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Reduce Holiday Stress while Traveling

by Laurie Nelson-Barker

Although the holidays are meant to be joyous, for some like me, they can be stressful, especially if I’m unprepared. When this is finally at print, we will have already entered the fall equinox and I don’t know how that happened. I’m not ready to put away my summer clothes; I haven’t even worn everything. But there may be hope. My spouse planned an awesome cruise through French Polynesia for December which is both exhilarating and terrifying.

I espouse minimalism, so packing light is essential. Mike and I try to teach people to pack using a backpack and a small carry-on, so it wouldn’t look good for me to drag a bunch of stuff through numerous airports and checkpoints, even if it is the holidays. I think I’ll try to pack the summer stuff I haven’t worn yet, which could be stressful but fun. I will be sure to wear cargo shorts underneath the sarong I plan to wear on the plane. It will reduce stress just in case I accidentally flush the makeshift skirt down the toilet, which is a real life, hilarious, travel story. As bizarre as that sounds, I’ve heard other stories that were similar, so I don’t doubt the ability of humans to do weird things.

If you will be bringing home more stuff, you will want room without having to buy more luggage. Trust me, you do not want the extra baggage fees and hassle. If you want to buy souvenirs, Christmas ornaments don’t take up much space, and you only have to display them once a year. However, remember not all cultures observe Christmas, and nothing says “tourist” like trying to buy a Christmas ornament in a non-Christian country. I have experience, just saying..

I stress about leaving my “furry kids” when I travel. We have taken our dog, Tess, with us in our plane and on short excursions, but I’m pretty certain the cruise people would not be pleased with a huge dog trying to devour the buffet. Therefore, she will be staying home with our pet sitter. The cat is a maniac and can never be trusted outside of our house, so that’s a no-brainer. Buying your dog a service vest and pretending that it’s a service dog fools no one. Buying a vest with pockets and putting a collapsible bowl, dried food, ID, leash, first aid kit, clean up bags, and hot/cold packs in the pockets will make traveling with your dog much easier. Many hotels allow pets, and your relatives might let you bring yours as long as it doesn’t eat kids or other pets. If you are interested in buying a ready-made dog vest, you can check my website at www.formatianfitness.com.

I also stress about food when I travel, especially during the holidays. Because I have been vegan for over twenty years, taking enough portable, plant-based food is always challenging. I’ve learned to make some durable vegan snacks, but am always open to new ideas. The last time we cruised on the Paul Gauguin, I was treated like a food celebrity. I always had a chance to review the menu in advance for my food choices. It was great. I actually had my own stalker, who seemed to find me wherever I was on the ship to review the menu and get my opinion. However, once the cruise was over, I reverted back to floundering with food choices. Unfortunately, I don’t speak French, unless you count the high school French I took 50 years ago. That probably shouldn’t count though, as the only things I can say in French are “Do you speak English?” and “Where is the cat?” Neither is very helpful when ordering food, so I’ll continue to experiment and hope for the best.

Hopefully, some of these hints will help you streamline your holidays and minimize stress. Remember that if holiday travel is on the agenda, the people you meet are strangers, and you will most likely never see them again. If you have to wear the same outfit twice, no one cares. I’m wishing you stress-free, minimalist holiday travel with great food, fun, and family!

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