From The Blog

Stress Free Holiday Travel

Let’s face it, in terms of things in life you’d like to avoid, being stuck in a traffic jam most likely rates pretty high on your list. Additionally, when you consider the idea of being stuck in a massive traffic jam during the holiday season, I believe you’ll agree with me that without a doubt being jammed like that is no fun.

Did you know that according to a recent Newsweek magazine article, Americans now spend an average of 42 hours per year stuck in traffic? Did you know that 42 hours stuck in traffic roughly translates into a week of vacation time? Did you know that traffic jams cause some people to become so frustrated that it raises their blood pressure, and can easily put them into a “bad mood?” This can trigger a “domino effect” of bad outcomes during their day.

According to a recent Texas Institute of Transportation report, highway congestion costs the American economy approximately 160 Billion dollars per year in lost productivity, additional wear and tear on cars and trucks, and from unnecessary gas burned while stuck in jammed traffic.

So, since the holiday period can literally exasperate traffic congestion, what can you do to lessen your stress so that you increase the odds in your favor of arriving at your destination safely and stress free? Since the point of traveling during the holidays is to have fun with family and friends, here are some tips you can use to minimize your travel stress.

First, ask yourself whether this trip is really necessary right now? If not, then planning to take that trip during an off peak period will automatically lower your stress and can make traveling a breeze.

Second, if you absolutely must travel during the peak holiday period, consider leaving earlier or later than the herd. For example, departing 3-4 hours before dawn can make a world of difference. Having that type of head start helps you avoid the slow downs that occur from “rubbernecking” and congestion merges.

Third, lay out your trip in detail in advance. This is a smart thing to do since it allows you to easily measure your progress and can help boost your mood as you hit the various mileage markers. Consider making your rest stops as efficient as possible: stop for gas, bathroom breaks and food all at the same time.

Fourth, if you are traveling with young children, make sure you have games, videos or other plans to keep them fully entertained. There are few things worse than taking a long drive to Disney World and in the back seat you repeatedly hear “He’s bothering me!” or “Stop, she’s bothering me!” because you forgot to consider what young children need on a trip to stay “occupied.”

Fifth, consider taking along your favorite CDs and MP 3s in order to make your ride more enjoyable. Many people rely on being able to find suitable radio stations along the way but you can insure that you and your family will have more fun by being able to listen to soothing sounds you all can enjoy. This includes doing a Sing-A-Long.

Sixth, consider stretching at each rest stop you take. Recent studies indicate that long periods of sitting significantly reduces blood-flows to your thighs, legs and feet. Sitting for long periods can also result in numbness in your legs or feet so remember to stretch often!

Seven, be sure to have your car checked and serviced by your mechanic particularly if you’re taking a longer trip. We’ve all seen cars broken down on the side of the road with busted hoses, etc. Advance planning allows you to skip those types of foreseeable events.

Finally, the most important thing you can do to reduce your stress while driving during the peak holiday season is to modify your attitude to one of “going with the flow.” When you reframe your mental terrain in this way you begin to shift the locus of control in your favor. Numerous studies demonstrate that when we feel in control of a situation, we’re less likely to get angry or feel helpless. By agreeing to laugh often and not take yourself too seriously, you can remain calm and arrive at your destination stress free and relaxed. Most likely, your family and friends will take note and thank you!