Whenever I set out for a big vacation, I always expect a certain amount of travel related stress. There’s a lot that’s out of my hands. I can’t predict if my flight will be on time or if traffic getting to the airport will be gridlocked. I can’t do anything about the attitudes of my fellow travelers or the airline staff. Whether my checked bag makes it from Point A to Point B is out of my control. But there are some sources of travel related stress a bit closer to home.
I find that when I’m disorganized or rushed my level of travel related stress soars. So, in order to make my adventures as pain-free as possible, there are a few rules I live by to decrease travel related stress. Here are the top contenders.
There’s nothing worse than lying awake the night before a flight making a mental list of everything I forgot to buy or pack. This used to be a common trigger for travel related stress for me until I learned to plan. These days, I make a list of everything I’ll need as soon as I book my ticket. Then I slowly check things off the to-do list at my leisure until the day when it’s time to take off. This ensures that I get everything done without rushing or stressing.
The first few times I traveled, I was determined to bring an outfit not only for every day, but for basically every potential situation that there was a slim chance I might encounter. I way over-packed, which meant I was lugging around a huge checked bag for the duration of my travels. I eventually learned to only pack what I need by, again, making a list and mapping out my daily itinerary. Then, I pack precisely the right number of outfits.
It might seem like a good plan to stay up late the night before a flight — the better the chance of you drifting off on the plane, right? — but that’s only if you forget everything that it takes to actually get to the flying part of traveling. It’s important that I’m alert while I pack, grab an Uber, check in at the airport and find my gate. Then I’m ready to snooze. So, I try to go to bed early the night before a flight and get a solid eight hours in order to be ready for my travel.
The airport concourse may be a runway for celebs flying into LAX, but as I eventually learned, no paparazzi were waiting to snap my photo just beyond security. So, I try to wear a comfortable and practical ensemble when I travel, like yoga pants and a loose-fitting t-shirt with a few layers on top. You can never really predict what the temperature will be like in the airport or the plane’s cabin, so it’s nice to have options. And when I wear comfy clothing, I’m always ready to nap.
I feel better when I eat better, plain and simple. So, I try not to use travel as an excuse to totally abandon my normal pattern of eating healthy and drinking lots of water. I usually bring my empty water bottle to the airport and fill it up past security (most airports have filtered-water stations incorporated into their drinking fountains). I also try to bring some healthy snacks along and fill up with a salad or something else nourishing before my flight.
One of the most anxiety-inducing things about traveling is running late for my next mode of transportation. That’s why I always err on the side of caution and leave 30 minutes earlier than necessary to give myself a big buffer. If I’m traveling internationally, sometimes I give myself an extra hour. Then, I’m still not left running through the airport Home Alone-style.
Even when I plan my travel down to the tiniest detail, there’s always at least one thing that goes awry (if not more). As I mentioned before, I only have so much control over how my globetrotting goes down. But when I follow these rules, nothing can totally derail my vacation.
If you have a big trip coming up, consider enacting some of these tips right now. You might be surprised by how effective the simple act of making a packing list is at keeping you zen about your upcoming travels. Perhaps planning will totally transform your vacation experience — I know it did for me!