For the most part, the holidays are a joyous time to celebrate family, love, and togetherness. But to get there, well… a lot of us have to travel. And travel during the holidays can be less-than-pleasant, to say the least.
Last year hit a record for 45.2 million passengers from Dec. 16 through Jan. 5 — a record for holiday air travel in the US. This year will likely match that, at least.
It’s normal to get frazzled when traveling, but less than ideal, especially if you want to look put-together when you greet your loved ones at the terminal. Similarly, it can be difficult to spend several days to a week or more away from home, living out of a suitcase in guest rooms, and maintain your A game at holiday get-togethers.
Besides great food and company, after all, holiday fashion is a big part of what makes Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays a blast. But you’ll need to keep your wits about you to keep you winter whites crisp too.
Here’s a few tips to stay sane, stylish, and stress-free when traveling over the holidays:
In some ways, your style and sanity over any given vacation will come down to how well you’ve packed. It’s definitely not easy to anticipate all weather and occasions, but if you plan strategically you should have a good idea of what to expect — and how to meet those expectations without going overboard.
I love the idea of packing outfits that can be mixed and matched because it makes more space in your luggage for the gifts and treats you’ll probably be bringing. Your favorite jeans and jewelry could go a long way along with a sweater dress or two. Just make sure you can visualize those outfits in advance, and do yourself a favor and pack enough underwear!
There’s a surprising debate that keeps resurfacing over what is appropriate to wear on an airplane. Personally, I think it’s important to dress comfortably, but J. Bryan Lowder makes a fairly compelling argument for dressing up while traveling in an article for Slate: “The weary traveler has little control over these things,” he writes of lackluster experiences in the air, “but he can control his own outfit—and feeling handsome amid all the inhumanities can be powerfully heartening.”
He’s got a point that feeling confident can enhance any experience. Luckily, there’s no need to sacrifice comfort for style. That’s the beauty of spandex: it’s not just ultra-tight yoga pants; there are dress pants, dresses, jeans and much more that feel like leisurewear and look business casual. It may just make your trip bearable to feel a little more collected amidst the chaotic rush.
It can be easy to default to a family guestroom during the holidays — it’s probably free, so why not? But, as adults, I think we need to do a little better than that — for ourselves and our hosts. A guest bedroom is a lovely and generous, but if there’s not one available, consider an AirBnb or hotel for at least part of your stay.
Making sure you have privacy and comfort, especially for an extended holiday, is really critical for mental health. But if you want to keep your things together and out of siblings’ prying hands or dogs’ slobbering jaws, you need a space to call your own at least for a little while.
When it comes to getting ready and dressed, this will allow you leisure to try on a few different outfits, do your hair without sharing a bathroom, wrap gifts without giving away any secrets.
It’s important to be selfless during the holidays and give back. That said, it can be incredibly taxing to spend every waking minute with your family, your friends from home, or even your significant other if you have one. A lot of us take for granted the luxury of spending time by ourselves to recharge — and I really think this goes as much for extroverts as introverts.
The beauty of me time is it can be whatever you want it to. It might be going to the spa for a day, or on a little shopping spree where you can treat yourself alongside everyone else. See a movie on your own; give yourself a makeover; read a book in a beautiful cafe over some hot cocoa.
Without me time, privacy, comfort, dignity, and strategy, anyone can feel like a mess inside and out, diminishing the otherwise precious moments brought about by the holidays. For yourself and for those you love, practice self-care so you can commit yourself confidently to the spirit of the season.