While travel has always been a somewhat stressful experience, increased airport security and other factors have made travel even more stressful in recent years. Whether you’re traveling for business, vacation, or to see loved ones, there are simple steps you can take to reduce the stress of your next trip. The following tips can help make travel a bit easier on you.
Stay abreast of delays by checking your airline’s website before you leave home, so you can avoid spending hours sitting in a waiting room. Airports’ websites are useful too, as they can inform you of security measures that are in place ahead of time, so you can plan for them. Waiting for a taxi or trying to find a hotel once you arrive at your destination can sometimes be frustrating, so make any necessary reservations ahead of time (local hotels can likely refer you to the local car or taxi services, too.)
You can save yourself significant stress by packing wisely for your trip. Make a list of all the things you may need to bring with you, and check them off as you pack them to better ensure that you don’t leave behind things you’ll need. Pack the night before you leave, or earlier, to avoid the stress of being rushed and give yourself the opportunity to remember and pack things you may otherwise forget. Keep things you may need at the ready while in transit in your carry-on bag, but stow the rest of your items in your checked luggage to reduce your chances of getting held up at security points.
Dress for Comfort
While passengers used to dress up for flights in days past, we now know how important it is to dress for comfort when traveling. Be sure you wear comfortable shoes (for rushing through the airport and walking to and from your car, which may need to be parked far away). Also, be sure to wear clothes that you can comfortably move in and don’t mind wearing all day. Wear layers if you’re traveling somewhere that has a cold climate; you’ll be warm on the airplane, but cold once you arrive.
Take Care of Your Body
Take your vitamins, get quality sleep the night before your trip, and have some stress relievers on hand to decrease your chances of getting sick from the stress of travel and the germs in the re-circulated air in the airplane. (Nothing can stress you more than seeing your carefully planned trip get sidelined by a case of the sniffles—or worse.)
Allowing yourself ample time before your flight can reduce some of the stress of finding parking, checking bags, moving through security, and other aspects of travel that are much more stressful when you’re rushed. If you end up being early, you can read a book, listen to music, or take a walk through the airport and get some exercise before you leave. If you get held up in the process of getting to your plane, at least you won’t have to spend energy worrying about missing your flight.
Eat Well Beforehand
Eating a healthy meal before you get to the airport can help reduce stress in several ways: You’ll avoid buying expensive airport food, won’t have to rely on an in-flight meal (of sometimes dubious nutritional value and taste), and won’t have to worry as much about your blood sugar levels becoming imbalanced as you travel (which can affect your mood).
Have a Few Quick Stress Relievers On-Hand
If you get overwhelmed, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and other quick stress relievers can help you feel calm more quickly.
Have the Right Attitude
Rather than thinking of all this as a stressful hassle, think of it as an adventure—or at the very least, a challenge. With the right attitude (and other preparations), traveling can be much less stressful.
- Put metal items (like keys) in your carry-on bag rather than your pockets, so you won’t have to empty your pockets of them as you pass through the airport metal detector.
- Travel early in the day; earlier flights are less likely to be delayed.
- Bring a distraction, such as an interesting new book, so delays and long flights will be an opportunity to relax.
Author: Elizabeth Scott, MS
Elizabeth Scott, MS is a wellness coach, author, and award-winning blogger. She has experience as an individual and couples counselor, workshop facilitator, smoking cessation counselor, social science researcher, and educator. She has written many articles about stress management, health, interpersonal skills and relationship dynamics. Her coaching work involves teaching stress management as well as finding meaning and fulfillment, lifestyle balance, prioritizing and goal setting, health maintenance and other life-enhancing habits. She’s been interviewed on national television and radio, and in national publications such as CNN, Good Housekeeping, Glamour, Essence, Inc. and Woman’s Day. On a personal level, her own busy life with work and family has also taught her a great deal about stress management and personal balance.
Find out more about 8 Keys to Stress Management and sign up for one of her upcoming stress management webinars. You can also read more about Elizabeth’s current and past work on her Google Profile: Elizabeth Scott.