Travel is an exciting adventure, even a realization of a dream or years of planning. We plan our trips and get excited with anticipation for all the fun, adventure, and personal growth we hope to find. At this moment I’m planning a trip to the far north of Finland close the Arctic Circle to spend time with the Sami people. I’m very excited but what comes with travel sometimes is a bit of stress and anxiety to make sure everything is planned and ready before I head out.
Over the many years I have been traveling I have found small ways to reduce the stress, anxiety, or possibility for mishaps. Travel will always have it’s ups and downs no matter how much effort and planning you put in, but you can make it less of an impact by just doing a few small things. The most important tip I can give is to remember that travel has the power to change us, to change the world, if we open ourselves to its transformative power and look deep into ourselves as we make our walk around the world.
Here are 9 small ways to reduce stress and make things a bit more comfortable while you travel. What are you favorite ways to bring small comforts as you travel?
This is a tough one to master because too much planning can also cause stress. As you think of the destination you want to visit, start doing research about what activities you want to do, where you want to stay and how you will get around once there. Is it better to travel by train once in country or are domestic flights a better option? With the internet and countless books and forums you can really figure out as much as you want before you go on any trip. Working out simple details like this, will really help reduce any unneeded stress. It is also important to do your research with an eye for responsible practices and sustainability. Make sure to ask the right questions of companies or individuals you talk to about what to do. Your travel has the power to create positive change in the world and it is easy to do those small things.
Give Yourself Extra Time
With more and more people traveling, gone are the days of arriving to the airport an hour before your flight and casually walking onto the plane. We arrive at least three hours early before we fly this gives us time to get catch the shuttle, go through security checks and grab a beer before we board our flight (another tip for reducing stress:). It is nice to have a bit of time to relax before you board any flight, time to reflect on the journey ahead, to get last minute things you might have forgotten, and to prepare your mind and heart for what is to come. Creating an aura of peace as you move through airports and transit helps to set the tone for the whole trip.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can pack less. No matter how much or how little you pack, you can always bring less. This has taken us time to master but not having to check a bag if you don’t need to saves so much time and stress. You can skip the check in counter and go straight to security and it also saves money on checked bag fees as well. Ask yourself this: how much do I really need to be happy? Do I really need 5 pairs of shoes? Or 4 different jackets? Do I really need a third toothbrush or that special bottle of shampoo? Try to whittle down your packing to the bear necessities, then remove 20% more. Remember too that for staples such as toothbrushes, headphones, hygiene products, even clothes like socks and shirts, you can always get some when you arrive, and in most places in the world that stuff will be cheaper than at home.
Check in On-Line
This one goes hand in hand with packing light. Without checked bags you can check in online 24 hours ahead and go straight to security with your boarding pass at the airport. Walk by all those poor saps in the check in line and enjoy that ice cold drink in the boarding area with time to spare. We always check in online before our flights and save our boarding passes to our phone or print them out if we can. That way when we get there we can breeze right through.
Transit Care Package
Anyone who has ever taken a long haul flight understands how uncomfortable it can be at times. The dry air, the lack of sleep, the sore butt. We always like to pack ourselves a little care package that we will have with us under our seat that give us those small luxuries that make those long flights a little more bearable. This list is not complete, but gives you an idea of what we bring.
- Rejuvenating Face Mask
- Neck Pillow
- Playlist of our favorite tunes
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
Get And Use Mobile Passport
For those traveling from the US, this app can cut your transit time in half, or more. The Mobile Passport App is a great time and stress saver when entering back into the country. It is a free app you can download into your phone, enter all your info, and proceed directly to the customs desk and skip the line to have your passport checked.. This has saved us so much time after getting off a long flight! Check out the website here and see if it works for you.
Travel With A Local
One of the best things about traveling is getting to know the local people. Whenever we travel and wherever we travel we always invest in a locally owned and operated company to show us the area and teach us about the culture and history. Besides being a huge contributor to a more immersive and transformative experience, it takes away the stress from having to figure out everything on your own. Our best travel experiences have been a good mix of independent exploration and locally sourced guides and excursions. Finding that balance is key to having the best possible trip.
When traveling it is important to take time to relax and rejuvenate. Give yourself a rest day. Get a massage. Splurge on a fancy hotel for one night to recuperate from your travels. One great thing we like to do is build days into our trip where we purposely have not plans, no activities, and can just roam wherever we are with no place in mind and no idea what we might discover. This opens up cool new experiences but also helps you clear your mind and recover your body during a trip.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Travel is fun and let’s face it, a privilege to be able to go and see the world. No matter what, having a good attitude and letting whatever happens comes your way is going to be the best stress reliever. Remember that you chose to leave home for a reason and what you hoped to discover on the road. Try to live in the moment and you’ll realize that no matter how catastrophic or stressful a moment might be, the gift of that experience is worth more than anything and will be what changes you forever.