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Lifestyle

Christmas travel checklist

It’s that time of year when many of us are heading off for a winter get-away, or to visit friends and family.

While you may not be able to avoid traffic jams or transport delays, a little forward thinking will help you glide into the holiday season with far less stress.

1. Plan ahead

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number and variety of tasks to tackle, it’s never too soon to start planning. A to-do list could help you feel in control.

To stay organised, keep your lists in one place. If you like old-fashioned pen and paper, use a notebook with different pages for shopping lists, travel plans, etc.

Why not try something more tech-savvy? You can compile an Excel spreadsheet or download a productivity app such as Remember the Milk that you can use on your phone or tablet.

2. Travel plans

Avoid last-minute stress by checking the expiry dates of important travel documents such as passports. If you’re travelling within Europe, you can apply for, or renew, your EHIC card here

Travelling somewhere new can heighten anxiety so do your research and make arrangements well in advance. If you’re travelling with friends or family, it makes sense to discuss the route ahead of the trip. This can help to avoid stressful differences of opinion. Download maps and check directions so that you can estimate journey times.

Take advantage of early-bird ticket offers if you’re booking for Christmas 2019.

Rail companies often plan engineering works for the quieter periods between Christmas and New Year. Use National Rail to find out when works are planned. Book seats wherever you can.

If you’re flying, you can download your airline’s app. On there will be flight information, including any delays. Digital boarding passes can reduce a lot of stress as well – no need to print anything out.

If you intend to drive, get organised by decluttering the boot, and checking the water, oil and tyres. Benenden Health members can enjoy 10% off all in store purchases at Halfords so make the most of it when getting your car ready for winter. 

3. Prepare tech and entertainment

Whether you’re travelling with teenagers or older relatives, it’s almost essential these days to check wi-fi availability. 

You might also be interested in trying a digital detox over the holidays. However, let everyone know in advance to avoid disappointment and possible disputes.

It can be good to have some entertainment pre-prepared for a long journey. Download films, TV programmes or podcasts so that you’ll have plenty of entertainment options – and don’t forget your headphones. Check you have the right plugs, chargers and adapters for your destination, as well as USB cables.

4. Manage expectations

Despite all the good cheer at this time of the year, many people find it stressful to travel with family over the holidays. This can be due to the expectation that a Christmas getaway has to go perfectly. Naturally, an expectation this high can cause a lot of stress. A festive getaway is important to many families. But, realistically it can’t be ‘perfect’ and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Consider how to set realistic expectations for yourself and your fellow travellers. For more advice on how to beat stress, read our article on the subject

Whether you’re travelling with children, teenagers or elderly relatives, communication is key. If you feel something might be going ‘wrong’, communicate this with your family, instead of pretending that everything is fine. Try to take everyone’s needs into consideration and consider how you involve them in decision-making. Think carefully about springing surprises – not everyone enjoys them. 

5. Don’t over-schedule

Plan activities and make preparations but try not to clutter up your schedule with too many commitments. Allow time to unwind and leave space for spontaneity. Don’t worry about how you’re going to spend every moment of the day. 

You can’t be certain of the outcome, but try to stay positive. Remember it’s the season of goodwill and that, while life has it challenges, there’s also plenty to celebrate.

Further information:

The Christmas season isn’t always easy. If you’re a Benenden Health member, you can access our Mental Health Helpline 24/7. Whether you're suffering from anxiety, depression, bereavement or relationship problems, we can make sure you don’t have to handle it alone by providing access to an experienced therapist.