Tis the season to see the world, visit loved ones, and cash in unused vacation days on snowy slopes and sunny beaches. Tis also the season to be crammed onto and into planes, trains, and automobiles with millions of others doing the same. The airports are decked with various splendor and tack, and the air is thick with anticipation and cheer… and stress. Here are 5 thoughts to hold onto while you brave the bustle of holiday travel.
1. Look beyond yourself, and compassion it out.
When you feel the steam of intolerance or indifference rising, compassion it out. The slow person in front of you in security, the desk agent with permafrown, the screaming baby behind you…compassion it out. Take a deep breath and reach for your empathy. Folks who don’t travel often don’t have a routine or a system, and this environment might be really stressful for them. People working in travel are fielding a ton of grump and gruff. Moms have the hardest job already, and now they’re doing it in the mayhem that is mass transit. Babies are babies, and they don’t understand anything, and their ears hurt.
It’s not about you. It’s about all of us, and for some of us, the holidays set the course for an emotional marathon. Some are traveling to see someone they love for the last time. Others are spending their first season without someone dear to them. Almost everyone is on their way to at least one event where they are going to have to talk to people with whom they have nothing in common but DNA strands. Take a breath, muster some patience and understanding, and be the highlight of your interactions. Compassion. It. Out.
2. Be On Top of It
Plan ahead. Mentally walk through your travel day, and be prepared. Start packing 48 hours before, and finish up the night before you leave. Be everyone’s favorite fellow traveler by having your ducks in a row. Wear a jacket with convenient pockets. As soon as you have your boarding pass, whether digital or paper, have it in the same pocket with your passport or ID. When you have to take time to pull your ID out of your wallet and put it back in, you slow us all down, and it has a ripple effect. Don’t wear gobs of jewelry or heavy boots or wearable tech when you go through security. If you aren’t TSA PreCheck (get on that) have your bag of liquids at the top or in an outer pocket of your bag. BE. READY. Eyes up, not on your phone. You’ll live. Place backpacks and luggage handles up/straps-side up on the conveyer belt so you can grab it and go on the other side. We are in this together. Keep it simple, and you will also have the added benefit of less stress.
3. Random Acts of Kindness
If you invest your energy in kindness, you will protect yourself and others from the Scrooge you. Let one more car over. Buy five $5 gift cards to Starbucks (or iTunes or whatever) and randomly hand them out to people who look like they need some cheering up, or to your flight attendant, or to just any random Jane you bump up against. Hold open doors. Lift luggage into overhead bins. Make silly faces at toddlers struggling with patience. Be an elf. Buy someone a drink! Be a joy. Say, “Please.” Say, “Thank you.” Make eye contact with other humans. If the holidays are rough for you, you may find a bit of relief in focusing on kindness, and when it isn’t well-received, see #1.
Music changes your mood, plain and simple. Set up a few playlists with the following themes: Serenity, Energy, Festivity. If you’re feeling some kind of way, medicate with music.
5. Remember self.
This is not to contradict #1, rather to equip you for #1. You put your own oxygen mask on first, and then you care for others. Hydrate; pack healthy snacks; take a long walk if you’re going to be cooped up on a metal bird for hours. Neglect self-care, and you will find yourself on the fast train to your Scroogiest center. The person to receive the brunt of your negativity will be you, leaving dozens, if not hundreds, of glitter-clad casualties along the way, so COMPASSION IT OUT, and start with yourself.
Happy Holidays from The Travel Women! We’re excited to see your adventures in 2018!
Read our interview with Rin and more from The Travel Women Ambassador, Rin Ehlers Sheldon here.
Read next: New York Holiday Gift Guide, Paris Holiday Gift Guide and 8 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Travel