Nothing can induce panic like the thought of crowded airport lines, traffic jams on the highway, and making sure you packed everything you will need to have a magical trip. But all the planning in the world cannot prevent those little unexpected annoyances from popping up and creating havoc on your travel plans. The solution to keeping your cool when trouble strikes, may surprise you. It's not automated boarding passes or scheduling alerts on your phone. No — the one secret to stress-free holiday travel is mindfulness.
There is no doubt that planning ahead is good preparedness — that is an tried and true travel tip that eliminates many problems. But to keep the stress at bay when traveling, try applying some basic principals of mindfulness to stay calm and work through any code red situation. Because you don't want to have a complete meltdown when you realize you forgot to pack your phone charger and your battery life is on 10 percent.
Keeping your stress in check is not just a more pleasant way to make it through holiday travel, it's important to your overall health. Think of these ideas as a small bag of tricks that you won't have check when you board the plane.
1. Keep It Simple
When it comes to traveling, more complicated means more stressful. Try to simplify your trip by streamlining your plans, packing as little as possible, and keeping your belongings organized. If you are traveling to visit friends and family, try organizing one or two events where you can see multiple people, rather than individual meet-ups. Attempting to jam in all that socializing will have you running from place to place and can leave you worn down.
Don't worry about packing every single odd and end you use at home. If you find yourself in need of something you left at home, chances are that where ever you are traveling to will have a store for you to pick up a replacement. Vacations are meant to be enjoyed, and keeping things simple will make you feel lighter and open you up to take in the experience.
2. Try Mini-Meditation
You may not have time to go deep into a meditate state when airport security lines are in a dead stand still, your mind racing to do the math on how much time you have before your plane takes off. But no matter where you are, you can try what Whole Living has dubbed, a mini-meditation.
"Memorize a three-to-five-word phrase, a mantra, that will bring you back to center when things get rough, such as 'I am strong or 'Spirit will guide me,'" the site suggested. "Also, keep a peaceful image mentally on hand (a beach scene, a quiet forest) to call up in stressful moments." Don't worry about being embarrassed, no one even has to know you are doing this. Just repeat the calming phrase in your head and remember to breath.
It's no secret that exercise helps lower stress, and Mayo Clinic reminds us that even a small amount of exercise can have big benefits. To keep your stress low and feel-good endorphins high, work exercise into your travel routine. It doesn't need to be fancy, any type of movement will do the trick. If you can make the time, exercise is a great way to start your travel day, setting you up to better handle stress from the start.
4. Make It Fun
Waiting in long lines and dealing with grumpy strangers doesn't sound like conventional fun, so find little ways to make your travel experience a little more enjoyable. My friend and I used to play a game when traveling, where we would pick a person out of the crowd and create a brief backstory about them. It was like people watching on steroids. And it was a ton of fun. The game made all the hours of sitting and waiting go by fast and gave us hundreds of belly laughs.
5. Be Grateful
Although traveling can be super stressful, at the end of the day we should be grateful that we even have the opportunity to take a trip. Many don't enjoy that same privilege. In fact, an article on Forbes reported that gratitude can improve your life in more ways than one. Not only will it help keep your stress in perspective, gratitude can give you more empathy for your fellow travelers (even the load-mouthed guy who won't stop complaining about the in-flight snack selection).
Travel doesn't have to be dripping with anxiety. Use these mindful tips to get you through the any stressful situation, because vacation are meant to make you happy.