Over the river and through the woods: Holiday travel tips

Traveling can be exhausting! I flew to California for a nutrition conference last month. Once there, I enjoyed the palm trees, sunshine, and, of course, the lectures I attended, but the trip itself was less than amazing. Shuttle bus fumes, heavy luggage (I know nothing about traveling light), crowds, security—these are all necessary evils while traveling by plane. And a road trip poses challenges of its own. Whatever your mode of transportation, here’s how to keep sane and strong when you’re going over the river and through the woods. Below are my tips on traveling without unraveling.

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  1. Be prepared. Yup, the Boy Scouts have it right. Pre-trip prep is key. You want to start your trip on the best foot. Think like a marathoner who keeps a good routine the week of his race, and the night before, too! Do your best to keep a normal schedule of eating, sleeping, and exercise ahead of time. And avoid stressful last-minute packing. I used to stay up to the wee hours of the morning, allowing for only one or two hours of shut-eye before waking for the next day’s flight. I used to tell myself “Oh, you can sleep on the plane” but then I never actually did (even if I had a U-shaped pillow!) To avoid pulling an all-nighter, I now pull my suitcase down from the attic about a week ahead of time and as I fold laundry, I put it in the suitcase instead of my dresser. Before you know it, I’m practically packed, with time to spare!
  1. travelers walkingMove it! On Everest, they say that you start to die the minute you stop moving. Make this your philosophy for living and traveling, too! At the airport, take the stairs in lieu of the moving walkway and escalator. When driving, take pit stops with a purpose. I used to pride myself in going for hours and hours without stopping, with the end goal of arriving at the destination as quickly as possible. Now I know that it’s not good for the body to be in one position for too long, so I make stops, even if it means I get to point B a little later than originally planned. Stops give our bodies a chance to stretch and get the blood circulating again, and the fresh air makes us more alert once we get back behind the wheel. If you have small children in tow, you will need to stop frequently anyway. Embrace it! Make it even more fun by bringing squirt guns, a Frisbee, jump rope or football.

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  1. Take a stand! The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. I see a parallel in sitting. Excessive sitting has been linked with all sorts of problems: mental health issues, heart disease and even early death. So the last thing you should do is sit in the waiting area, when sitting is going to be required for the duration of most flights. Stand while waiting, since there is room and time to do so. My dad is over 80 years old and when he visits our home, while most of us are sitting around the living room, he remains on his feet. It keeps him engaged in our conversation and ready to break into a dance should the occasion arise. Did I mention that he is as sharp as a tack? Standing is key to mental and physical wellness. Take this hint and you may just be the last one standing!
  1. working out with strangerStep up. If you want to take your standing to the next level, do some light stretching or even strength training (if you dare.) You might get a few strange looks, but you might also inspire someone to join you!
  1. Pack provisions. At all costs, avoid that I’m-famished-must-eat-now-oh-well-guess-I’ll-settle-for-Charlie’s-chicken-and-hope-for-the-best moment. No time for packing anything besides your suitcase? Grab an apple or orange before you leave the house. If you think ahead, make baggies of nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky, what have you. Anything you pack will spare you the expense of airport prices, in addition to nourishing you beyond what a bag of chips can offer.

I hope these tips help you make the most of the time on route to your destination. Once you get there, be fully present. Time with family and friends is one of the best Christmas gifts you can share. Keep that objective in mind. It just might help you manage the trip back home!

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