Tame Holiday Travel Tension

20 December 2016

Perhaps it’s the frenzy that arrives with the holiday shopping season. Maybe it’s the missed turns, the long lines, or the fact that you never, ever remember to pack your toothbrush. Whether going to the beach or getting together with in-laws, your trip doesn’t have to be taxing.

We gathered tips and talked to knowledgeable staff at Country Inns & Suites By Carlson about how you can relieve holiday travel blues and create an enjoyable vacation.

1. Let someone else drive: Being able to leave home calmly can set the tone for your entire trip. Rather than dealing with rentals and parking or a scrambling for cab, take a shuttle. “We offer a complimentary airport shuttle that runs 24 hours a day,” says Lisa Podlinski, general manager of Country Inn & Suites, Newark Airport. “Our main goal here is to make every guest feel like family.”

2. Book a morning flight. Bad weather, overbooking and delayed flights are realities. Rather than fret, schedule an early flight time. If your flight is delayed, you still have a chance of getting on a flight later in the day. Of course, carrying some form of entertainment (a book, downloaded movie, a game…) is a must. Then tell yourself the wait is a time of relaxation rather than frustration.

3. Essentials of packing: Packing doesn’t have to drag you down. There are tricks to remembering important items and to lightening your load.

  • Make a list: Note the necessities you should take on your trip as you go through your daily routine. Katie Lansing makes a checklist of essential items and crosses them off as she packs. While the general manager at Country Inn & Suites, Decorah, IA, doesn’t claim to remember everything, a checklist certainly helps. “It’s inevitable that we will still forget something,” she says. “So at Country Inns & Suites, we carry small sizes of some of the basic essentials at the front desk for guests who have forgotten them.”
  • Pack early: Make travel day less hectic by loading up your vehicle the day before and your packing your luggage even earlier. “I try to pack at least a week before I leave for any major trip,” says Corey Chadborn, sales coordinator for Country Inn & Suites, New Orleans French Quarter. “The night before, everything gets one last look over.” 
  • Keep it light: Keep in mind, many airlines charge by the bag and by the weight of the bag. And if you fill up your trunk with luggage, how will you carry home all those cool gifts? Many Country Inns & Suites locations provide guest washers and dryers so guests can pack lighter for extended stays. One way to pack light is to pick a color scheme of no more than three shades and bring only clothes you can mix and match.
  • Ship it: By shipping, you won’t have to worry something valuable will get squished in your suitcase. Country Inn & Suites, Newark Airport offers registered guests the option of having items shipped to the hotel or to ship packages from the hotel back home. “With our hotel being located across the street from New Jersey’s largest outlet mall, this helps guests greatly,” said Podlinksi. 

4. Have a plan: Sure, family gatherings will take up considerable time during the holidays, but travelers should consider exploration a gift to themselves. That way, visiting eccentric Uncle Ned isn’t such a chore.

  • Come to a consensus: “We love to eat, so looking up restaurants that are appropriate for the group, be it friends or family, is always a good idea,” says Alicia Lanfear, a front desk associate at Country Inn & Suites, Queensbury, NY. For hotel visitors, she says, there’s a binder full of hotel menus and well-informed staff members (sometimes armed with coupon booklets and discounts to local attractions) ready to give recommendations.
  • Just in case: Tim McNulty, general manager at Country Inn & Suites, Queensbury, NY., likes to bring rainy day activities in case he and his kids get stuck indoors. Of course, you can always cozy up by the fire with a book from your Country Inns & Suites Read It and Return Lending LibraryTM.
  • Try something new: The in-house concierge service at Country Inn & Suites, New Orleans French Quarter jumps at opportunities to provide a “True New Orleans Experience.” “From swamp Tours to the best restaurants in town, we have you covered,” says Chadborn. “It’s your vacation after all, let us do the work for you.”

5. See a mechanic: Schedule a thorough examination of your vehicle before setting out on a road trip. Headaches happen when preventable maintenance problems arise.

6. Avoid the rush: Rush hour traffic can be a trigger for a stressful trip. Evade congested roadways by starting out late in the evening or long before dawn. Psychologists say those with small children should consider putting little ones in their PJ’s and leave after rush hour but before bed time. After a stop for dinner and then a quick potty break, kids are more likely to fall asleep. The alternative is for the whole family to go to bed early (say 7 or 8 p.m.) and leave around 2 a.m. Sleepy kids are likely to fall back asleep with assistance from a favorite blanket or toy.

7. Get on the good health wagon: There’s nothing fun about being bloated and cranky. Limit salt and caffeine intake, carry health snacks to keep energized and wash hands frequently to reduce chances of getting sick. During road trips, drivers and passengers alike should jog in place and stretch when stopping for food or a restroom break.

8. Keep it together: Printing out details of your trip is a must. “We get so attached to our computers and phones, people forget that service may not always be available,” says Chadborn. He suggests printing a list of hotel and car reservations, emergency numbers, tickets and any other important details.

How do you take the stress out of holiday travel? Share your tips with us in the comments below.

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