The sheer number of holiday travelers alone is enough to stress out people who hit the roads, rails, or skies to celebrate with loved ones far away. Add packing, traveling with kids, and leaving your home vulnerable to burglars, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster in the making. But, your holiday travels don’t have to be the bane of your existence this holiday season if you follow some of our hacks for stress-free holiday traveling.

One of the worst mistakes people make when traveling is leaving behind their phone chargers or earbuds. Grab an old sunglass case or eyeglass case and put them inside so you have a lightweight carrier that fits easily into your purse, carry-on, or jacket pocket. Wrap the cords nicely and neatly so they fit inside and so you don’t have the hassle of untangling wires when your battery runs low or when you can’t stand to listen to the kids’ songs in the car for one more second.

If you need to be at church or a formal gathering as soon as you arrive at your destination, the last thing you want to worry about is wrinkled clothing or hauling your mother’s ancient iron and ironing board out of the closet. Lay clothing flat inside a dry-cleaning bag and fold it as you normally would inside your suitcase so the plastic can prevent wrinkles from setting into the fabric. When you arrive, pull out the bag and remove the clothing. Hang it on hangers or lay it flat on a bed until you are ready to change.

Whether you are traveling with kids or not, rolling suitcases through the airport can be a hassle. To keep your suitcase smoothly rolling, pack the heaviest items closest to the wheels. Weight on the bottom will keep the suitcase from rocking or sliding when you are rushing to get to security or your gate on time.

One of the things that stresses out parents the most is being late or having to rush with kids in tow. You’ll find that by allowing plenty of time, you won’t feel as much pressure and you’ll be able to handle issues that arise with a more level head and more patience if you have time to spare. It’s also a good idea to think ahead to activities or sights within the airport or along your route to give everyone a breather. You’ll find that if everyone has a chance to stretch legs and work off some energy, you’ll all handle traveling together a little better.

Whether it’s giving kids their own backpacks full of snacks, books, small toys, and loveys, or keeping a carry-on with kids’ favorite activities at hand, you need to make sure your kids’ stuff is easily accessible for the duration of the trip. Your kids will relax a little more if they have familiar objects with them (sometimes just knowing where their stuff is helps them chill out a bit), and you won’t be pulling your hair out looking for things or trying to explain why they can’t have their lovey in the middle of the flight.

Think about all of the things you have worried about regarding your home while previously on the road: locking doors and windows, turning off appliances, leaving on a few lights, etc. What else needs to be done before you leave? Do you have a dog sitter booked? Someone to feed your fish and water your plants? Have you contacted the post office about holding your mail? Make a list of everything ahead of time and use it as a checklist when you prepare to leave so that you’ll know you completed all of them.

Posting about your travel plans is like putting a huge target on your home. Even if you have security measures in place, you never know who will see that you are out of town over the holidays if you post photos or complaints online. Save the sharing for your return trip: it will give you a good chance to go through all of your photos, too.

With SpiritFinder (www.spiritfinder.org), Jennifer Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences. jennifer@spiritfinder.org

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