It probably feels like you've just recovered from last year’s brutal holiday travel, but here you are again — fighting your way through crowds, delays, and (worst of all) people. You would so prefer to be curled up on your couch power-watching Christmas movies on Netflix, but sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do. This year can be different, though — this year you can make it through the worst travel days of the year without a scratch on you. There are ways to cope other than jumping in front of a bus, honest (and good luck getting a bus to move in the holiday traffic anyway). Here are a few helpful tips for surviving the holiday rush that don’t involve injuring anyone, including yourself.
Coping With the Maniac Next to You
Here’s a fun fact: you’ll most likely end up spending more time sitting next to a stranger while traveling home than you will with your actual family once you finally get there. This includes irritatingly festive people who say things like, “Don’t you just love how magical the holidays are?” Since they don’t yet make jerk-canceling headphones (get on it, science!), your best bet is wearing earplugs. Of course, people might mock you behind your back for doing so, but it’s not like you’ll hear them.
Getting Through Airport Security With Your Dignity Intact
While your mother-in-law might strip you down mentally, the TSA will do it physically. The trick for airport security is simple: pack as lightly as possible, and prepare for all of their byzantine rules in advance. This means, for example, not packing six extra pairs of shoes. Don’t try to smuggle a bottle of water in your carry-on, either — you’re just going to slow everyone else down when they find it. And they will find it, even if you hide it in some unspeakable orifice — they have an x-ray machine that can spot that now.
Regain Armrest Superiority
Some might say that airplane and train armrests should be shared, or that passengers should reach an unspoken agreement to evenly split usage for the duration of a trip. But there are no rules in war, only victors. That armrest is an Iron Throne, and it’s yours to claim. Establish dominance immediately, and never relent. Don’t even get up to use the bathroom, because urination is a sign of weakness. Should anyone try to take some small part of that precious barrier, hiss at them. Never stop hissing.
Avoid Carrying 300 Tons of Gifts
People might ask you how you’re able to travel without dragging around any large, unwieldy gifts. You can explain to them (once you’ve removed your earplugs) that it’s not because you’ve renounced all material possessions, or because you’re completely alone in the world. It’s because you shipped your gifts in advance through the mail — or even better, you skipped physical gifts and went digital (like by getting someone a Netflix subscription).
See Delays as the Opportunity They Really Are
It’s inevitable that your plane or train will be delayed, or that you’ll get stuck in line for hours trying to snatch a rental car. Thankfully, while you wait you can use your favorite mobile device to stream a movie on Netflix, or catch up on all TV episodes you’ve missed all year. As long as you're on the ground with an Internet connection, those two (or 17) hours will disappear quicker than all the alcohol you’ve packed to cope with your family.
Or...Maybe Just Stay Home
“I’m too busy to come this year,” you sadly tell your relatives over the phone, as you giddily plop down in front of your TV with a beer. “Work has just been hell lately, and things aren’t going so well with you-know-who,” you elaborate, while ordering food online. Your city is empty now, and every store is closed. For once, it’s peaceful. Some might find this utter isolation lonely, but not you. Now you don’t have to argue about Benghazi with your Republican Uncle Steve. No commuting or friends or family or blistering cold weather. It’s just you and your Netflix queue, without any interruptions. There’s time enough at last.
For more holiday travel distractions, look no further than Netflix.
Joe Veix is a writer, editor, and performer.