Soon enough we will be boarding planes, trains and automobiles, heading off to our assorted holiday destinations. And with that comes stress, overeating and pushing our way through crowds which all take a toll on our health. Holiday travel is one of the most stressful things we encounter every year as well as dealing with family members and mingling with all sorts of people either at parties, at work or at the mall. Be sure to use this cheat sheet and easy tips to keep your holiday travel and gatherings healthy and stress free!
Check out these tips to keep healthy and sane this holiday travel season:
- Pack patience! Now that the TSA has added heightened security measures and airlines have tacked on more fees, flying can be a beast. Do your best to give yourself enough time to get through the lines and know that it’s all just part of the experience.
- Pack good attitude! Nothing spoils a holiday trip or exacerbates any problems more then a sour disposition. Do your best to make the most of the situation and enjoy the season because it only comes once a year. You never know what great memories you will make if you’re willing to enjoy the holiday!
- Eat before you leave the house. You should always leave with a full tummy or you will be tempted to nosh on whatever is convenient. And that means expensive junk food that’s bad for you and the trash cans!
- Know before you go. Know which airports you will be flying in and out of, laying over at, etc. Most have websites that show what dining establishments can be found in each terminal. For instance, I know that the Delta terminal at LAX has a Starbucks (for my soy latte) and a CPK express where I can grab a salad or soup for the flight. Most international hubs have chain restaurants or familiar fast food counters where you can order up a healthy meal for your in flight pleasure. From a veggie salad or sandwich at Quiznos to a black Bean Burger at Chili’s To Go, there are ways to not give in to bags of pretzels and pounds of danishes to keep you from passing out on your flight. The World Travel Guide site will lead you to each city’s airport web site.
- Stay Hydrated. Seeing as how we cannot bring our own beverages from home anymore, the first purchase to make upon entering your gate is a big bottle of water. Or better yet, pack your favorite glass or BPA-free bottle in your carry on bag and fill it at the airport. This way you save money and you aren’t drinking unhealthy water or contributing to landfill waste. Above all else, staying hydrated during air travel is key to cutting down on fatigue and fighting off the munchies!
- Take your vitamins & eat your veggies. If you’re running around and not able to eat balanced meals on your travel day, be sure to pack water soluble vitamin packets. In addition, there are many powdered veggie drinks that you can down and get your recommended servings of veggies a day to keep your immune system top notch when sucking in recycled air. My favorite brand for both is To Go Brands Go Greens and Vitamin C packs.
- Stay away from caffeine. Drinking caffeinated beverages on or before a flight will keep you from relaxing on the plane. In addition, it messes with your insulin levels and can cause you to overeat.
- Don’t drink alcohol in flight. Alcoholic beverages have double the effect in the air as they do on the ground, so you’re definitely gonna feel crappy when you get to your destination. If you need to relax, grab some all natural melatonin to help you sleep along with some soothing tunes.
- Pack snacks. Stock up on healthy bars, nuts and even sandwiches. Pack your carry-on with your own goodies so you aren’t spending money at the terminal on expensive, crappy food to be sure and have something on hand when hunger strikes.
- Sleep well the night before travel. That’s the toughest with the anticipation and stress that comes with flying during the holidays, but it can be done. And if not, invest in a flight pillow, eye mask, earplugs or noise reducing headphones and a blanket. Bring all the comforts of home with you to make your catching ZZZs in the air easier.
- Plan ahead!. Know where you’re going directly after you pick up your bags at your destination. Home, hotel, family’s house, wherever – map out what is close by in case you need to pick up a snack or a full blown meal so you don’t keel over and start your vacation on a bad foot.
As far as getting through the stressful holidays without any familial or friend tension, here are some good rule of thumb tips for holiday gatherings that will keep the peace during this festive season:
- While conversation is a must, and can be very enjoyable, over the holiday dinner table, specific topics should not be discussed. While no one likes to dinner over awkward or superficial chatter, no one likes a meal to turn ugly. Obviously the biggies to stay away from are politics, religion and sex (unless of course your group enjoys those topics). For the most part, not everyone will agree on such topics and it’s best to leave them alone. In fact, this includes veganism. The holiday table is not a place to stand on your soapbox unless it has been asked of you. In addition, it is not a place for attack on someone who is different. If a topic comes up that you are uncomfortable with, politely let them know that you do not wish to discuss that particular topic at that time. Shut it down with a smile and offer up a new topic.
- Never assume that a host will be able to provide everything you need. Always be prepared. It is impossible to make everyone happy and sometimes folks are left out of certain things. If you have special dietary needs, be sure to let your host know ahead of time and offer to bring a dish that you can eat and share with the group. Or to be extra safe, eat before you got to the dinner so that you aren’t left starving during the meal. The holidays are about enjoying the company of others so do your best to focus on that instead of what you can and can’t eat.
- If you are hosting a meal, be mindful of others. In fact, the best way to have a happy gathering is to share the experience. Potluck dinners are the best way to include everyone and the onus doesn’t fall on you to feed a bunch of folks who may or may not like your taste in food.
- If you aren’t feeling well or are in a particularly foul mood, admit it. Do what you can to handle your emotions before heading to a gathering. It’s not healthy for you or the other guests if you aren’t up for it or worse, taking it out on them. If you can pull through and try to have a good time, great. Otherwise, we all have bad days so do what you need to do to sort it out because nothing ruins your holiday and others like a foul mood.
- Nobody’s perfect – try to plan ahead. I know this sounds like common sense, but it’s really important to remember. If you want to have people over and you’re working, don’t go crazy trying to make everything – get some food at the deli or the gourmet shop. A lot of times, people don’t mind bringing a salad or dessert. The point is to get together and celebrate with people, rather than trying to make it perfect.
- Traditions can be changed. This might be hard for people, but there are a lot of people who actually dread the holidays, and some of that may be due to the way they’re celebrated. Maybe you don’t have to always be at Great Aunt Sue’s house, even though she’s hosted the holiday for years. Think of these things as being fluid and when they’re outmoded or outdated, come up with some new ones.
- Don’t let the details take over. It’s difficult to find the time to get everything done during the holidays, but it’s the people who are really important to you and those who take care of you, that you must remember. Try not to be so overwhelmed doing things like writing out Christmas cards that you can’t talk to your loved ones. Don’t brush people off because of the holiday madness.
- Always thank people. Whether it’s in writing or in person, you must put gratitude at the top. There’s never an excuse for not thanking someone for an invite or gift.
Remember that the holidays are about connection with others, understanding and love. The best rule, year round, is to treat others how you like to be treated, and there is no exception to that rule, especially over the holidays ; )
Also, This Thanksgiving, do your best to practice the act of gratitude, regardless of who you are with or where you happen to be this holiday. While the feast seems to take center stage next to football, parades and crazy black Friday shopping, the true meaning of this holiday is to give thanks so make sure that you don’t forget to do so this year!