Photo by Pixabay The holidays can be stressful, and so can traveling. However, traveling for the holidays can actually relieve stress. If you plan it right, you can enjoy a relaxing trip to visit relatives, get away with your partner, or even go it alone. Breaking the repetition of our daily lives can offer a physical and mental release, and travel has been shown to lower your blood pressure and boost good mood chemicals in the body. Your mind and body reset as you relax without the obligations of work and daily life, changing your outlook for the better. Studies show that planning a vacation can boost your mood before you even go anywhere. Here are some tips for avoiding the holiday craziness (or your crazy relatives!) by getting away. First, you want to plan your trip early enough to take advantage of travel specials, and you might consider using a travel service to help with all the details. If you’re able to have flexible travel dates, you can find cheaper flights or avoid major road traffic. There are apps that help you navigate traffic or compare flight prices and availabilities. You might even be able to use less busy airports and save money on flights and parking. International travel is also a good idea as those flights tend to be cheaper during the holidays, when Americans focus on domestic destinations. Taking your family to Europe might be cheaper than a trip to Grandma’s house, and you could even take Grandma with you! If you’re traveling with children, booking the first flight of the day can be helpful as those planes are in the airport overnight, so there are no flight delays unless there are mechanical problems. If you can afford it, book direct flights. Be sure to give yourself extra time for going through security and traveling to the airport, and bring books or activities to entertain everyone while waiting to board. If you’re taking presents rather than shipping them ahead, be sure to leave them unwrapped to speed up security checkpoints. If your kids are old enough, let them help you plan the trip and the destination. The more involved they are in the process, the more invested they will be in a good outcome and fun travel. Make planning your trip an adventure! Finally, anticipate problems so that you’re not overwhelmed when they happen. When you expect things that are out of your control to possibly go wrong, you’ll be less upset when something does. Take deep breaths, listen to relaxing music, and walk it off. Even the airport can be a sanctuary when you’re ready with a good book or deck of cards to strike up a family game. If you’re one of the many people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), taking a vacation to a warm, sunny location can literally make you feel better. One of the treatments for SAD is light therapy, as it can be depressing during the dark winter months. Getting a good amount of sunshine boosts the vitamin D levels in your body, helping to fight depression and anxiety. Whether you’re skiing the slopes or the waves, getting outside in the sun will make you happier. Putting your toes in the sand is an added bonus! So whether you’re traveling to visit family or to avoid them, taking a trip during the holidays can elevate your mood and increase your happiness. Escape the winter blues with a well planned trip to someplace fun. Even if they don’t go with you, your family will thank you.