Five Ways to Deal with the Stress of Holiday Traffic

Getting to the Galleria will probably be a pain, but may as well make the most of it when you get there.
Getting to the Galleria will probably be a pain, but may as well make the most of it when you get there. Photo by Bill Jacobus via Flickr
The next few weekends are going to be hell if you decide to head anywhere near a shopping area. Even as retail sales have flagged with the rise and efficiency of online options, stores leading up to Christmas are still routinely packed on the weekends. That's just a fact.

But, what if you have to face the traffic too? Maybe you need to do some shopping or perhaps you work in a mall, God bless you. How do you face this hellscape and come away unscathed? We have some ideas.

Be patient.

Everyone is in the same boat as you. Try your best to remember that. While you're sitting there, listen to a podcast or call an old friend (hands free, naturally). Go early and leave early too. Make plenty of time for yourself and don't stress it. It only sucks if you let it.

Pay it forward.

If you want to make it worse for you and everyone else, be a jackass. If not, try the opposite. Wave at people. Let them in. Allow other jerks plenty of room to pass. If someone swipes a prime parking spot, let them. That just means you'll get more steps and probably outlive him anyway. It's supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Try to act like it.

Make a day of it.

If you do have to do this, make a plan of attack and turn it into a full day. Plan some relaxation into the day. If you are in one place, find a spot for the kids and some drinks for the adults. If you are moving around, grab lunch, get a mani-pedi or go to a movie. If you have the whole day, just make the most of it.

Traffic apps are your friends.

Waze, Google Maps and the like are super helpful, but particularly so on days when you don't normally expect traffic. Plot better routes around the trouble spots. Even if it says it will take a little longer, staying out of bumper-to-bumper jams will make the trip more pleasant.

Consider alternate transportation.

One of the best ways to avoid the stress of driving is not to drive. Use METRO or Uber. Walk if you can or ride a bike. When those aren't practical, consider driving part of the way. Park away from the mess and Uber closer or grab a bus. There are plenty of options that are easier and less stressful than getting behind the wheel. 
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke