“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

The holiday season is the heaviest travel time of the year. Driving or flying is stressful enough without adding to it. But there are situations you just can’t predict or control when you travel. Delayed flights, traffic jams and lost luggage can make even the calmest person get stressed out. What you can control is planning as much as possible and your response to travel glitches.

Here are five ways you can exert control over your holiday travel to ensure you arrive with your inner peace intact.

1. Have a travel plan…

The more organized you are for a trip, the better. If you have experienced a disorganized trip you probably have had some travel disasters. One of the best ways to organize a trip is using a travel app, like Travel Tracker. You can keep track of flights, hotels and all of your travel plans. It also includes a customizable packing list, too. You can easily begin your packing list while waiting in an office. There are also reminder lists on this travel app that will help you for longer holiday trips.

Some people prefer to write down a packing list. You can make a packing folder that includes all important documents and lists. Your packing list is something you can start while watching your favorite show at night. Begin by listing self-care and hygiene items. Then list what clothing you will need for one day for each person. This will give you a beginning packing list.

If you are driving, make sure the oil is changed and tires are properly pumped up on the car. Checking out the health of your car can save gas and possibly prevent breakdowns or accidents. Make sure your emergency roadside kit is up to date and ready in your trunk.

2. When it comes to packing…

Green floral and brown luggage bag in a fieldPacking lightly is more important than ever with strict luggage weight rules and baggage fees. Over-stuffing a bag can be a problem for a couple of reasons. If you are flying, it can delay the scan of a carry-on bag.

Bulky, heavy luggage is also difficult to lug around and can cause strain on your shoulders and back. Plus, everything is sure to be wrinkled. Most people over pack items just in case they need them at their destinations. Planning ahead of time and being as realistic as possible about what you need can reduce your stress.

There are a few tips that you can use for stress-free packing:

  • Roll your jeans and tee shirts. This technique will create more space and prevent wrinkled clothes.
  • Find the fine line between over packing and smart packing. Use every nook and cranny of your suitcase. Pack socks in your shoes. Use plastic bags for undergarments and anything that can leak.
  • Are you staying in a hotel? Hotels usually have hairdryers, irons, and other amenities that you don’t have to pack. Check what your hotel offers before you leave.

3. Keeping boredom at bay…

There’s nothing that makes travel seem endless like boredom. It’s essential to have something on hand to pass the time. Purchasing books or other items ahead of time will save you money. Loading up your MP3 player is a great way to pass the time and get caught up on audio books or podcasts. Add relaxation technique audios to nip stress in the bud.

If you are traveling with children, find safe, inexpensive items from dollar stores to keep kids entertained. Also, find games that require no pieces, such as “I Spy” or finding as many license plates from as many states as possible when traveling by car.

4. Keep your energy up…

Drink water on trips, since caffeine dehydrates your body and ultimately causes you to feel tired. Drinking water helps more to keep you alert in the long run. Not drinking much water on a trip to prevent stops will cause fatigue and other health issues. Keep hydrated and you’ll notice difference in your energy and focus.

Buying snacks at the convenience store can be both unhealthy and expensive. Pack fruit you can easily eat when traveling in the car. Make sure some of the food you pack doesn’t require a cooler. Dried fruit, nuts, trail mix can be healthy alternatives to chips or other snacks. You can pack energy bars when flying to avoid high-priced airport goodies.

5.Finally, allow extra time for everything…

From the time you start planning right up until you are ready to leave, procrastination can rear its ugly head when getting ready for trips. It’s easy to think “I have plenty of time” to do this or that. That very thought is a big red flag to get moving on planning for your trip.

Also give yourself extra time at the airport, even up to 2-3 hours, depending on the city and destination. This will avoid that last-minute travel madness.

At the end of the day, remember what your trip is all about.

You made a decision to travel for a reason. Keep in mind why you are making this trip. It will outweigh a very long drive or flight, aggravations and pushy people you meet along the way. Sharing the holiday with loved ones can help offset any hassles along the way.

This post is adapted from my upcoming book “Stress Relief Holiday Guide: How to create peace and happiness during the holiday season,” available online November 19, 2013.

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