Traveling should be an enjoyable experience. However, the mere idea of a getaway can send you into a nervous frenzy that will make you reconsider taking a trip in the first place. We get it: some stress is inevitable, but luckily, there are plenty of ways to reduce the stress associated with travel.
Pair Your Vacation With Meditation
Breathe and relax. A little meditation never hurt anyone. A 2016 University of California-San Francisco study found that everyone can benefit from both vacation and meditation, but the long-term effects of stress are further reduced by mindfulness (Psychology Today). The common misconception about meditation is that you have to be barefoot in a quiet room with your eyes closed and yogi music playing in the background. The truth is you can meditate anytime, anywhere. Sure, it may seem unconventional to practice meditation in a crowded airport, or on a plane, next to a crying baby. However, such stressful situations present the perfect opportunity to practice some simple deep-breathing techniques and mentally disconnect from your surroundings.
Make a Pre-Trip Checklist
When it comes to traveling, preparation is paramount. Failure to prepare can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Heaven forbid you forget to pack your passport before heading to the airport for an international flight. We suggest making a list of all of the things that you need to accomplish before you travel. This should include a packing list of essentials that may not be available at your destination. Think prescribed medications, important documents, and your cell phone (hey, it’s not uncommon to forget the most important device in your life).
Say No to Procrastination
Don’t just make the list; work through it and check off the items as you go. Who wants to be scrambling to shop and pack the evening before a trip? Getting the important stuff out of the way in advance won’t only save you money, but also minimize stress.
Curl Up With a Good Book
Reading has been scientifically proven to combat stress. When you read, you are able to escape life’s stressors my immersing yourself in the literary world. A 2009 study conducted at University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by 68% (The Telegraph, UK), so when you’re preparing for your next trip, don’t forget to bring a book along for the ride.
Stay Active and Eat Well
It’s easy to neglect your body when you travel. From long plane rides that leave you stiff and sore to poor food options, maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the go can be a struggle. When planning your trip, opt for hotels with pools and fitness centers, and make a point to sneak in some cardio during your stay.
“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.” – Anxiety and Depression Association of America
When it comes to food, try packing your own snacks for your next flight. Solid foods like carrots, dried fruits, and granola are TSA-proof and may be healthier options than snacks served on the plane. Once onboard, skip that tempting glass of wine, as it may dehydrate you.
Travel During Non-Peak Times
The majority of Americans tend to travel on a seasonal basis. If you experience anxiety from large crowds, avoid traveling in July, November, and December. Planning your vacation during non-peak travel times usually means, shorter TSA lines, lower airfares, and ultimately, less stress.