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10 tips to reduce holiday travel stress

10 holiday travel tips to reduce stress | UPMC Health Plan

Many of us travel home for the holidays to spend time with family and celebrate the season. But getting there may not be as easy as jumping in the car and arriving shortly after. We struggle against delayed flights, traffic, crowded bus stations and airports, and winter conditions. Here are our top holiday travel tips to reduce the stress of holiday travel so you can get back to the important part: visiting with friends and family!

1. Book or plan your trip early

Do you have to travel by plane, train, or bus? If you already know the dates you need to travel, aim to book ahead of time so that you can secure the dates and times you prefer. Also consider avoiding travel on the busiest days of the year: the day before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and the two days before Christmas and New Year’s.

2. Make a list and check it twice

Packing can be extremely stressful, especially if it’s done at the last second. Avoid being stressed and forgetting important items by packing ahead of time. And use a list to make sure you’ve covered all the must-haves!

3. Prep healthy snacks

It’s easy to lose track of time and skip meals while traveling. A hungry traveler is most often an unhappy one, so avoid getting stuck in super cranky traveler land. Remember to pack foods that are easy to carry, high in protein or fiber, low in added sugar and fat, don’t need refrigerating. See our suggestions here.

4. Stay entertained

If you have a long trip planned, consider what you will do to fill the time in case of a delay or a cancellation. Take a book you have wanted to read, or download movies and Ebooks onto a tablet or mobile device. Having something to keep yourself occupied while traveling can minimize stress when unexpected delays occur.

5. Bring your Assist America card

As a UPMC Health Plan member, you can connect to Assist America. That means if you have a medical emergency while 100 miles or more away from home, you’re covered. Assist America can help members with replacing lost prescriptions, hospitalization, lost luggage, and more. To print your Assist America card, go to, click on Members at the top of the page, and log in to MyHealth OnLine. Or you can access the card from our mobile app. Download the free app for iPhone or Android. You never know when an emergency will happen!

6. Pack light

If you are traveling far, consider if it would be worth it to send some of your gifts to your final destination ahead of time. This could save you a lot of aggravation, like trying to squeeze your gifts into luggage bins or a packed car. Even better, you can purchase gifts online and send them to the final destination already wrapped to avoid that stress too. If you do travel with gifts, keep them unwrapped in case security needs to examine your bag.

7. Bring a carry-on

If flying, severe weather or other surprises may cause your flight to be cancelled or delayed, leaving you stranded overnight or longer. To avoid being left without any options, consider having a small carry-on with a change of clothes and essential toiletries such as a toothbrush and face scrub. Just in case you are traveling longer than intended!

8. Practice patience

It’s important to remember that travel can be stressful for everyone. When encountering an unexpected delay or stressful situation, take a deep breath and a moment to pause before responding. Practice kindness to all you encounter on your travels.

9. Sleep tight

The night before travel, plan to get a good night’s sleep rather than rushing around to pack and get last-second things done. This will help you avoid drowsiness, which can leave you out of sorts or confused and possibly place the rest of family in danger. Feeling sleepy can also potentially make you late and miss a plane, train, or bus.

10. Practice prevention

Hanging around in public places is one of the easiest ways to get sick, so consider getting your annual flu vaccination. Also remember to wash your hands frequently, carry hand sanitizer, dress in layers to stay warm, drink plenty of water, and eat healthy meals. There isn’t a sure-fire way to avoid getting sick, but do everything on your end to be as healthy as possible!

While it’s not possible to completely avoid stress during holiday travel, the more prepared you are the less likely you are to experience it. We wish you safe and stress-free travels this holiday season!