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Planes, Cars and Travel Scars: Tips for Safe Travel

By Martin Henderson

Some Holiday Travel Advice

The holidays are a mess. If you’re looking to travel during the holiday season, you’re condemned to frustration. The mall is crowded. The freeway is crowded. The airport is crowded. All so you can get to that holiday destination and sit around a crowded table for family dinner. Bah, humbug!!!

But if you’re not completely jaded -- or maybe even if you are -- there are a few steps you can take to make holiday travel easier this season and every season.

Forget the deals on Black Friday, this advice is free.

In the Sky

You’re not Santa Claus, so if there’s an airport involved, there’s no need for you to lug your bags around like you’ve got rounds to make and cookies to eat. Someone else is doing the driving, so your focus should be on catching your plane. Check your bags. Let someone else do the heavy lifting. And keep your carry-ons light. Think of it this way: the lighter your load, the easier the plane will get off the ground.

If your flight is a long one, don’t be afraid to get up and stretch. Walk down the aisle to stretch your legs and spread some holiday cheer while restoring the circulation in your legs and arms.

While sitting in those super comfy coach seats, you can also massage your legs or prop your feet on a bag in order to change positions. And if you want to exercise, you can rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe. Don’t forget about scrunching the toes and then releasing to let go of stress.

Oh, wear comfortable shoes. The runway is for planes, not models; comfort is more important than fashion.

On the Road

Could there be a more stressful activity than driving the crowded freeways during the holidays? Unless you’ve got a shiny red nose and you’re leading a sleigh of reindeer in the fog, you totally have high score on the stress-o-meter.

First off, if you feel yourself getting sleepy or tired, nothing is worth the risk of not pulling over and resting, having a refreshment to wake you, or just calling it a night. Make sure that whoever is doing the driving is alert, paying attention and, of course, always looking for ways to escape trouble when the other guy screws up.

To make yourself more comfortable and reduce the chance of suffering -- sorry, nothing we can do about Uncle Bob’s political ramblings or Aunt Martha’s fruit cake that make everyone suffer -- you should probably use some sort of back support. You can roll up a towel and place it behind your lower back, which will also serve you well when you spill coffee after hitting that pothole that your tax dollars are paying to not fix.

Although nothing should come at the expense of attention to the road, that doesn’t mean you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. In this case, drive and roll your shoulders forward and backward to reduce the stress in them, or tightening and releasing the calf and thigh muscles. If you’ve got cruise control, you really are living the high life.

With Your Kids

We’re not living in the good old days when you threw your kids into the bed of a pickup truck and headed down the road. And though Santa may not need a seat belt, your kids (and you) most certainly do. Children 4 and under, or those weighing under 40 pounds, must use car seats. Make sure they are properly secured and in the back seat. Car seats for infants should face the rear of the car. Keep some baby wipes handy because you’re nuts if you don’t.

If the kids will be with you in an airport, writing your name and phone number on their arm gives you a fighting chance of getting them back should you become separated. Dressing them in a neon orange or other color shirt can make them easy to spot in a crowd if they wander off. If they’re carrying backpacks, make sure the total weight is 10 percent or less than their body weight and the pack has wide (two inches) padded double straps to distribute the load; this is a good idea for adults, too.

Take breaks as often as you can with children; it will reduce the chances you’ll say, “Don’t make me come back there.” You can also play the most important card you have all year: Remind them Santa only delivers to nice little boys and girls, you might get some positive traction for a few weeks.

Traveling can be a handful during the holidays. It rarely goes perfectly, but there’s no sense in reducing your chances for a safe and happy trip. A visit to The Joint Chiropractic beforehand for a tune-up could be a real benefit as well. With all the responsibility of traveling -- whether it’s the stress of airline travel or the need for optimum focus while driving -- you’ll benefit from having a nervous system that’s communicating at 100 percent; there’s nothing like having killer reflexes. Also, chiropractic can provide the body with maximum range of motion, which can be a real advantage. Nobody wants to get to their destination and suffer with back or neck pain because they didn’t follow a few common sense rules.

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