The holidays can be stressful enough without worrying about how to remain organized while traveling. If you're heading home to see your family this winter, the last thing you want to worry about are missing ticket printouts, broken luggage, and the crying baby the next seat over. But of course that can sound easier said than done.
The holidays are the single busiest travel time of the year, so it's no wonder that airports and train stations are pure, cranky chaos. In 2014, 98.6 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, according to PR Manager Julie Hall for AAA. And for Thanksgiving 2015, 46.9 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more. That's a hell of a lot of people heading out on the road, clogging up airports, and waiting for trains. But it's worth it, because family. Or vacation — you know, whatever your holidays consist of.
For the lucky few who get to stay right where they are, all I can say is enjoy your couch and normal heart rate. For the rest of us, heading out into the fray can be quite the stressful experience. Luckily there are ways to travel this holiday season without wanting to scream. All it takes is a little bit of planning.
1. Tap Into Your Organizational Skills
Nothing's worse than the nagging feeling you forgot something. Avoid it by packing well ahead of time, and having a place for everything (consider using a packing list so nothing is left behind). While on the road, always put your phone, money, and camera back in the same place each time, so you never have to guess where anything is. And to make life even easier, you may want to invest in some good luggage, such as a suitcase with four wheels. The next time you're running to the gate with a suitcase wheeling neatly along side you, you'll wonder why you ever had it any other way.
2. Remember: The Fewer Papers, The Better
Don't be that person who's stooped near a wall turning their purse inside out looking for a ticket. Nah, you don't need that kind of stress in your life. Instead, keep your plane or train tickets in Passbook, or a similar app. And opt for keeping all your times and flights organized digitally as well, such as with TripIt. According to Dara Continenza for SmarterTravel, "The days of juggling printouts of flight info, hotel reservations, rental-car confirmations, schedules, maps, and directions is over. With the help of itinerary apps, you can organize all of your itineraries on your smartphone."
3. Remain Zen At All Costs
The thing to remember about all the traffic and people running into you and long lines is that everyone else just wants to get home, too. Avoid hating on everyone, because it'll only make you miserable. Look at the busy airport for what it is — a way to get from one place to another — and don't let slow walkers or mean TSA agents get the best of you.
4. Don't Forget Your Chargers
The last thing you need when pulling out your digital tickets (that you so thoughtfully organized) is a phone that's on it's last legs. You also don't need that thing dying mid-flight when you really just want to listen to music. Make sure you not only bring your chargers with you — to avoid such catastrophes —but that you keep them organized. These Cocoon organizers are a nice way to keep everything tangle-free. According to Continenza, "These flat, lightweight cases fit easily into carry-on bags and prove invaluable on the road. Never again will you spend the first day of your vacation untangling headphone cords and searching for your lost power cord."
5. Bring Along The Comforts Of Home
When you're in the middle of travel chaos, you're going to want some comforts of home. Once you're situated on the plane, take a moment and set up shop so you can have a comfy trip. Bring a blanket, snacks, your laptop, a book, and some music to drown out all the commotion.
6. Consider Dressing Up For The Trip
There once was a time when air travel was considered glamorous. People got dressed up, and it was quite the big event. Now it's all just a mess, with people slapping you in the face with their dirty sweatshirts as they walk down the aisle. Gross. Of course you, too, can wear a dirty sweatshirt if that's what makes you happy. But sometimes wearing a nice outfit can make an otherwise annoying experience feel a little fancier.
Traveling home for the holidays can straight up suck, but it doesn't always have to be that way. Take some time before your trip to organize yourself, and remain calm and comfy the rest of the way home.
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