12 Hacks to Combat Travel Stress

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It’s ironic isn’t it? You experience travel stress at the very time you are trying to get away from stresses in your everyday life. It’s not supposed to be that way!

Traveling isn’t all about lying under a palm tree, reading on the beach. Well, sometimes a big part of it is once you are actually settled at your destination.

Generally, there is a lot of stress when you travel, both physically and mentally.

My body really took a toll on me during my first 9 month Round the World trip last year, and it didn’t take long until I realized that I needed to do some serious changes in the way I traveled, if I wanted to continue enjoying it.

Travel Stress 

It’s a vacation, so why is travel stressful? Well, oftentimes there’s a lot to get you from Point A: Your regular life… to Point B: Your vacation. 

Think about planning a vacation. You need to figure time off work and family schedules. Then there is the stress of figuring out how to pay for your vacation. Where to go? There is literally the world from which to choose.

Add to that the deals and better deals that may be out there, and it’s oftentimes difficult to feel confident you are getting the most for your money and that you made the right choices.

There is a lot of pressure to choose the best destination with the amount of time and money you have.

Once you plan your trip, there is additional travel stress in getting ready for your trip. Long before packing and figuring out pet care, stopping your mail, etc., there’s a lot in life you need to finish up before embarking on that trip.

Whew! All of that stress to even before packing and your day of departure.

There’s also the real travel stress of feeling like everything has to be perfect. It’s your holiday after all, you want everything to go as planned. When there is something expected or a setback, it’s easy to feel even more stress when traveling.

Travel stress is real, and it will happen to you. What you can do before you set out on your journey is to learn ways to minimize, and stop it before it derails you.

12 Tips to Stop Stress When You Travel

There are simple things you can do to reduce the amount of stress that comes with traveling. Here are the changes I made to my traveling lifestyle which really helped me to enjoy each moment more.

Stop stress when you travel
Stop stress when you travel

Simplify Your Travel To-Do List

A To-Do List is a list of things you want to do in the place you’re visiting, something that is supposed to be fun, not something you need to do in order to feel content and satisfied with your trip.

But often this list of fun stuff can easily turn into a Must-Do list which normally ends up equaling stress. It’s easy to get caught up with the list, feeling that the trip won’t be “good enough” if you don’t do everything you’ve planned.

All of a sudden I found myself rushing and stressing while obsessively ticking off my To-Do list, not actually enjoying myself at all.

Seeing, doing and experiencing new things is supposed to be something fun, not something you’re stressing out about. If you’re stressed, you won’t enjoy any of ,and it’s just a waste of time, money and effort.

So I started to limit my travel To-Do list, and just chose a few things that I REALLY wanted to do, and that helped me a lot.

If you find that you have lots of time over for other things, then that’s fine. However, take your time and enjoy yourself.  Let there be a gap for spontaneity, because that’s when you really get some memorable experiences on your trip!

Set Up Routines

No matter how much you like adventure, action and uncertainty, we all need some routines in order to feel good. I found that making a routine for small things such as specific times when to eat breakfast and lunch made a big difference.

Your body loves routines. Try to go to bed and wake up the same time everyday. Soon you won’t have to set your alarm, as your body will know naturally when to get up.

Slow Down

Deadlines to get from point A to point B often force you to speed up the tempo of your body. As you know, once you’re in that fast speed you get used to it and that tempo begins to feels normal.

But it’s not until you slow down that you realize how stressful it actually was. When it’s possible, learn how to slow your body down. 

It’s okay if you choose to stay at a place doing nothing for a longer time. Nothing will happen; you’re not going to miss out on anything. Just slow your pace and learn to enjoy the moment — let the stress simply wash away.

Plan – But Don’t Overdo It

Planning can be great for reducing stress. For example, planning a few days before how and when to get to the airport will save you a lot of stress and anxiousness.

Take advantage of the companies out there to help you. For example, Blacklane provides a taxi alternative in more than 180 cities.

By not planning, you might realize the same morning your flight leaves that your hotel doesn’t drive you to the airport, so check those kinds of details so you don’t find yourself at the last minute running to the flight gate.

It’s such an unnecessary thing that creates too much stress, and that extra hour you spend in the city instead of waiting on an airport really isn’t worth the possible stress.

However, by over-planning you can actually create even more stress because you will keep thinking about the future, about what you’re going to do next, and trying to stick with the schedule.

Try to find a nice balance between these two.

Don’t Try to Control the Uncontrollable

There is no use worrying about something you can’t control anyway. Accept whatever happens and deal with it the best way you can. By trying to control something or react to something you can’t do anything about you’re just stressing yourself out for no reason and nothing will get better that way.

Instead ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it, if not, then accept it and let it go. 

This is something I had to practice for a while, but when I started learning how to deal with it, everything suddenly had a complete different flow, and I was actually happier.

Learn to Get Over It and Forgive

Okay you got tricked and paid more than you should have at the street market, or something didn’t quite turn out the way you expected it…. Get over it fast!

Going on and on regretting and complaining about something you can’t change just make things worse. Don’t beat yourself up about things you do, learn to forgive yourself and travel partner for making novice mistakes.

What’s done is done, learn from your mistake and move on. Besides, many things that look dark at the moment, will be a funny memory sooner than you think.

