Are we there yet?

If you are travelling to see family this festive season, between packing and unpacking, family, friends, in-laws, fussy eaters, fussy sleepers and fussy passengers – travelling can be challenging.

While there’s no place like home for the holidays – whether it’s your family home, your own home or a friend’s, there’s no denying that the journey to get there can be stressful.

While the cheery Christmas lights don’t do much for the short fuses that can come with travelling during the holidays, a little planning can help get you there stress-free, with your Christmas Spirit still alive (and your kids hopefully not kicking).

1. Go early

If you’re driving, the earlier you leave, the less likely you are to get stuck in a less-than-jolly traffic jam. Pop on the Christmas music and have a sing-a-long (and some snacks) to get you through the journey. Also, getting en route early avoids the chance of any stressful rushing. Start as you mean to go on – calmly.

2. Make a list

While it may be the 748th list you have had to make this month, make a list of things you absolutely cannot forget to bring with you on the trip and stick it to your front door. That way you literally cannot leave the house without seeing it and being reminded of what you might have forgotten. It may seem excessive, but it’s better than realising 20 minutes away from Granny’s house that you’ve left Peppa Pig at home.

3. Spread cheer

Everybody knows the stress that travelling can cause – whether it is due to a teething baby, a bored toddler or a sick child – we all experience it in some way, so be mindful of others going through the same thing.

Find an opportunity when you’re travelling during the holiday season to spread goodwill and make someone else’s stressful situation a little more bearable. Buy coffee for the person behind you in the queue. Smile at people who look stressed. You have no idea how something so small can change someone’s entire day.

4. Avoid the blues

It is natural for our brains to pull us in millions of directions at this time of year, not giving us a moment to relax or to even enjoy and be in the present moment. The ultimate antidote to this is simply training our brain to focus on the present moment – the here and now. Practice mindfulness if that’s something you find works for you, or self care in any other form that you find useful or makes you feel grounded, like yoga, meditation, light exercise, napping or journalling. While the Christmas season is all about family, friends and loved ones – it’s okay to need time for yourself as well. It can be overwhelming, so take a moment to regroup whenever you need to.

5. Packing

Our one piece of packing advice to treasure is this: pack in outfits. Lay them out, try them on so you make sure you’ve got all the items you need and pieces that can be worn and re-worn with different items throughout your time away. If all else fails, always make sure to pack your favourite pair of jeans and your favourite cosy sweater. The rest (apart from underwear) you can live without.

6. Bank of books

If you are someone who likes to read, the Christmas holidays are the best time to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and a selection box while your Mum takes over watching Frozen for the 17th time in a row with your little ones. A Kindle is also great for reading while travelling because you don’t have to lug heavy books with you, everything is in one practical, compact spot.