Although traveling is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, it can invoke many emotions, including stress. It’s possible to stress about your trip before, during and after it. So, in order to avoid incurring stress, we’ve created a list of ten ways to make your travel experience less stressful and ultimately more relaxing and enjoyable. From reducing stress before your trip to handling it during your trip, we’ve got you covered.
1. Organize your bag and pack light.
Although you may be tempted to pack as much as possible since you figure forgetting something will add to your stress load, overpacking actually causes travel stress. Before you shove as much as possible into your suitcase, take a moment to sort through what you actually need and try to reduce your belongings by half. The best way to pack is to purchase packing cubes. Not only will these keep your belongings organized and easy to find once you arrive at your destination, they can also reduce the amount of things you can actually take, which will decrease your stress.
2. Get the right credit card.
It’s never a good idea to travel without insurance. One of the best ways to cut down on insurance costs (and your stress levels!) is to book your trip with your credit card, which will usually provide some kind of insurance coverage. Not all credit cards provide travel insurance, so it’s important to check before you make this assumption. Before you go, consider looking into travel rewards credit cards, which can come with an annual fee, but might save you money in the long run on insurance costs. These types of cards usually offer a host of travel insurance, which sometimes covers lost baggage, flight delays, medical emergency insurance and more.
3. Check-in online for your flight.
Most airlines allow you to check in 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to take off. Checking-in online entails providing your personal details and passport number, in addition to selecting some options like your seat, in-flight meal and baggage needs. Doing this 24 hours in advance can greatly reduce airport stress, since you only have to focus on dropping off any checked baggage and simply showing your boarding pass. If you don’t have any checked baggage, you can usually skip the check-in desk altogether and proceed to security.
4. Get to the airport early.
Now that you’ve checked-in online, you might decide that you don’t need to show up at the airport until last minute. While checking-in online certainly does cut down the amount of time you need to be at the airport prior to your flight, it’s not good for your stress levels to simply show up an hour in advance. If your flying internationally, try to get to the airport at least three hours early. If you’re staying in the country, you can usually show up two hours prior to the scheduled departure time. On that note, always check that your flight is scheduled to leave on-time, as often flights can be delayed or cancelled, or sometimes, believe it or not, they can actually leave early.
5. Use travel apps to help you.
It can be stressful to show up in a foreign country and have no idea where you are, where you’re going and what’s going on around you. This is where travel apps can come in handy. There are apps for everything, from offline maps to apps providing the best places to eat, sleep and party. While it can be more fun to simply wander and discover things yourself, apps can be helpful when you feel like you’re completely lost.
6. Avoid planning every step of your trip.
Perhaps one of the most stressful travel experiences, or life experiences in general, is when things don’t go to plan. The best way to avoid this is to refrain from planning every step of your trip. Plan a few experiences or sights that you want to see, but don’t jam pack your days with a strict itinerary. You’ll find yourself a lot more relaxed and a lot less stressed if you simply try to go with the flow.
7. Go with no expectations.
It’s hard not to have expectations when you travel, after all a holiday is supposed to be a fun, eye-opening or relaxing experience. We often feel obligated to come home and simply say our trip was amazing, even if it was far from that. The best way to travel and reduce your stress is to try and go with no expectations. This way, you’ll find yourself less disappointed and more amazed with everything!
8. Try to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.
Depending on where you’re going, you may find yourself concerned with pickpockets and scammers. While it’s not always easy to try and look like you fit in with the local culture, you can take a few steps to make yourself seem more confident and therefore less likely of a target to criminals. Avoid taking out a map in public, keep your phone in your bag and if you absolutely feel lost, head into the nearest restaurant, shop or hotel and ask for directions.
9. Keep an open mind.
If you’re heading overseas to an unfamiliar country, you might be worried about the types of food you’ll find, as well as facing language barriers and a host of other unfamiliar cultural experiences. While this can definitely induce stress, it’s important to keep an open mind and remember that locals in every country tend to be quite friendly, so you can always ask for help if you need it. Keeping an open mind can help you relax and enjoy new experiences, which is what travel is all about.
10. Carry only what you need on you.
It’s best to carry only what you need on you during your daytime adventures. If you’re worried about becoming the victim of a crime, consider getting an anti-theft bag. These bags are specially designed to confuse pickpockets. With hidden zippers and slash-proof material, it’s nearly impossible for a pickpocket to get their hands inside your bag. Although these bags can be lifesavers, it’s best to only carry a little bit of money and one credit card on you, leaving the rest behind in your hotel safe.
While travelling can bring on stress before, during and after your trip, it’s important to remember that it’s supposed to be a fun, relaxing and enjoyable experience. Right after booking your trip, you can begin to get organized for your trip, even if it’s months away. Getting the right kind of baggage and credit card can help you reduce stress, while checking-in online for your flight and arriving at the airport in plenty of time can ensure you don’t risk missing your flight (or ending up with a terrible seat on the plane!). Now that you’ve learned how to make your trip as stress-free as possible, we would love to know if you have any other ways of minimizing travel stress.