Family holidays: guide for a stress-free get together

1950s crooner Perry Como sang ‘Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays… For the holidays you can't beat home sweet home!’ And it’s true. There’s nothing more comforting than enjoying childhood treats and embracing family traditions with your loved ones. But going home for the holidays can also be stressful--not just the journey to get home but the pressures and expectations that can come along with it. Here are some holiday tips to minimize anxiety and maximize joy.
Not sure when your exam schedule will be posted or when you can get days off? If your destination is popular, make an educated guess and do your best to stick to the plan. For students or others leaving Canada and travelling home for the holidays, make sure your visa dates are valid to ensure your re-entry to Canada goes smoothly. Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or automobile you need to make travel plans well in advance so that you aren’t stuck with a frozen turkey dinner for one, because all the seats were sold out or last-minute ticket prices are extortionate.
Leave your home as you would like to come home to it--clean, and hopefully un-burgled. Invest in inexpensive timers to turn on lights in the evenings, to give the illusion of someone being home. Put clean sheets on your bed, and fresh towels in the bathroom. Let neighbours know your plans so they can keep an eye on things and pick up any mail or parcels that arrive. Savvy travellers know that returning to a clean, organized house is one of the greatest pleasures of travelling, so invest a few hours before going.
It’s tough to stick to a budget around the holidays but be realistic and make sure that holiday bills don’t start your new year off on the wrong foot. In addition to going out with friends when home for the holidays, the budget can get blown on gifts as well. As much as you want to, don’t offer to get (every) round at the pub and remember that the real gift for family is being together for the holidays.
A great way to stick within your travel list gift budget is to buy online ahead of time and ship things directly to your destination. Not only does online shopping save time and enables packing light, you can avoid lame, last-minute gifts like the singing fish or another tie for Dad. Remember that you probably don’t need a lot of clothes either--laundry at Mom and Dad’s is free! Extra gloves, hats or scarves can always be borrowed. Think comfortable and easy to pack.
Going home for the holidays is a great way to connect with family, but remember that there is lots going on for others as well. Bring some fresh ideas like a new card or board game to the mix or learn a fun new dish to add to the holiday meal repertoire. Holidays are also a great time to catch up outside (unless there is a raging blizzard). Bundle up and get outside for a walk or visit the local gym with your siblings. Everyone will feel better with a workout under their belt and it makes the pumpkin pie that much sweeter.

Travelling during the holidays is a big deal. There are more people, longer lineups, and more headaches for the unprepared. In addition to sticking to your holiday packing list be prepared for potential weather complications, restrictions on luggage allowances and delays and hectic times. One of the best ways to minimize stress, protect yourself and travel like a boss during the holidays is by purchasing travel insuranceProtection against delays, cancellations, lost luggage and a myriad of other complications will ensure your peace of mind as you sail through the departure lounge. Happy travels and enjoy being home for the holidays!


Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.

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