November is here which means it's officially holiday travel season. Hooray? And, although travel is often associated with stress, it doesn't have to be: because a week at your in-laws is taxing enough.
So, we've compiled a list of our favorite tips to keep stress low and good vibes high regardless of whether you're making it over the hill and through the woods or battling the lines at TSA.
How to experience stress-free travel this holiday season:
- Leave yourself adequate time. I know, I know, it seems like common sense and yet: show of hands if you've ever arrived at the airport 40 minutes before your flight, sweating bullets, and cursing the Lyft driver for not breaking the speed limit juuust a bit. Nothing raises cortisol levels more than the feeling like YOUMIGHTJUSTNOTMAKEIT. So save the running for the gym (or even better: for the nature) and give yourself the gift of airport relaxation. Once you're through TSA there are a plethora of cafes, adult beverage establishments (beer is vegan, too), and even those random airport spas complete with overpriced pedicure and questionably good neck massage (because hey, you deserve it).
- Cool it with the caffeine. Caffeine, although a seemingly necessary part of everyday life, can encourage your body's cortisol production. This extra nudge, coupled with check-in lines, pushy people, or a car full of kiddos all clamoring "are we there yet??" is not going to further you on the path towards Travel Nirvana. Cortisol is known as "the stress hormone" for a reason. It's important for helping your body cope with stressful situations, but too much isn't good either and can leave you feeling jittery and panicked. So save that pre workout for another day, treat yourself to a nice herbal tea, close your eyes, and breathe.
- Invest in a neck pillow. Seem cumbersome? There are some pretty stellar inflatable neck pillows out there nowadays that are literal lifesavers. Inflate for cat nap, fold flat to pack. Crucial for car rides, too (as long as you're not the navigator...or the driver).
- Bring your own water bottle and hydrate. Most airports now have water bottle fill stations next to the water fountain which means you can stay hydrated without spending $17 on a bottle of Fiji. Forgot yours? Buy a big one from the newsstand and make it reusable for the duration of your trip. Flying is inherently drying so drinking consistently throughout the day helps to mitigate any yucky feelings the day after you travel. Same goes for road trips: gas stations will fill your bottle for free (and there's no such thing as taking too many rest stops: making time to stretch your legs is never unimportant).
- Nourish your skin, nose, and ears. Flying dehydrates inside and out, so grab your favorite 3.4oz moisturizer (coconut oil makes a great no fuss, 100% natural option) and reapply all day long. For the nose and ears consider an Ayurvedic alternative called Nasya oil. A few drops in each ear immediately before takeoff and your ears will handle elevation changes like the pros that they are (read: oil in your ears helps your ears to "pop" the way that they should). Don't forget about the nose: you're more susceptible to illness when your nose is dry! So keep that baby lubricated by snorting some Nasya oil. (Don't worry, you'll never see these people again. If you're still worried feel free to snort oil in the privacy of your own bathroom stall.)
- Take your greens! I don't know about you, but a day full of opening pre-packaged food can get tedious; no matter how much you love snacking. So take one thing (nutrition) off your already-crowded plate...and add it to your glass! With three to five servings of over 20 veggies you'll no longer have to concern yourself with finding that (wilty) overpriced airport salad to fill your vegetable quota for the day. Enjoy before you leave the house or take it with you for extra nutrition on the road.
- Pack snacks. They may get tedious but they're 100% necessary - and a Lunabar at the airport is going to cost you twice as much as it will at Trader Joe's. Fact. Nuts, dried fruit, energy bars, dark chocolate, fresh carrots and other crunchy veggies, you name it - go wild. (Just no coconut yogurt because technically it's a liquid. Yeah: learned that the hard way.) Nobody wants to sit next to a hangry stranger.
- Noise. Cancelling. Headphones. Crying baby two rows back? Obnoxious laugher three rows up? (Oops, guilty.) Don't know, don't care. Tune out the world, and your children, with a great pair of musical earmuffs. Perfect for pairing with that inflatable neck pillow and snoozing the flight away.
- Do some yoga. A lot of terminals now boast yoga rooms and what better way to reduce stress than pairing movement with breath and zen-ing out for a bit? No mat - no problem. The sticky yoga mat we've all grown to know and love didn't even exist before the 1980s, which just goes to show that it's not really necessary, after all. No yoga room? Find an open space near a window and stretch your heart out. Plus - if you close your eyes no-one can see you anyway (right?)
- Charge your electronics the night before - and pack the chargers in your carryon. Again, common sense: now I just have to take my own advice next time.
- Load up on your favorite genres of entertainment. Download a slew of podcasts, create a soothing playlist, find a new book (or audiobook) to dive into or stock up on your favorite TV show (Netflix even has that nifty offline feature now). Sometimes escaping into an alternate reality makes this reality just a little bit more bearable - especially whilst on a plane.
- Enjoy. It's the holidays. Your family loves you - regardless of the weird ways in which they choose to demonstrate their love. Just breathe, you got this.