How do I travel stress free?
Who doesn’t love holiday time? For most of us, going on holiday offers us as a chance to switch off from daily demands, spend quality time with loved ones, unwind and enjoy whatever type of holiday we love, from lying on a beach, to sight-seeing in the city, to trekking the Himalayas. However, while a holiday should be a time for play and pleasure, according to a survey of 1000 Brits, stress can still create some chaos.1
This survey revealed that, generally speaking, women are more likely to be affected by travel stress compared to men. Planning the actual holiday and the travelling itself were two of the most anxiety-provoking elements. A lack of control tends to be the main underlying factor though, which does make sense when you think about all the variables at play – will your flight be running on time? Will you make that connection? Have you packed everything you need? What if your children start to misbehave?
That’s why today I thought I’d use my prior experience in the travel industry to put forward my personal 10 top tips to help you minimalise anxiety and enjoy a fuss-free, and hopefully stress-free, holiday.
1. Do some sleuthing
Booking an impromptu getaway or an impulsive vacation can be exciting but, if you know that you’re prone to travel stress, a little bit of planning might be in order. That’s why it really pays to do your research about the region you want to travel to as early as possible. This not only helps you to plan a budget (more on that later), but it means that when you arrive you’re familiar with area; you’ll know roughly where it is you might want to eat or what attractions are the most appealing.
You can also plan out your journey more thoroughly and have some time to familiarise yourself with transport options rather than arriving in that country and having no idea how to get from the airport to your hotel. Speaking of hotels, a little bit of sleuthing also allows you to investigate your accommodation options thoroughly – the last thing you want to do is book a hotel, only to find that there was a better deal elsewhere. Resources such as Tripadvisor and Trivago are definitely your friends here so don’t be afraid to take advantage of them – the more you know, the fewer unwelcome surprises you’ll have in the long run.
2. Start to budget early
If you’re worried about stretching your budget a little bit too thin then my advice would be to start putting money aside as early as possible and to give yourself plenty of time to get your savings in order. If you’ve done your sleuthing properly, you should have an idea of how expensive things will be so use this to your advantage. Calculate realistically how much you’re going to be able to put aside each month and try to stick to that target.
It also helps to book in advance too – don’t go and book a holiday for July when it’s already April as otherwise you will find yourself floundering at the last minute. It also helps to be aware of peak seasons – if you’re booking a holiday for June, July or August then it’s naturally going to be that little bit pricier whereas if you hold off until September, or take advantage of that bank holiday in May, you may find that things are a little bit more affordable.
3. Get your documentation in order
If you’re worried that your passport needs renewed or you need to sort out visa details, then don’t leave this to the last minute. In fact, getting the relevant documents in order should be your number one priority after booking your trip. If you booked through a travel agent or tour operator, all necessary information should be provided. If you booked online though, here are a few important things you don’t want to forget!
- Do you need a visa or any vaccinations?
- When does your passport expire? (Some countries require at least 6 months validity for entry)
- Have you got adequate travel insurance? Make sure you are looked after in the event of cancellation, illness, accident or lost luggage
- Are you hiring a car? Check that you have 'excess protection cover’ to avoid significant charges locally, or a huge sum should the car be damaged
- For added peace of mind, double check with your car hire company about recent changes to UK driving licenses
- Are you using a mobile app for your boarding pass? Be sure your phone is fully charged or keep a paper copy with you.
4. Take care of work prep
We’ve all been there, rushing at the last minute to cram a fortnight’s worth of work into a single week in anticipation of taking time off. To avoid long days and sleepless nights whilst managing the pre-holiday workload, plan ahead for deadlines, request back up if need be and discuss important matters with bosses and colleagues before you go. Modern technology keeps us available 24/7 which can make it hard to switch off. Leave office work in the ofﬁce and remember that your brain needs a holiday too! Don’t be tempted to take your work laptop with you or hint that you’ll still be available by email.
5. Use your common sense when packing
Under-packing, over-packing, having to pack for the family, trying to cover every eventuality, leaving it all until the last minute…any of these sound familiar? If so, make life easier and avoid any unnecessary expenses at the airport!
