Stress continues to be a major problem in the lives of most Americans. According to the American Institute of Stress, some 77% of people regularly “experience physical symptoms caused by stress.” Psychological symptoms of stress aren’t far behind, at 73%.
What’s causing this anxiety and worry? According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), since 2007, the two top stressors in our lives are work and money. These outrank even health concerns and relationship problems as major sources of stress in our lives.
To solve the problem of stress, it’s important to look for ways to get away and relax—and to do it effectively. But while some people take vacations that cost a lot of money and only add to their psychological burdens, there are ways to reduce stress that won’t require breaking the bank. Here’s what consumers need to know if they want to reduce stress through travel.
Why Travel Might Be the Remedy for Some Stress
An intriguing study published earlier this year found that stress decreased more for a study group of middle-managers who took vacations in new locations, reporting less stress than people who simply vacationed at home. In both cases, the time off work helped reduce stress, and the effects were still felt 30 days after the vacations ended.
In short: Vacations are useful for fighting stress—but they may be especially useful when vacationers try new locations and quite literally “get away from it all.”
How to Make Vacationing Work
The trouble with using vacationing as a stress-management technique comes when someone gets more anxiety from planning and going on vacations in the first place. That’s why it’s important to stick to a few time-tested rules for planning vacations.
Don’t try to do too much. It’s great to try something new and experience a new place while vacationing—but planning too many activities on a vacation can lead to more stress. It’s a better idea to leave some time aside for resting and relaxation.
Plan ahead. Whether it’s putting money aside for the vacation in a savings account or locking in low priced airfare, planning ahead for vacations can reduce much of the stress that goes into planning by avoiding the problems associated with procrastination.
Clear the vacation with work. Don’t wait until the last minute to take vacation days. It’s far better to plan them in advance, ensuring that your supervisor won’t be put off by the sudden lack of help.
Utilize credit card points for travel and hotel rewards. Your regular expenses—ranging from groceries to gasoline purchases—can be put toward travel and hotel rewards, cutting out much of the financial worry from vacations and making it easy to get away and enjoy relaxation without spending another dime of your money.
How to Make Travel Stress-Free
In addition to using credit card travel points toward your vacation travel budget, there are a few additional ways to reduce the stress of travel.
Give yourself enough time. Do you have enough time to catch your connecting flight or get your car rental after you get to your destination? Give yourself a little cushion for eating and resting to reduce the worry and exhaustion of traveling. The last thing you want to do is find yourself sprinting to another terminal to catch a plane.
Practice. You don’t have to take off 14 days off to get the benefits of a vacation. If you haven’t planned complicated vacations before, then practice! Try planning airfare and travel arrangements for a long weekend, and note the most positive parts of that vacation for future reference.
Watch the crowds. Getting through major crowds at tourist destinations during peak season can be a nightmare. Be sure to factor in crowds as you plan your vacation. Sometimes, visiting destinations during the off season can both reduce costs and make the experience itself far more rewarding.
Through planning and practice you can make vacationing as stress-free as possible. Make sure you don’t just relax, but that you make it a point to get away from your usual experiences. The time away will help rejuvenate, de-stress and ultimately prepare you to attack life with a fresh perspective.