Whether it’s for business or pleasure, traveling is rarely as idyllic as it seems. Along the way, you’ll encounter friction, unpredictable events, snags, and hiccups. How you deal with them will determine how successful and enjoyable your travels are.
4 Tips to Make Your Next Travel Experience Less Stressful
Whether by plane, train, or automobile, travel can be stressful, sticky, frustrating, and overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be! With a few smart tips, tricks, and hacks, you can reduce friction, eliminate stress, and enjoy the ride. Here are some practical suggestions to make your next travel experience more carefree and enjoyable:
1. Establish a Budget
Nobody wants to talk about money, but it’s one of the single most stress-inducing elements of travel. When you’re worried about how much you’re spending, you’re unable to enjoy the fun, impromptu aspects of traveling – like grabbing a bite to eat from a local hotspot or upgrading you standard hotel room to a suite when the receptionist offers.
The best way to avoid money-related travel concerns is to come up with a budget ahead of time. Depending on your personality and constraints, you may choose to come up with a ballpark range that you’re willing to spend over the entire trip, or you may want to get detailed and give yourself a daily allotment to spend. And if you’re traveling with others, be open about any concerns or expectations you may have. They may not be aware of the finances and will likely be more supportive if they understand.
2. Plan Ahead
Don’t procrastinate and wait until the very last minute to flesh out the details of your trip. The more you plan ahead, the more you can enjoy the travel experience. Here are some suggestions:
- Pack two or three days in advance. This ensures you have everything you need and gives you time to do things like wash clothes or run last-minute errands.
- When traveling abroad, do as much research on international customs as you can ahead of time. For example, you may need an eTA if traveling to Canada. It’s a cheap and easy document to get online, so don’t wait until you arrive at customs to do it. Check it off your list prior to departure and you won’t have to waste any energy thinking about it!
- You don’t need to account for every minute of every day, but there’s something to be said for developing a rough itinerary of your trip prior to landing. It takes some of the guesswork out.
3. Give Yourself Time
Few travel-related experiences are as stressful as trying to catch a flight or worrying that you won’t make it to your gate before it closes. You can avoid most of these concerns by showing up to the airport with ample time. (And if you show up too early, what’s the big deal? You get some extra downtime to read, nap, or grab a bite to eat.)
Another suggestion is to sign up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry – both of which will cut down on the amount of time you waste in between arriving at the airport and boarding your plane.
“If you’re traveling frequently, either program can cut down on stress and may save you time,” Kate Silver writes for The Washington Post. “In exchange for a fee and sharing some of your personal information, you don’t have to take your liquids and laptops out of your carry-on, and you can keep your belt, jacket and shoes on. Often, lines are shorter or nonexistent. All of which makes for a more mellow experience.”
4. Take Care of Yourself
There’s nothing worse than having your travel plans derailed by the sudden onset of a cold, flu, or virus. And while you can’t avoid all germs, you can do your best to take care of your body.
“Take your vitamins, get quality sleep the night before your trip, and have some stress relievers on hand to decrease your chances of getting sick from the stress of travel and the germs in the re-circulated air in the airplane,” wellness coach Elizabeth Scott suggests.
It’s also important to drink plenty of water and to cut back on eating greasy takeout and highly processed foods. The more nutrients you can pack into your diet, the better you’ll feel and function.
Rediscover the Joy in Travel
Can you remember the first time you took an extended vacation with your family as a child? Can you recall the excitement that welled up inside of you in the days preceding the trip?
What about the first time you traveled on an airplane? Can you remember the awe that filled your heart when you first got a glimpse of the world from 30,000 feet in the sky?
There was a time when it was exciting to travel. But now you’re a calloused adult traveler with scars and warts from previous travel experiences gone wrong. And while you should certainly use the lessons you’ve learned, there’s something to be said for counteracting the friction you face in your travels and learning to love the adventure and excitement that comes with seeing different places. Hopefully the tips and techniques discussed in this article give you the opportunity to do just that!