Often travel is related to vacations that are intended to reduce stress, but for many of us, just the thought of embarking on a trip can induce pressure and mental strain. What’s worse is the strain can lead to a negative experience when you are supposed to be on vacation.
The necessary planning, transportation experiences from airplanes to rent-a-cars, safety considerations regarding destinations, and finances can all add up to a rather large headache and cause you to wonder if traveling is all it’s hyped up to be.
Travel can be exceptionally rewarding thanks to new cultural experiences, making memories with loved ones, and relaxation time. So, it may be the pre-planning of packing, organizing transportation and an itinerary, and financial considerations that are the real stressors. The worst scenario is if you are trying to get away from work or home stress, only to find yourself enveloped in travel stress.
So, what can you do to reduce stress when traveling? Try these tips from the experts.
Here are some of the top tips for reducing stress before you even leave home.
Money issues can drive anyone mad and affect every aspect of life including travel. Where you go, how you go, where you stay, and whatever activities you hope to engage in will all be influenced by your budget.
Whether you save all year for a trip or enjoy a healthy income that permits travel, worrying about expenses, especially unforeseen costs can create stress to the point that you don’t enjoy your travel.
- Tips: Plan your travel within your financial limits. Make a budget and then work on sticking to it so you are comfortable spending what you do. Opt for relaxation and memory-making as opposed to expensive destinations.
Book transportation and lodging in advance to save money and research what you plan on doing so you feel comfortable with prices. Consider lodging that uses key card locks for doors and doesn’t require keys that you might lose. Know how much credit card insurance coverage you have in the event your luggage is lost, a flight is canceled, a health emergency happens, and more.
Make sure you understand the local currency and exchange rates for where you are headed. Also look into tipping and typical costs for meals, taxis, museum visits, and more.
Planning your trip may prove to be the most stressful part of traveling, save for unforeseen emergencies. You’ll need to research where you plan on visiting and what you want to do once there and then formulate an itinerary. This can be very stressful if you are going it alone as opposed to a group tour. If you feel this is overwhelming, a good travel agent can step in and do lots of the leg work for you.
- Tips: Start early and take your time researching and planning. Keep your research and notes all in one place for easy consultation and begin with lists of what you need to do before you walk out the door. These might include getting a house sitter for your plants and fur babies, completing work assignments, getting passports, any necessary visas, an international driver’s license, and possibly health insurance.
Program your preparations, doing a little every day or week leading up to your departure. Prepare a program book for yourself with all your travel stops info and make a copy for a loved one at home for emergencies. Look for a guidebook about your destination and what you plan on visiting.
Know something about local customs and even a few essential words in the local language such as “where is the restroom”. Also, plan for your transportation on arrival. Will you be renting a car, taking a bus, hopping on a train, or using a hotel pickup? Plan some excursions or visits, but allow time for spontaneity and relaxation.
If you are planning on visiting an exotic destination, research crime statistics and any common problems that occur for tourists such as kidnappings, violent gun crime, or terrorist attacks in the area. No place on earth is entirely safe, so the same risks you find at home, you may easily find elsewhere. If the destination fills you with worry, consider selecting an alternative. If language is a problem in the event of an emergency, know where the nearest embassy or consulate is to your destination in the event you require assistance.
- Tips: Check the government’s list of destinations to avoid, as well as travel and safety warnings. Use the internet to find feedback from people that have recently traveled to your destination for expats actually living there.
When out and about, be aware of your surroundings, and inform someone as to where you are headed. Avoid wearing ostentatious jewelry or valuables that may attract attention.
Make copies of passports, credit cards, travel tickets, and more, and store them in a safe place such as the cloud for future consultation. Bring along a money belt to safely secure valuables or leave them in the hotel’s safe if there is one.
Make sure you have sufficient travel and health insurance for your destination and write down local contact numbers for your consulate, law enforcement, and medical help just in case. Have any necessary medical prescriptions with you.
Visiting a new destination can be exhilarating or terrifying. Expect a bit of the unexpected and allow yourself time in between activities for unforeseen events. While you won’t be able to program the weather, civil unrest, or natural disasters, you will be able to manage them with good preparation, proper documentation, advance bookings, and some spirit of adventure!