- Write a check list of all the items you need to take and tick it off as you pack them (this is also useful in the rare event of lost luggage). To save time try this pre-prepared version
- Start packing a week or two beforehand
- Double check facilities and appliances at your destination to avoid taking unnecessary items
- If the weather is likely to vary, think layers! Pack clothes that can be built up or taken off!
- If you can't choose which clothes to take, pick a simple colour range for a few key outﬁts.
6. Manage your expectations
The beach dweller? The sightseer? The retreater? The book reader? The intrepid traveller? Whether you are travelling with family, a partner or a group of friends, it is more than likely that you will encounter differing ideas about how to spend time. Compromising is part of the holiday-making experience so it’s useful to manage and discuss differing expectations with your co-travellers ahead of time and make sure you all at least get a chance to see what you want to see.
It’s also important to remember to be flexible. With the combo of boats, planes, trafﬁc, foreign cultures, different climates, young children, not to mention unforeseeable events, things often don't go as planned. Keep a sense of humour, be realistic about what you can and can't ﬁt in and remember to relax. If you can't wind down on holiday, when can you?
7. Think about your health
Travelling can definitely take it out of you: from pre-holiday stress to jet lag to mosquito bites and tummy bugs. It can really feel as though you have to be prepared for anything as getting caught off guard so far away from home can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately, here at A.Vogel we have a fantastic range of products that you can take advantage of in the lead up to, and during, your holiday.
For example, if you’re worried about insect bites, you could try taking some of our Neem Insect Spray with you on your trip. Alternatively, if you’re more worried about your immune system, our Echinacea Drops would be a good pick here. However, one problem that seems to universally persist is the fear of tummy troubles abroad! That’s why remedies such as Digestisan (bloating and indigestion) and Tormentil (bowel spasms) remain so popular.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, you really need to think about how you’re going to stay hydrated. If you’re holidaying somewhere hot and sunny, you can be really at risk of becoming dehydrated which, in turn, can lead to all sorts of problems. That’s why taking a couple of sachets of our Balance Mineral Drink with you might be a nice idea as this not only helps to fight fatigue, it can also restore your levels of crucial fluid-balancing electrolytes!
8. Prepare yourself if you’re travelling by plane
Flying can be a daunting experience and there’s a lot to consider – getting to the airport on time, getting through security and the ever-present fear of cancellations or delays. That’s not even taking into consideration that as many as 10% of us could be harbouring a fear of flying!2 So, how do you go about navigating this potential minefield of stress triggers?
Well, firstly you have to accept that some things are beyond your control – cancellations and delays, for example, so there’s no point really worrying about these. Secondly, give yourself plenty of time. If you feel as though you’re going to be rushing, then why not invest in a ‘fast pass’ through security? These are usually easy to download and should only cost you a few extra pounds!
Finally, if you are a nervous flyer, it’s important to take steps to make yourself feel more at ease with the journey ahead. In my blog, ‘How to calm your fear of flying’, I discuss 10 ways to address your anxieties by taking control of your diet, utilising self-help techniques or trying a stress remedy like AvenaCalm, which can help to gently relax your nervous system, enabling you to cope easier with stressful emotions and promoting a sense of calm.
9. Avoid the rush
Leaving work and dashing to the airport or ﬂying back and dashing to work tend to increase the pre or post-holiday stress levels. Give yourself a break if possible and allow a day at the end of your holiday, if not at the beginning as well. It might look like a good idea to maximise holiday time, book that last ﬂight home, then rush into work but that rapid re-entry into everyday life may just banish the beneﬁts of your well-earned break. With a day at home to adjust and unpack you are more likely to prolong the positives.
10. Think about combating the post-holiday blues
Post-holiday blues knocking on the door now you’re home again? Returning back to the humdrum of your usual routine after a great trip away can be really disheartening so I’d recommend taking this into account too! You could try making plans so that when you do come home, you still having something small to look forward to, whether it’s a dinner with friends or catch-up with family.
It might also help to think about what it was about the holiday you enjoyed the most? Quality time with family or friends? Time to relax and unwind? A chance to visit new places? If you can identify the key values that made your holiday special, take time to think about how you could meet these needs more regularly in your day to day life, and if all else fails start planning your next holiday!
(Originally published 30/07/15, updated 26/03/19)