It’s no secret that sometimes travel, especially international travel, can be stressful. Whether your plane’s been delayed or your hotel just isn’t what you expected, sometimes traveling can be stressful. Vacations are meant to allow you to relax and recharge your batteries. So that you return home utterly rested and ready to face the real world.
Traveling isn’t supposed to make you more stressed; it’s meant to give you the time to de-stress. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to prevent travel causing you stress. So that you can spend your time away giving yourself the time to unwind and de-stress. I unfortunately suffer from anxiety and go through these stress factors every time I’m traveling (international or domestic) but I try my best to keep it calm. If you have anxiety, you’ll understand the overwhelming thoughts that pour into your mind from the second you pack your luggage to the your arrival. So of course, you’re probably wondering what steps can you do to ensure that your next trip doesn’t cause you unnecessary stress?
Determine what causes you stress
First things first, take the time to work out what it is about traveling the causes you stress. To do this, take the time to think about any previous vacations you’ve been on and what caused you to become stressed out. By working out what has caused you anxiety before, you can make it easier to ensure your next trip is as free from stress as possible.
For many people, the most stressful part of traveling abroad is boarding the plane. This is because you’re always worried that you won’t get a good seat or that there won’t be any overhead space left for your hand luggage? Maybe, you find shared transfers from the airport to your accommodation stressful? Or perhaps, navigating around a new place causes you to become anxious?
The thoughts the run through my mind are usually whether there’s enough room in the overhead for my hand luggage and who would I be sitting next to. I personally like my personal space, so if I end up being the lucky one to sit next to someone, I pray to god they understand boundaries. But I always try to keep an open mind about the other passengers on the plane and try to look around for possible alternative overhead spaces incase the area I’ll be seated at will be too full.
To address your stress and make travel more enjoyable, you need to determine what the cause of it is. So, take some time to think about what causes you to become anxious while traveling. Remember, unless you can work out the root cause, you won’t be able to improve your travel experience.
Find ways to deal with (and prevent) that stress
Once you’ve determined what causes you to become stressed out while traveling, or preparing for a trip, the next step is to find ways to deal with it. Studies have shown that one in two people suffer from travel-related stress. It’s important to realize that just because you get anxious when traveling, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel. It just means that you need to learn to prevent the problems that cause you to have travel anxiety.
Let’s say, for example, that one thing that causes you to become stressed out when traveling is trying to fit too much into a short time period. When we go away, we like to try and fit as much as possible into our schedules. While it’s nice to see all of the best sights and attractions, sometimes it can all get a bit much and can cause you to become stressed out. A little trick that some of the most seasoned travelers swear by is to divide any trip into two parts – an exploring part and a resting part. So, for example, on day one of your trip, you could spend a day at the beach or by the pool. Then, on day two, you could spend the day sightseeings. Alternate rest days and exploring days throughout your trip – this should help to make it more enjoyable and less stressful.
I wrote a post previously of helpful apps that you can easily download before your trip so that you can plan your travels accordingly. One app allows you to help pack your luggage based on the activities you’ll be doing while you’re there, and I find that this usually helps ease a person’s mind when it comes to planning everything in one trip.
That’s just one example of things that can cause stress while traveling. There are also multiple other things that can lead to feelings of anxiety. Hopefully, however, you get the idea and understand that it’s just a case of getting more creative with how you spend your time when abroad. You have to do what works for you and what you enjoy.
Plan every last detail of your trip
Studies have shown that when we plan things out properly, from work assignments to vacations, they tend to cause less stress. This is because we know that we’ve got everything covered and don’t have anything to stress about.
- Be smart about booking your flights.
One of the most common causes of travel stress is the flights. So, it pays to be smart about where you book them, what times you book them for, and whether you choose to pay extra to select a seat in advance. (If you want to sit with your travel buddies, doing this is a must.) I often book through Westjet for majority of my flights as I find they usually have the best deals and the best customer service. Their app is also super easy to navigate and will update you when your flight is delayed or the gate has changed. I always check in the day before my departure to help ease my mind a little before I leave and I can easily do that with their app.
