As the festive season rolls around, we answer the call to homecoming. I adore the cozy days spent fireside, sipping cinnamon dusted hot chocolates and all the later glitz and glamour of those champagne evenings. But before we get to the celebrations, we first have to get there period. Traveling this time of year is fraught with weather delays, crying babies, bundling up only to break into sweat upon going inside, winter skin struggles and the dreaded public transport plague. As an expat, every December like clockwork I board buses, trains, taxis and planes to get myself home. Without further ado I’m sharing some ways to reduce travel stress during this most wonderful time of the year.
The Holy Grail that is the Travel Day
I cannot recommend more giving yourself as much time as possible to make the trip home. I often fly out of a city other than the one I live in and I live to give myself a day or two to get there early, see the sights and properly get myself in the festive mindset after those December deadlines. Spending the night in the city in question helps to break up the traveling into more manageable parts, rather than a marathon ‘Do or Die’. This way you can step onto the plane or train, fresh faced and with a decent meal in your belly, nothing is so depressing as the bloat resulting from the carb overload of on-board dining.
Whether you have a city stay beforehand or go straight from your home, try to arrange for a bit of luxury before it’s once more unto the breach. Recently when flying back for Thanksgiving I received an Elemis facial from Pure Spa & Beauty in Edinburgh. I’ve been lucky enough to partner with Treatwell over the past few months, using their app to receive complimentary skincare and beauty treatments. Aside from the still giddy feeling of being treated to a mini spa trip once a month, what I’ve most loved about the app is that it lets me find places and book on the go. Stress free organization, OH BABY! I left the appointment glowing, ready for a good night’s rest and the next day’s jet setting.
Flying West- Don’t Try to Rest, Flying East- Try to Sleep
Think I have a latent career as a jingle writer? Whether you found it cringe worthy or not this method has worked for me over the past four years that I’ve traveled between Europe and the United States. Even a few hours’ sleep can help stave off zombie effects when traveling east. When I’m states bound, I take the opportunity to catch up on the films I’ve missed. If my eyes start to hurt from too much screen time, I listen to music or read. Everyone’s travel style and sleep cycles work differently but for me this is key to getting over jet lag quickly. There’s only so much that vats of coffee can accomplish.
What to Wear
I am genetically incapable of wearing sweatpants in public, unless I am on the direct route to or from the gym. I’ve traveled internationally since the tender age of two (military kid here) and so aside from toddler aged onesies, I’ve always dressed in proper clothing. My first trip to Europe was with my impeccably stylish and classy grandparents and they forever taught me how to travel well. That said, I’m not advocating that we all need to be in haute couture and stilettos. Comfort is key to reducing stress and so I think an outfit of stretch denim, or even discreet leggings, paired with a cashmere jumper and a classic trench coat, scarf and smart trainers or boots checks all the boxes. You can ditch these layers as need be to avoid the horror of boob sweat while standing in the security queue. Neat makeup and hair make a difference as well, especially when you’re angling for a last-minute upgrade (alas regular business class traveler I am not).
Light Packing is Your Friend
I am lucky enough that in a pinch I can steal clothing from my sisters or mother at most family events. So, there’s really no excuse for me to overpack… and yet. This recent Thanksgiving is the only occasion where I’ve made a transatlantic trip with, drumroll please, ONLY A CARRY ON! Game changer. I got to the airport a breezy two hours early, sped through security in a record topping three minutes, and spent the rest of my wait sipping on a dirty chai latte. The last thing I want to do after a 6-hour flight is wait at the luggage carousel and low and behold I didn’t have to this trip! It was glorious. I am trying to pack the absolute minimum from now on (so she says, time will tell if this falls flat like too many resolutions) or at least ensure that I’ve rolled my socks and packed my case like a jigsaw. Hold fast as I walk through duty free, do not pass go, do not spend 200 dollars because ‘it’s such a good deal’. You can do this woman.
To all my festive jetsetters, I hope you found this humorous and/or helpful. Safe and hopefully low stress travels!