Travel is supposed to be the best thing to help us deal with the stress of our everyday lives. While that’s often the case, there are times when travel itself can be the cause of our stress. But with careful planning, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five tips for making travel less stressful.
Set a Realistic Budget – and Stick to It
All too often money is the source of our woes – or more often, the lack of it. Whether you’re off on a weekend away or a longer trip, keeping control over your finances is essential. Before you set out, think about what you can afford to spend – the restorative benefits of a vacation will soon evaporate if you’re cash strapped when you get home. Seek advice from fellow travelers as to likely costs of living at your destination. Be realistic when it comes to your accommodation choices and don’t make rash decisions when it comes to activities and excursions. It’s also prudent to carry a backup credit card or keep a reserve of emergency cash, just in case things go wrong.
Read Up on Local Safety and Security
Nothing ruins a trip more than feeling concerned about your own safety, whether you’re a solo traveler or opting for the security of a group tour. Decide what your bottom line is in terms of your destination – are you comfortable with the risk of pickpocketing, for instance? Take risk mitigation measures when you’re there. Think carefully about the district where you’ll stay, particularly if you plan to use public transport or have to arrive after dark. Leave your most precious possessions behind and make use of the in-room safety deposit box for those things you need to have with you, such as your passport. Ask your accommodation for the number of a reliable taxi driver – often safer than hailing a cab on the street. Heed your government’s safety advice and make sure you’re well insured.
Allow Time For Connections
One of the most stressful parts of travel is what happens at the airport. Tight connections compound your worries – allow plenty of time between flights if you can’t fly direct. For some airports, this could be as much as three hours, so pack a book, plug in your headphones or plan a coffee stop. The wait at the luggage carousel can also be traumatic, especially if you had to run to catch your second flight. If it’s possible to travel with just carry-on luggage, that’s going to be preferable, but increasingly, airlines are tightening up on what you’re allowed to take into the cabin with you. If you have to check baggage, be sure to pack all valuables in your carry-on bag and also squeeze in a change of clothes. Most bags that don’t turn up on the carousel do arrive eventually, so having a fresh set of clothes and a toothbrush buys you time before you have to get kitted out afresh.
Embrace New Experiences
Knowing yourself is a key part of dealing with stress when you travel. There’s a balance between the rush that comes from pushing your boundaries and going so far beyond your comfort zone that don’t enjoy yourself at all. If you do want to try new experiences, do so at a pace you can cope with – and be honest with yourself what that is. Plan your itinerary so that you have days when you spoil yourself and days when you challenge yourself. Build in a plan B: if you really don’t love that wild camping experience and it’s making you stressed, there’s no shame in bailing to hole up in a hotel instead.
Manage Your Expectations
Perhaps most important of all is the need to manage your expectations. If you’ve built up that trip to be the perfect vacation, it’s likely to fall short. Beating yourself up about it will be very stressful. Remind yourself that nothing is perfect and often, those Insta-worthy photos that tempt us ordinary mortals to follow like sheep are meticulously staged. Train yourself to see the positives in every situation. So you can’t seem to get hot water out of your hotel room shower? Focus on the view from the balcony instead. If you don’t stress about what you can’t control, you’ll feel a lot calmer. Accept that flight delays, long queues and less than ideal hotel rooms are all part of the joy of travel. Ask yourself will it really matter in years to come? If you can convince yourself that it won’t affect your holiday memories, you’re on the way to stress-free travel.