Vacations are supposed to conjure images of tranquil beaches, a good book in hand, and not a care in the world. What we often forget, however, is that the logistics of planning a trip, not to mention the unpredictability of train and air travel, can encroach on those feelings of excitement and joy.
Travel can be stressful! But the good news is, cutting out vacation-related stress can be simple, as long as you prepare accordingly.
Before you leave all of your usual responsibilities behind for a week of fun, consider making a few quick preparations in order to make sure your vacation goes smoothly.
Whether you’re traveling to an exotic locale or returning to a favorite place, these handy travel tips will help you unwind starting from the moment you leave your house.
1. Pack Smart
We know it’s the advice that everyone offers, but it’s worth repeating because it will make your travels 100x easier: be sure to pack light! Not only will that help reduce the load you need to carry from place to place, but you’ll be able to find things in your bag much more easily. Nothing notches up stress in a moment’s notice like having to dig through an overstuffed suitcase or purse while in the security line to find your favorite cardigan or your passport.
If you’re looking for advice from the pros, these tips will help you organize your suitcase efficiently and keep everything in its proper place. Also, packing smart means making sure to pack appropriately for your destination and bringing items that can work as a double-duty outfit to eliminate extra clothes.
2. Focus on Nutrition and Hydration
Let’s face it, plane food doesn’t have a reputation for being the most delicious, or healthiest, cuisine out there. For long flights, it can help to be prepared with plenty of nutrient-dense foods that are easy to pack and will keep you feeling good and alert, rather than salty, starchy foods that will only make you feel slow and sluggish.
We love the idea of packing fresh fruit like grapes, apples, and oranges, along with snacks that deliver a healthy dose of fats and proteins to keep you full. Think string cheese and almonds, or a hard-boiled egg with some whole wheat crackers.
While it can certainly be tempting to indulge in a drink during your flight—especially if you are an anxious flyer—try to stick to water or keep it to a single drink. Flying is infamously dehydrating, and sugar and booze will only accelerate the process and leave you feeling drained.
Don’t push these tips to the wayside once you arrive either! Staying on track with a mindful diet while traveling is essential to keeping up your energy during long tours and days out on the town. Consider helpful strategies for eating well once you reach your destination to keep your body fueled and happy.
3. Consider Relaxation Techniques
Traveling brings out anxiety in nearly everyone—between the stress of getting to the airport, dealing with airlines, and anticipating a week filled with fun, but also plenty of unknowns and change will leave anyone rattled.
Soothe your nerves with these easy to follow (and do-anywhere) exercises which will help restore a little bit of peace among the chaos.
We also recommend finding ways to stay present once you arrive. Consider these mindful travel strategies that will help you engage with your travel experience on a deeper level. Exercises like yogic breathing is a wonderful way to keep yourself feeling calm and even-keeled, even in the most stressful circumstances.
4. Make Sure You Catch Some Z’s
With all of the excitement (and stress) of travel, it’s important to prioritize rest! If you’re on a long flight and changing time zones, you’ll want to sleep while you can in order to arrive at your destination feeling a little more relaxed and restored, so you can start off your vacation on the right foot.
Of course, sleeping on planes isn’t always as simple as we’d like it to be. Definitely invest in a comfy travel pillow that will help you find a good sleeping position, no matter where you’re seated. Bring an extra layer and a cozy pair of socks in your carry on bag (planes are often cold!)
Be sure to prioritize a good night’s sleep once you get to your vacation destination so you don’t deplete your energy too quickly.
5. Get the Right Tech Support
If you’re like most travelers, your iPad and your iPhone will be your lifelines while on-the-go. From watching movies and keeping busy while you’re in the air to navigating unfamiliar streets, booking tickets, and researching restaurants, you’ll depend on your device a lot.
Make sure you always have what you need to keep your technology charged—nothing ramps up travel stress more quickly than getting lost because you don’t have access to Google Maps, or can’t look up a sight you planned to see!
6. Build in Some “Me” Time When You Arrive
Vacations with others are great, though if you’re the least bit introverted, it can be exhausting to spend days on end with even the most beloved family members or best friends. If you’re traveling with a partner, for work, or with your family or large group, be sure to take some time for yourself and schedule a little bit of “me” time into every trip.
This time will help you engage with your destination in new ways while also helping to mitigate any stress you might have about taking a break from your life back home. Take a cooking class, go for a scenic run, or explore a local market—you’ll soon feel the joy and happiness of travel return to you.
Do you have a favorite travel tip for eliminating stress on vacation? If so, share it in the comments below!