The Travelers Guide To Staying Zen On Thanksgiving

The Zen Travelers guide to Thanksgiving

By November 18, 2014 No Comments

Photo courtesy of iphonebackground

Let us not forget that Thanksgiving is about so much more than popping the top button of those cute new jeans from Madewell or throwing sweet rolls at your favorite Aunt. It’s about the big ‘G’….Gratitude! So today we are going to look at some ways to practice gratitude and keeping your cool while traveling and during those heated political arguments that inevitably happen.


Contrary to poplar belief Thanksgiving is actually rooted in an English tradition that formed during the English Reformation by Henry the VIII in reaction to there being so many Catholic holidays on the calendar. The days of fasting and days of thanksgiving were added in an effort to create Protestant holy days. The Pilgrims brought this with them and the first documentation of it’s celebration is the fabled 1621 Plymouth Rock Party. So there’s that….

I digress. The holiday has morphed into a stock pot of celebrating our civil liberties, religious freedoms and of course, our loved ones. Getting to the part where you celebrate and relax can often feel like a squeezing out those leftovers. So here are some ways to reduce stress and highlight the happy.

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.” ~Charles Dickens

In the airport:


1. First tip…pack light! Nothing will bog you down like those 3 extra pairs of shoes that you probably won’t wear. Most likely you are only going to be traveling for a day or two and instead of focusing on looking fabulous, try and harken back to a time when people had to wear the same hand-sewn garment for years!

2. Take a cue from the zen principal of “Lightness” that one ought to be as light as the balsa wood. Reminding us that physical attachments are not adding to our overall being.

3. While sitting next to the screaming two year old on the plane, practice meditating. ”What, you say? While the buggar is screaming?”. “Yes, I say!”. Mediating during take off and landing is actually a great way to keep you from having bad jet-lag. You will also keep your cortisol levels in check, which is a natural reaction to fight or “flight”. Slip a mask over your eyes, pop some ear plugs in and drink plenty of water! Here are some tips on how to mediate. 

On the road:


1. Stretch. Dance. Take frequent breaks.
Traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday is like traveling into the 7th layer of hell. The best thing you can do for yourself and passengers is treat your body with kindness. Here’s a great article on some alternative stretches you can do while on the road.

2. My personal suggestion is to keep the car ride fun!
Play road games.
Sing songs and dance to them in your seats!

3. Don’t play movies or look at electronics…I realize this a great pacifier for kids, but trust me, it’s ultimately not great for their eyes and overall well being. Watching movies while in motion can cause motion sickness and fatigue. My generation may have been the last to not have this available to us and we had plenty of good times on road trips without the addition of movies!

4. Drink lot’s of water. Traveling with gas is never comfortable you guys.

At the home:


Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

1. Have a gratitude session. Most families go around the table and say what they are grateful for, which is a beautiful thing to do! Why not take it one step further and take it out of the dining room? Plan a time before or after the meal to sit as a family and share stories of gratitude. Get as hippie dippie as you are comfortable with, but make it meaningful. You can set up a space to bring something you are willing to give away as a symbolic gesture of being grateful for all that you do have!

2. Volunteer as a family. Nothing puts things in perspective like working together to help others. Local soup kitchens, coat drives and homeless shelters are rife with opportunities during the holidays. I’m a big advocate of not just doing this once a year, but any volunteer time is a blessing to experience. You and your families can even skip your Thanksgiving meal together and just cook for others! I know…blasphemous!

“When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.”
~Chinese Proverb

Last tip to keep things Zen, give thanks for even the negative things in your life. It’s a great reminder that there is nothing that is inherently good or bad. Problems and trials can be looked at as considerations and you and your loved ones can think of creative ways to reshape your thoughts and actions.

To that end, try to remember that Thanksgiving is one day. It’s a meaningful holiday, but it’s not the only time of the year to live a life of gratitude. These things are tips to take with you any time of year.

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.”
~Sarah Ban Breathnach

So this holiday season dance, sing, eat, hug, smile, laugh, poop, cry, wrestle and be merry!

Until next time,

Misty The Travel Muse