Tips on Planning a Stress-Free, Affordable Holiday Getaway!
Contributor: Jamie Strand
Although we love to celebrate them, the holidays can be stressful. Finances might be tight or family tensions might be high. Whatever your reasons are for dreading the upcoming holiday season, one solution might be to book a holiday vacation.
Research has proven that taking a vacation reduces stress, promotes well-being, and may even increase our chances of getting a promotion. Of course, vacations only make us happier when they don’t add to our existing stress levels.
Proper vacation planning helps you stay under budget without replacing your holiday stress with vacation stress. Here are some considerations:
For pet owners, one of the most worrisome aspects of planning a vacation is determining who will care for your beloved pet while you’re away. Of course, the ideal situation for every pet owner is to simply bring Fido with you on vacation. Although not all hotels and activities are pet-friendly, all it takes is a bit of extra planning to determine how to include your four-legged friend in your holiday vacation.
If you’re unable to find a way to bring your pet, you still have several options here. An obvious choice might be asking a trusted relative or friend to pet sit (or even housesit). If you’re unable to find anyone, another great option is to hire a local dog walker or pet sitter.
There are several ways to budget for travel, even when money is tight. Start by looking at your monthly budget and determine how much you can reasonably save up prior to the upcoming holiday season. You should also set a budget for purchasing gifts so you don’t give into the temptation of overspending. If money is an issue, you might also consider budget travel, travel hacking, last minute deals, or using credit card points to help fund your trip.
If a true vacation just isn’t in the cards for you this year, don’t worry. You can still navigate those difficult conversations with disapproving relatives and find ways to make the most of your holiday:
Take a staycation.
From outdoor adventures with your pet to exploring the best local spots in your hometown, a staycation might be a chance to experience the joys of a vacation without ever leaving home. Consider this an effective option for easing your mind if you decide against holiday travel.
Focus on what makes you grateful.
Gratitude has been proven to change the chemistry of your brain for the better. We already know that people with positive brain chemistry are more likely to feel happy, courageous, and uninhibited. (Thanks, seratonin, dopamine, and oxytocin!) According to the University of Berkeley, if you start feeling anxious or depressed at your family’s holiday party this year, gratitude might be one way to help yourself feel better.
Refocus your mind.
Instead of wasting time worrying about Aunt Martha’s vocal disapproval of your life choices, consciously choose to focus on something that brings you joy and gratitude in your life. Remind yourself that you are a unique, worthy adult and you are not defined by what someone else thinks of you.
Boundaries are an important way to manage your daily interactions with loved ones. They are especially helpful during the holidays, although you should ideally practice boundaries every day of the year. You can start by setting limits on how long you will spend at any family gatherings this year. Also come up with a plan for how you will handle difficult situations. For instance, you might politely excuse yourself from conversations that turn negative or uncomfortable.
As you probably already know, holidays can be stressful for all of us. Taking a holiday getaway can be an excellent option as long as it doesn’t break the bank or create additional stress. Even if you aren’t able to leave town this holiday season, you can use the tips listed above to ensure you make it through the holiday season with your own wellbeing in mind.
Jamie Strand is an unashamed nerd. He teaches community college and loves spending time with his two daughters. He wants to share his love of camping, science and math with kids today and that’s why he and a friend got together to create Scicamps.