Until the day when virtual reality is able to successfully replicate an afternoon spent watching football with your family and a tryptophan hangover, you're going to have to travel around the holidays. And while it's nice to finally arrive at your destination, the journey? Not so much. But holiday travel isn't doomed to be a miserable experience.
All you need is a little planning, some organization, and a well-packed carryon to turn holiday travel time into a comfortable and productive (if not downright pleasant) stretch of time. Now answering your mom's questions about when you're going to give her some grandkids can be the most uncomfortable part of your holidays!
Create a Comfy Oasis
That train/plane/bus ride that suspiciously cost only $9 is going to take a while, so you might as well get comfy. Extremely comfy. Invest in noise-canceling headphones, like these PSB M4U 2 phones, to block out the chatter surrounding you. A cozy blanket like Flight 001's "Emergency" travel blanket can kill the on-board chill and double as a pillow. Your extremely comfortable travel nest is now ready to be your mobile office... or your home base as you marathon-stream true crime reenactments. Hey, no judgments here.
Bring Your Own Wi-Fi
Lots of buses, planes, and trains advertise Wi-Fi these days. Which is misleading, because half the time, it doesn't work (as anyone who's ever lined up work to do on a long ride, only to be told the Wi-Fi's down, knows). Whether you're looking to get serious work done or just chat with some friends, don't leave your connectivity to chance — pack a small mobile hot spot, like the Karma Go, so you don't have to depend on the whims of the travel gods to get a decent internet connection.
Get a Head-Start on Holiday Shopping
You can spend a five-hour plane ride half-listening to the cathartic drone of animal documentaries, or you can spend it being an adult and Taking Care of Business. Holiday travel can provide you with a convenient opportunity to do a lot of things you don't want to spend time doing in real life, like using your trip to go over your gift list. Whip out a tablet-meets-notebook like the Surface Pro 3 and get busy buying gifts. If you exchange presents on Thanksgiving because traveling home twice in two months is a wallet suck (and thus, should've thought about gift buying weeks ago), purchase digital presents, like gift certificates. Honestly, most people would rather have a gift card than a scarf any day, so no need to feel guilty.
Know When to Turn Off the Wi-Fi
While Wi-Fi beckons you with the opportunity to get things done, it can also keep you from getting things done. Responding to emails often creates as many new emails as it eliminates, and that doesn't even factor in the ever-present temptation to slip down a Wikipedia hole or follow some non-controversy flaring up on Twitter. To make sure you actually accomplish something on this trip — be it bashing through your last few business memos of the year or just blankly staring out the bus window — designate part of your journey as Wi-Fi free.
You've Got the Power
Don't rely on a holiday miracle to find you an open outlet where you can charge your dead phone at the airport. Yes, that guy who somehow appears to be charging nine different phones at the only charging station in your terminal will be visited by three spooky ghosts tonight who will show him the error of his ways, but you'll be in Cleveland by then, so you need to come up with another strategy. Prioritize charging every single device fully the night before you leave, and pack a small charging port like the Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 12000m Ah External Battery Charger, which can charge devices of any brand or model on the go without taking up much room.
Pack for Minimum Impact
Overpacking your bag does more than just strain your back; it limits your ability to feel organized while traveling. The more stuff you have, the more you're actually at risk of dropping and losing something every time you fish around in your bag for gum during your flight. Try shipping things like food, presents, and liquids — in some cases, it's cheaper than checking a bag, it's safer, and it minimizes the amount of crap you have to lug around. Pack minimally — throw out all the clutter that's accumulated in the bottom of your purse or backpack before traveling, and leave any items you only use occasionally at home. Download audiobooks and e-books, and pack a combo tablet-notebook like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, so you're set for both work and entertainment on your trip with a single device.
Make Sure to Actually, Like, Vacation
It can be tempting to spend your entire vacation working (especially when it provides a convenient excuse to get out of looking at embarrassing family photos with your parents). But you do actually need to take the occasional break from working — if not because you're full-on losing your mind from overwork, then to stay sharp and productive. Workers who never break are less focused and less effective than those who do, and they also miss out on vital opportunities to recharge their creativity and reassess project goals. So stream a movie, read a book, play with a dog (a real one, not a GIF). Don't worry, your work will still be here when you get back.
Wanna be both merry and mobile this holiday season? Learn more about the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 here.
Gabrielle Moss has written mostly funny stuff (but also some serious stuff) for GQ.com, The Hairpin, Nerve, etc. You can follow her here.