of seeing them. Or,
  • Airports packed to the brim, roadways clogged for miles.  Or,
  • Winter storms that bring cancellations, delays, and with that, despair.

Yup. Welcome to possibly the worst travel time of the year. Still worthy of travel, but not fun.

Holiday Travel Survival Techniques

You don’t have to let the holidays get you down. Avoid the stress and keep your sanity by exercising a healthy dose of practicality:

  • Practical Scheduling: Don’t book tight connections or plan to fly in an hour before the mince pies come out of the oven. Really, it’s just silly. Give yourself some wiggle room, and then give yourself a little more. (If that means being stuck with uncomfortable relatives a bit longer than welcome, top up your wine glass.)
  • Always try to be early: Further to the point about wiggle room, give yourself a bit more driving time, maybe an extra 45 minutes leaving for the airport or train station. It might save you in the event of big problems, but these are busy travel times, so queues can be bad.
  • Bring plenty of reading material: You’ll go through it quickly. Perhaps an opportune time to pick up a Kindle as an early present to yourself?
  • Prepare your paper resources, and bring them: That includes all confirmation numbers, and print out insurance, airline, car, and hotel phone numbers so you have them if you’re, say, at a family members house or somewhere with bad Internet.
  • Find Your Zen: Certain things are to be expected, without fail. Your family will be annoyed with you no matter what you decide to do. If the snow doesn’t cancel a flight or two, ice or staff strikes will. These things are just part of life.  So, take a deep breath – you’ll survive.

I’m a little harsh on Christmastime travel, but it’s partly tongue-in-cheek. It’s worth it to see family and friends, it’s worth it to get the heck out of town and spend Christmas on a beach, it’s worth it to brave the elements like everybody else. You just have to go into it knowing what you’ve gotten yourself into.

How do you survive family stress during the holidays?

Photos by cursedthing

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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