It’s often the mistakes we tend to laugh about the most afterwards, and those are usually the ones people want to hear about as well.

Eat Healthy

Eating whatever food what we want on vacation is something we all look forward to.

Yet, a diet filled with processed foods and fast foods is never good, but especially when traveling. With so many new things around you, your body gets very easily tense and weak.

Eating non-nutritious food gets you clogged up faster, opening you up for sickness. Stress and a bad diet often equals constipation or diarrhea, among other things.

Create Your Own Me Time Space

Make time for your own ‘me-time.’ Take some time and just hang out with yourself.

Traveling in groups or as a couple is a lot of fun, but some quality time with yourself is important; it’s easy to forget about yourself when traveling.

By taking some time to listen to your mind, you’ll find out how you really feel. Often we don’t hear ourselves and don’t understand that we are stressed until our body just collapses on us, or until we take it out on our travel partners.

Be Aware of Changes Within Your Body

In order to ‘heal’ yourself, you first have to be able to recognize problems when they come up. If you notice something different, don’t shake it off right away.

Analyze it a bit, and try to remember when it started and if there are any connections to your traveling.

Find Time to Exercise

Experts say that the best way to manage stress is through exercise. It relaxes the mind and body and increases energy.

It helps you sleep better, gets rid of toxins in your body and can actually make you happier. Exercising causes the release of chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream.

These give you a feeling of happiness and affect your well-being. Exercising when traveling can be tough, but a simple walk can be make you feel better.

Stay by the airport

I know what you’re thinking but wait, I will explain …

I honestly think that it’s worth the extra cash staying somewhere really close to the airport than having to worry about crossing the whole of London at 7am in the morning to get to the airport.

After having tried to reach Stansted Airport early in the morning you will know what kind of stress I’m talking about. The extra money I spent on a taxi there after I found out that no buses go there in time for my flight, I could have spent on one of the Stansted Airport hotels instead.

There are usually airport hotels in every city, and you can get some pretty neat deals and bigger packages like a Gatwick Airport hotel and parking deal. Being woken up by a phone call and having a shuttle bus waiting for you in the lobby was so worth it.

Airport hotels used to have a bad rep because it really was only seen as a purely functional option, but hotel companies are starting to change that now…

Planning Departure Day

Everybody knows that before we can enjoy our holiday we have to grit our teeth and get through the stress, panic, hustle and bustle of the day with the capital D… Departure Day.

It’s not always a pleasant experience but it gets us where we REALLY want to be – on a sunny beach sipping a pina colada.

Another Way To Deal With Departure Day Stress?
Another Way to Deal with Departure Day Stress?

If you don’t have a car, there is always a lot of extra time spent on planning and trying to find a way of getting to the airport in time for the flight.

Once at the airport, finding parking quick and close to the terminal. The inconvenient nightmare that LAX has become due to their new ride sharing policies, you might be better off driving and using LAX parking.

And on the day of departure you run around the apartment making up worst case scenarios of the bus not arriving in time or the taxi not arriving at all.

But there is an easier way to avoid all, or at least most, of the agony associated with pre take-off logistics.

Stress symptoms to be aware of:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Hair-loss
  • Irregular periods
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Suddenly very short tempered
  • Nerve twitches
  • Skin conditions such as acne and eczema
  • Colds and sinus infections
  • Inflammatory illness such as urine infections

In order to reduce stress while traveling you should avoid

  • Having too many belongings; traveling light is less to manage and less to carry
  • Planning too much in one day  
  • Caffeine past noon
  • Tight transportation or tour schedules; leave enough time

How Do We Travel Continuously Without Getting Burnt Out?

A lot of it comes down to how attached you are to having a home. It’s about finding out how much certainty you need in your life.

It seems like the less certainty you need (the more uncertainty you can handle), the longer you can travel and stay happy. One way we found helped a lot when traveling was to create daily routines.

What people really want isn’t a house to call home, but the feeling of structure which that gives them. If your life has some kind of structure, you will feel safer and more certain no matter where in the world you are.

It doesn’t have to be something big, it could be something as small as having a morning routine. To wake up every day at the same time and go for a walk before breakfast, or having your meals at specific times of the day.

Minimize stress when you travel

It also comes down to how you as an individual handle stress and new situations. If you don’t take the time everyday to get into a relaxed state, traveling will burn you out before you know it.

We put A LOT of focus on making sure we do this when we travel. Another important factor is to try and be in the moment and actively be grateful for your life and everything around you.

Maybe on a walk you can take five minutes to think about all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. This usually put things straight if you start to question what the heck you’re doing.

Always worrying about the future can create a lot of stress in your mind. It’s good to think methodically, but not getting attached to the future and what MIGHT happen.

Reduce stress during travel

It is possible to reduce stress when you travel. Rushing through countries and seeing everything doesn’t make the trip any better than staying a bit longer at a place until you feel ready to continue.

Sit back and relax; nothing really is more important than your own personal mental health and safety. Take the world one step at a time, and you will find you can travel for a very long time and STILL enjoy it as much as your first day away. 

Stress from travel is a common problem. Recognizing travel stress symptoms and stopping them early on will make all the difference in your vacation.

International Travel Packing List

(photo credits: gmmail)