Travel Tips: How to Relieve Stress on the Road
For all its wonders and delights, travel also can be stressful. Even experienced travelers may have a sleepless night before a trip (oh those restless dreams of missed flights and lost luggage), or find themselves halfway through an adventure feeling a little wistful for their own bed and familiar food.A little stress is healthy; it keeps you on your toes. But too much is dangerous: half of all deaths of Americans traveling abroad are due to heart attacks, according to an article in the Harvard Health Letter. Less dramatically, stress can make for cranky travelers, affect sleep and digestion, and even discourage some people from traveling.
A little planning and attention to how to relieve stress can leave you more energy for travel's wonders and delights.
BEFORE YOU GO
Think about all the things that can go wrong on a trip and plan accordingly. Bring snacks, for example, in case you get stuck in traffic or on the runway.
Block out an itinerary so that at least some of the trip is planned and (assuming everything goes according to plan, which it may or may not) you have some predictability, and don't have to make a million decisions every day. Build downtime into the itinerary to leave room for serendipity, and rest.
Get a medical check-up, especially if your trip will involve physical challenges like hiking or even a lot of sightseeing on foot.
Pack medications in a carry-on and bring the generic names with you, in case you need to replace them abroad.
Pack lightly so you don't have to drag too much around.
Pack dietary fiber, since travel constipation is actually far more common than travelers' trots.
Leave a list of things that must be done when you return home, so nothing important is forgotten in the interim.
Clean the house and change the sheets to prepare for the stress of returning home.
ON THE ROAD
Leave plenty of time to navigate airports and train stations so you aren't always rushing. Get there early and enjoy the people watching.
Don't neglect self-care: Eat when you're hungry, drink when you're thirsty, rest when you're tired.
Know your limits. Some nights, you just want room service and early to bed. That doesn't make you a bad traveler.
Cut your gut a break and limit big, fatty meals.
Drink water, even if you have to buy bottles. Take it easy on the soda pop and cocktails, which are dehydrating. (Especially while flying, which is itself dehydrating.)
If you're traveling without your spouse or partner, check in often, for everyone's peace of mind.
Try to schedule at least one day after you get home to decompress before returning to work or school or whatever reality awaits you.
Prioritize the tasks waiting for you so you don't feel overwhelmed. One thing at a time: sort the mail, buy groceries, do laundry.
If you traveled without a spouse or partner, remember that there's stress on the home front too, so show your appreciation.
More tips to help you travel better:
How to Find Under the Radar Travel Spots
Group Trips: How to Plan a Smooth Getaway
Flying With Kids: How to Avoid a Cataclysm in Seat 9B
How to Communicate Abroad When You Don't Speak the Local Language