Ah, the holiday season. Full of cozy nights in, crackling fires, heart-warming family time… all prefaced by hideous, soul-sucking, happiness-depleting travel. Whether you’re battling icy roads, packed security lines, or unexpected delays (and then unexpected delays on top of those unexpected delays and omg will you ever get out of this airport???), holiday travel can get a little dicey and a lot annoying.
To save your sanity (you’re going to need that for family time), we’ve compiled a list of our favorite tips for journeying during the dreaded and heralded months of November and December. Safe travels, everyone.
1. Caffeinate Up
Have you ever seen the inside of an airport at 4am? It’s a deserted wasteland bereft of coffee, the only sign of life a handful of weary, semi-unconscious travelers. Early morning or red-eye flights are my worst nightmare — I cannot sleep on planes, how do people do this?? — and I avoid them like the plague. But during crunched holiday times, a 6am flight might be the only feasible option that doesn’t cost a million dollars or have six layovers.
In this dire scenario, I need caffeine on hand at all times — god forbid I miss my flight because I’ve fallen asleep next to the gate — and so far airports have been resistant to my all-coffee-shops-open-at-all-hours proposition (rude). Which is why it’s nice to have AWAKE chocolate on hand because each bite-sized (read: small enough to fit in your carry-on) piece has the same amount of caffeine as half a cup of coffee. Perfect for times when the airport coffee shops are closed or so full you’ll definitely miss your flight if you try to attempt the line — which is basically all the time.
Bonus: if you’re driving this holiday season, stash some AWAKE in your bag because you might get stuck with a crabby driver who refuses to pull over for a caffeine stop because he *insists* on arriving to your grandparent’s house at *exactly* 11:15 pm, like a crazy person and yes, I’m speaking from personal experience how could you tell.
2. Pack your tote with our no-fail list of essentials:
Holiday travel is defined by delays — bad weather, too many people crammed into one tiny airport security line, a delay for NO REASON AT ALL WUT — so it will behoove you to prepare beforehand with all the essentials on hand:
- iPhone charger (bring extras!)
- Headphones (ditto)
- iPad / Tablet
- A good book (check out this list for inspiration)
- Bite-sized snacks
- Lip balm
- Hydrating spray
- Hand cream
- Facial wipes
- Oversized scarf
- Cozy socks
- Eye mask
Pro tip: be sure to pre-download a few podcasts, Spotify playlists (like this one), movies, etc. before you arrive so you’re not at the mercy of airport wifi. Same goes if you’re traveling by car, as that Universe WifiTM hasn’t been invented yet (damn).
Check out our full list of travel essentials — including our luggage and airport-style picks — in our Travel Essentials Handbook.
3. Pre-package your gifts and mail them to your destination before you travel
It can really take some of the ~special~ out of it when you produce a gift for someone that’s been crumpled in your suitcase for half a day or more. Plus I don’t even want to think about the airport losing that luggage — what holiday nightmares are made of. Avoid the stress and hassle of last-minute present jamming by mailing your gifts to your destination ahead of time. A little planning will save you major headaches — because going to the airport is bad enough already.
4. Utilize all the resources at your disposal
Holiday travel? There’s an app for that — or really about 10 gazillion apps for that. If you’re driving, Waze is your new best friend for finding the fastest route (plus alerts when cops are nearby so you can slow the heck down) so your long holiday drives are more bearable. I also really like Hopper, an app that alerts you when your flight is at its cheapest so you know you’re buying at the right time — essential for inflated holiday prices. And if your flight was delayed, canceled, or overbooked, try AirHelp to see if you’re entitled to any compensation — a SERIOUS boon during holiday shopping season. This is a great list of more travel-focused apps to help your journey run smoother.
5. Invest in travel organization and bring backups of EVERYTHING
I am convinced that headphones, charging cords, and socks fall into the upside down of the suitcase world every time I turn away. I *shudder* to think how much $$ I’ve spent on crappy airport headphones or an extra charging cable because mine is nowhere to be found WHERE DO THEY GO WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS GONE?? Don’t fall victim to the “it’s somewhere in my purse” misery by investing in travel organizers — for your carry-on bags, purse, and suitcase and stashing extras where you can. That way when the person next to you on your four-hour flight starts audibly snoring, you can avoid the manic “oh god please let me have brought those headphones” search.
6. Give yourself extra (extra, extra) time
There is nothing like the hideous feeling of realizing you are Going To Be Late. The anxiety is what I imagine having a mild heart attack feels like — and it only gets worse as you get closer (and later) to your destination.
Even if you think you’ve given yourself enough time, add a half hour (or an hour, why antagonize yourself??) to that because the holidays mean the busiest travel days of the year and everyone is stressed out to the nth degree by family craziness — not a party you want to be late to.
7. Schedule post-travel self-care (and don’t skimp!)
Even the easiest, breeziest of travel days can take it out of you — and I sincerely doubt you’re having one of your easiest, breeziest travel days in November or December (if only). Despite packed family schedules and commitments, be sure to allot yourself some time to decompress — whether it’s zoning out alone in front of Netflix, popping on a face mask, taking a quick nap. You should never feel bad or guilty about taking time for yourself — especially during the holidays when tensions and stress are running in the red zone. YOU DESERVE THIS.
How do you manage holiday travel? Tell us in the comments below!
This post was in partnership with AWAKE Chocolate, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.