Words by Carlie Tucker
What happens when you take frequent business travellers and mix them with the rush of holidaymakers that pack airports through the festive season? You've got the recipe for a perfect storm.
It's the stuff that travel stress is made of – long lines, crowded airports and tired travellers trying to get to their final destination as quickly as possible. Add to that the stress of being away from your family and the general wear and tear of frequent flying. You'd be forgiven for finding yourself short on patience.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to help minimise this unnecessary stress. From staying in touch with your family while on the road to finding the right airport transportation, here are some tips on how business travellers can handle the hustle of holiday travel.
Before You Go:
Skip air travel where possible
Before you even face the possibility of an overcrowded airport, think about alternative modes of transport. If it's feasible to take a train, or even drive yourself, this is well worth considering. You'll not only cut out the stress of the airport, you'll have more control over your own schedule, making it easier to plan an early return. Just remember to avoid peak travel times (both on the rails and the road) to further avoid the hustle.
When it comes to travelling well, packing right is a universal tip to help make sure you have a successful time on the road. This is especially true during the holidays. Make sure you streamline everything you need to fit into a carry-on.
You'll get to skip the crowds at the bag check line and baggage carousel. You'll also eliminate the risk of lost luggage, and should you run into any delays, you'll be better equipped to handle it with grace (and a fresh change of clothes if need be).
Speaking of skipping lines, make sure you check-in online as soon as check-in opens. The earlier the better. Taking this simple step allows you to skip the long check-in line when you arrive at the airport, which is a God-send if you're running a little bit late. Checking-in early also often provides better options when it comes to selecting your seat.
Give yourself plenty of time
If you're trying to cut out the stress of travel, the last thing you want is to be running through the airport in a mad dash to catch your flight. It's a given that traffic to the airport is going to be hectic and that lines in the airport are going to be longer. Expect the hustle of holiday travel to cause a few delays and plan accordingly.
If you give yourself plenty of time to get to and make it through the airport, you'll cut out more than 50% of what makes travel during this time such a hassle. Even if you're too generous with your estimations, it's better to have to wait at the gate than being stuck in the security line listening to the final boarding call.
At The Airport:
Take advantage of the lounge
One of the best ways to escape the holiday travel crowd is to duck into the lounge. Open to members only, these airport sanctuaries are always less busy than the terminal. What's better is that they also offer the chance to pull up a comfortable seat, charge your mobile gadgets, catch up on emails and/or grab a meal – all of which is conducive to cutting down on stress while travelling.
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Use your mobile device
Technology has grown into the ultimate distraction, so if you're feeling fed-up while waiting for your flight, pull out your smartphone or tablet for instant access to gaming apps, podcasts, web surfing, e-books, social media and much more. Delve into your favourite online guilty pleasures and the time will fly right by.
A positive attitude is the ultimate weapon against stress, so just remember to smile. Of course, sometimes this is easier said than done, but if you notice the stress levels starting to creep up, take a deep breath. Remember that everyone is in the same boat and no matter what your situation is, it's only temporary. Plus, in a sea of grumpy faces, a smile goes a long way with airline staff and the flight crew.
On The Road:
Stick to your routine
This travel tip has two parts when it comes to the holiday season. Firstly, it's important on any business trip to stick to your regular routine. Whether it's a packing routine or a ritual before bed, upholding usual habits can help you feel more comfortable while travelling.
Secondly, bring in the holiday cheer by keeping up with any seasonal traditions you observe. You may be away from home, but that doesn't mean you have to skip those little things that help you get into the Christmas spirit. Whether it's a specific meal or talking to a specific family member on Christmas Eve, sticking these traditions no matter where you might be can make you feel less homesick.
A great way to maintain balance while you're on the road, especially during the holidays, is to stay connected with your family. With busy schedules to contend with, it can be tricky, but there are steps you can take to make it happen. It may not be tucking the kids in on Christmas Eve or ringing in the New Year with your spouse in person, but it's the next best thing.
Add a little leisure
If you're feeling the pressures of being on the road during the holidays, a great way to unwind is to make sure you schedule a little 'me' time. While you may be kicking goals in your professional life by being on the road, finding a little personal reward can lessen the sting of sacrificing your family time. So, get out to explore. See something new. Grab a unique souvenir for the kids. Or book a spa treatment to rebalance after a year of hard work. You've earned it after all.
Bring the family with you
If you simply can't face the trials of being away from your family during the holidays, plan ahead and take everyone with you! A business trip can effortlessly lead into a family holiday if done right, particularly at the end of the year when most professionals use up their annual leave. This not only keeps everyone together through the holidays, but once business is done, it's also a perfect chance to create some lasting memories.