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Get organised for the Christmas and New Year get-away

It’s that time of year when many of us are heading off for a winter get-away or to visit friends and family. While you may not be able to avoid traffic jams or transport delays, a little forward thinking will help you glide into the holiday season with far less stress.

1. Plan ahead

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number and variety of tasks to tackle, it’s never too soon to start planning. A to-do list will help you to stay in control so find a system that works for you. To stay organised, keep your lists in one place. If you like old-fashioned pen and paper, use a notebook with different pages for shopping lists, travel plans, etc. Alternatively, compile an Excel spreadsheet or download a productivity app such as Remember the Milk ( that you can use on your phone or PC. Don’t forget to check whether you need extra home or travel insurance – if you’re a Benenden member you can enjoy discounts on both.

2. Travel plans

Avoid last-minute stress by checking the expiry dates of important travel documents such as passports and, if you’re travelling within Europe, your EHIC insurance card. To apply for, or renew, your EHIC card, go to:

Travelling somewhere new can heighten anxiety so do your research and make arrangements well in advance. If you’re travelling with friends or family, it makes sense to discuss the route ahead of the trip so that you can avoid stressful differences of opinion. Download maps and check directions so that you can estimate journey times.

Take advantage of early-bird ticket offers if you can. And if you intend to drive, get organised by decluttering the boot, and checking the water, oil and tyres. Benenden members can enjoy 10% off all in store purchases at Halfords ( so make the most of it when getting your car ready for winter.

3. Manage expectations

Despite all the good cheer at this time of the year, there’s no escaping the fact that many people find it stressful to spend time with family over the holidays. Tensions can be heightened if you’re away from home, so think ahead about how to manage expectations. Whether you’re travelling with children, teenagers or elderly relatives, communication is key. Try to take everyone’s needs into consideration and consider how you involve them in decision-making. Think carefully about springing surprises – not everyone enjoys them.

4. Prepare tech and entertainment

If you’re travelling with teenagers or young adults, it’s essential to check wi-fi availability. If you’re opting for a digital detox over the holidays, let everyone know in advance to avoid disappointment and possible disputes. Download films, TV programmes or podcasts so that you’ll have plenty of entertainment options – and don’t forget your headphones. Check you have the right plugs, chargers and adapters for your destination, as well as USB cables.

5. Don't overschedule

Plan activities and make preparations but try not to clutter up your schedule with too many commitments. Allow time to unwind and leave space for spontaneity. Don’t worry about how you’re going to spend every moment of the day. You can’t be certain of the outcome, but try to stay positive. Remember it’s the season of goodwill and that, while life has it challenges, there’s also plenty to celebrate.

By Juliet Landau-Pope, declutter coach and study skills consultant, the author of Being More Productive:

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