While traveling is a great way to relieve stress, the amount of detail and organization that goes into packing and gearing up for a big trip can make even the most well-traveled person break a sweat. Fortunately, there are practical ways to plan ahead in order to eliminate travel anxiety—from maximizing your packing efficiency to simplifying pre-travel tasks. For worry-free vacation preparation, check out our top tips for reducing travel stress.
1. Make a packing and pre-travel checklist
Savvy travelers create master packing lists. Add all your important toiletry needs, electronics, and things you might forget in your usual wardrobe, like a bathing suit or hiking boots. Have a section for important items such as your passport, ID, debit cards, and medication, then pack those together in a specific folder or bag. That way you’ll be less likely to think you lost or forgot it once you’re on your way. Don’t forget to list out important pre-travel tasks like arranging a house or pet sitter, notifying your bank and/or credit card companies of your international travel plans, and turning off the air-conditioning and electronics upon leaving.
2. Give yourself enough time
Don’t let yourself get in a rush. If you have things you can start to pack a week in advance, don’t wait to do it. Give yourself ample time to get to the airport, and in addition, if you’ve booked connecting flights, be sure you’ve padded in time for delays and flight disruptions. If you need to see family or friends before you leave, make time to see them a couple days ahead of your departure, so that your goodbyes don’t collide with your final packing. Lastly, let yourself take a day or half-day off from work the day before you leave. This will give you more time to get through packing and to do lists.
3. Research your destination
If your anxiety stems from what happens when you actually land in your new destination, reduce your travel stress by doing research beforehand. While guidebooks will tell you what top sights and restaurants not to miss, don’t forget about practical travel logistics. Learn a few phrases of the local language, research common scams, see what kind of electrical outlets are used, and if tap water is drinkable. Preparing for the little things makes a big difference.
4. Thoroughly review your tour documents
One very useful way to reduce travel anxiety is to sit down and go through all your tour/travel documents beforehand. Do you have six months of validity left on your passport? Did you research if a visa is required for your destination? This is the time to go over everything, step by step. These documents will also contain helpful destination tips and itinerary details. Put your flight and hotel information, trip itinerary, and other important documents in a folder, and keep them in your carry-on bag. You’ll be able to alleviate many travel worries knowing you won’t be panicked at the airport wondering if you missed something.
5. Invest in your safety
Accidents can happen whether you’re at home or on the road, so make sure you’re completely covered, particularly if you’re traveling internationally. Buy travel insurance, then read the fine print. Check with your credit card coverage and see if you have travel perks already included, such as rental car insurance, trip cancellation, or lost luggage. This will give you peace of mind on your trip and could possibly save yourself from spending a lot of time and money if the worst case scenario does happen.
6. Manage your expectations
Like life, even the most well-executed ideas never go as planned. On your trip, you will inevitably encounter common anxiety-provoking travel scenarios, such as bad weather, long lines, or getting lost, but don’t let the idea of something going wrong completely derail your trip. Focus on the positives and remind yourself why you decided to take this trip in the first place. Remember that some of the most memorable moments are often unplanned.
7. Get a travel companion
Solo travel isn’t for everyone, so if you’re feeling stressed about embarking on your adventure alone, invite a friend! You can really counteract travel anxiety by traveling with someone already familiar with the pre-travel process. Travel companions provide that much-needed encouragement and sense of security. Plus, the memories you make with someone you love will be an added bonus—and you’ll be thankful having someone to chat with in long security lines!
8. Find a key way to relax
After you’ve thoroughly prepared for your big trip, you might still feel knots in your stomach. Another helpful tip to reduce your pre-travel stress is to master a relaxation technique—breathing deeply, exercising to get out nervous energy, taking a stroll outside, meditating, or even distracting yourself with some favorite music, a tv show, or podcast. Any or all of these techniques could be used before or during your trip in order to calm your mind.
It’s undeniable that travel preparation can cause stress and worries, even among the most avid adventurers. But, these suggestions can help you ward of the pre-trip butterflies and jitters. Ultimately, it’s essential to remember that you’re going on the trip of a lifetime and you will have amazing memories and stories to tell no matter what!