Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

A Less Stressful Holiday Travel

Nathan Cabello - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  It’s about that time of year for gift-giving, family-reunions and holiday cheer. And there’s the holiday travel, too. It’s a merry time, yes – but can be stressful too.


Long lines are everywhere: at stores, at restaurants etc. There’s heavy traffic on the streets and dense crowds in almost all public places. Many people easily lose their tempers.

At transport terminals, travelers have short fuses. Many people would cancel their holiday travel plans all together to avoid stress. Too bad, because the holidays are such an opportunity for going somewhere because people do have the window of time to do it.

Trouble is, the holidays come for everyone all at the same time. So it’s a time of concentrated migrating, either by land, by sea or by air. It can be very stressful when hordes of people try to outdo one another to get to their destinations quickly.

Many travelers are willing to spend extra to ease the inconvenience of holiday travel even by a bit. But that’s always a surefire solution. Jordi Lippe-McGraw, in an article at www.today.com, gathers sensible ideas from experts on how to make a holiday trip less of a hassle and a little more enjoyable.

1. Fit it all into a carry-on. The good news is that the rate of mishandled luggage has decreased significantly these past years. But lost luggage still happens, and the busy holiday travel season means there are more chances for bags to go astray.

“The only surefire way to avoid lost luggage is to stick to a carry-on and a personal item,” says Christine Sarkis, Senior Editor at SmarterTravel.com. “But if you need to check in bags, buy a brightly colored suitcase that stands out, and take a photo of it that you can show to the airline in case it gets lost. Put a copy of your itinerary and your destination address inside each checked in piece of luggage so that they can be forwarded to your hotel easily.”

“And if you’re really worried about your bags being lost, consider shipping it ahead to your destination, then travel light through the airport.”

2. Get to the airport early. This one may sound like a no-brainer, but the problems that can arise when you cut it too close abound, from overbooked flights to long lines to missed connecting flights.

“Many airports are increasing security screenings these days, so you’ll want to budget more time than usual to get through the process,” Sarkis advises.

Those who must make a connecting flight should plan their itinerary allowing for plenty of time between flights. “It’s better to wait an hour or so extra rather than missing your flight,” George Hobica, founder and president of Airfarewatchdog says. “It’s stressful arriving at the airport minutes before the gate closes!”

3. Wash your hands. No one wants to arrive home for the holidays with a cold or a flu, but travel puts passengers in close contact with other sick passengers and bacteria-coated surfaces.

“At the airport, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching handrails, security screening bins, touchscreen kiosks and other high-touch zones,” Sarkis suggests. “Once you’re on your flight, wipe down your tray table and arm rests with a bleach wipe, don’t use the seat-back pocket if you can help it, and wash your hands twice as well as usual after using the airplane bathrooms.”

Off the plane, wipe down door handles, TV remotes and light switches in hotel rooms – and avoid water fountains which tend to be “dirtier than public toilets,” Sarkis stresses.

4. Take the comforts of home with you. “Traveling is stressful, so bring tools to nurture yourself,” suggests Kathleen Hall, Founder and CEO of The Stress Institute and Mindful Living Network.

“Pack your favorite blanket, pillow and soundproof earphones,” she says. “Download movies, books, or material you enjoy on your tech device, like guided imagery or meditations from the app store.”

Hall also encourages travelers to bone up on stress management practices beforehand. “Surrender to your holiday travel as a classroom, not a prison,” she adds. To really unwind, check to see if your airport has a spa facility or, if you’re really lucky, napping accommodations.

5. Eat smartly. Overindulging goes hand-in-hand with the holidays. Large family meals and eating on-the-go can wreak havoc on anyone’s diet and make one feel even more stressed out.

“The healthiest option is always to bring your own travel snacks,” said chef Robert Irvine. “Prepare individual servings of dried fruit; be sure to follow the serving size on the label. For car travel, bring a cooler with fresh fruit that’s easy to pack, such as apples, bananas or grapes. Avoid salty snacks, which dehydrate you in the already dry cabin air. Also beware of high-sugar, high-fat treats that pack the equivalent of a meal, but leave you feeling unsatisfied.”

Drinking plenty of water is also key – not only can dehydration make one sluggish and irritable, but it weakens the immune system as well.

In addition to healthy snacking, Irvine notes that it’s important to stay on track with exercising. “When you are stuck at an airport, exercise,” adds Hall. “Walk up and down the concourses and get walking. This produces endorphins, calming hormones in the brain. You can do yoga stretches, tai chi or chi gong. These are incredible tools for reducing stress while traveling.”

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