When it comes to travel, you want to ensure that you’re able to get from A to B as quickly as possible. So, it’s a good idea to compare your flight options using the Google Flights tool, or another similar resource. That way, you can see which companies offer the quickest routes to your destination of choice. Ideally, you want to aim for flights without stopovers.
Again, another reason why I choose Westjet as they offer the a lot of direct flights. What’s so good about direct flights? Because navigating through another airport and having to go through security and check in again can be such a hassle. You never know how long the wait times will be like once you arrive at your layover location. I tend to sweat the most when I know there’s a layover and I have about an hour to catch my next flight. Will I make it on time? What happens if I don’t? Am I going to be stuck here?
- Research your destination carefully.
The last thing you want when spending hundreds, if not thousands, on a trip is to arrive at your destination of choice and be unhappy with it. So, it pays to take the time to research anywhere that you’re considering visiting carefully. Read up on the culture and traditions of the place, what it’s renowned for, and what you can expect when there. The best resources for doing so are sites like TripAdvisor. This is because these sites don’t only have lots of useful information, but also reviews from travelers who have visited each place.
Once you’ve decided on a destination, the next step is to select your accommodation. If you’re someone who gets anxious about the planning that’s involved in finding the right hotel, perhaps it would be best to book via a travel agent? You can tell them what you want from your accommodation, and they can tell you where they would recommend. Make sure that regardless of how you book your accommodation, you take the time to read up about it and what it offers. So that you can make an informed decision and ensure it’s in the right location, has the right facilities, and offers the type of trip you’re after. I personally love researching reviews on a specific hotel as I’m not the type of person who will fork up x-amount of money for an accommodation and feel like it was a waste. I recently wrote about different apps that are user friendly for any traveler out there who love to look at different options in terms of accommodations.
- Create a check list.
One of the things that a lot of travelers worry about is arriving at a destination to find that they’ve forgotten something important. If you’re the same and stress about forgetting something when traveling, the answer could be to create a check list. A couple of weeks before you travel, create a check list of everything that you need to pack. Then, as you’re packing, check off each item. This will help you to ensure that nothing important gets forgotten; I also double and triple check everything to ensure I have everything with me once I take off.
- Choose the right travel buddies.
The people who you choose to travel with can have a big impact on how enjoyable your trip is. So, it’s a good idea to take the time to think it through before asking someone to travel with you. If you’ve traveled with them before and had a great time, then they should make a great companion for your trip. However, if they have a tendency to annoy you, then they may not be the right choice to travel with. Before inviting anyone to join you on a trip, take the time to consider if you two are compatible traveling buddies.
- Take every eventuality into consideration.
Often, the cause of travel stress is worrying about what could go wrong. So, it’s important to ensure that you’ve got every eventuality covered. Before you go, take photocopies of your passport and other travel documents, such as visas, and email them to yourself. That way, should you lose any of your travel documents, you’ve got copies on hand. It could also be worth emailing a copy of your itinerary to a friend or family member who is at home, so that should you lose yours, they can forward it to you. By taking every eventuality into account, you can ensure that no matter what happens, you’re covered. So there’s no need to panic or stress, as no matter what happens, you know that you can sort the problem without too much hassle.
Travel is meant to be relaxing; it’s meant to help you unwind and recharge your batteries, not cause you more stress. However, a lot of us suffer from travel anxiety and get stressed out about certain parts of traveling abroad. From flight delays to navigating new cities, at times travel can be incredibly stressful. Getting overly stressed out can not only ruin your trip but, can also put you off traveling in the future. So it’s important that you know how to reduce the stress that you feel when traveling, to ensure that you have a good time on your next trip abroad.
Hopefully, the tips and suggestions above will help you to do that. Ensuring that your next vacation allows you to get the rest and relaxation that you need. After all, that’s what vacations are all about – unwinding and getting some much-needed downtime.