Summer is here. For many of us, that means finally taking off for a well-deserved vacation, but the stress that comes with traveling can ruin even the most perfectly planned trip.
What can you do to enjoy yourself and avoid becoming frazzled in the process? We’ve put together six simple tips to help you keep stress to a minimum while on the road.
1. Carry healthy snacks
When you’re visiting the airport newsstand while awaiting the call to board your flight, it’s hard to resist the wide array of sugary desserts – candy bars, chocolates, jelly beans, all great for the taste buds but terrible for your waistline and your health. These so-called refreshments won’t refresh you at all. They cause a spike in a blood sugar, giving you a short burst of energy, but the crash afterward can sap your energy and ruin your mood.
Instead of giving in to the urge to eat junk food, plan ahead by throwing a few healthy snacks into your bag. Almonds, dried apple chips, pumpkin seeds, or even fresh veggies make for tasty treats that won’t harm your health.
2. Stay extra hydrated before, during, and after your flight
Dehydration is one of the most common problems that occur during travel. Busy travelers often forget to keep up their fluid intake, and they also tend to drink more caffeinated beverages and alcohol instead of water. The low humidity levels in aircraft cabins only exacerbate an already bad situation.
Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. It drains your energy and leaves you feeling lethargic. To counteract these effects, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your flight. Do your best to avoid alcohol, coffee, and tea. They have a diuretic effect and will sabotage your efforts to stay hydrated.
3. Avoid jet lag by timing your meals properly
When you arrive at your destination, circumvent jet lag by eating your meals according to the local schedule. If it’s not mealtime when you land, resist the urge to visit a restaurant immediately after stepping off the plane. The sooner you get your body’s internal rhythm aligned with the local clock, the better you’ll feel.
4. Bring earplugs, headphones, and relaxation music
Whether you’re mid-flight or spending the night in a busy hotel, there’s a good chance the noise level will at times make sleep impossible. There may also be moments when you simply want to sit back and relax but your overly loud surroundings prevent it. Be prepared for the noise by taking along some comfortable foam earplugs.
Before leaving for your trip, pack your headphones and load some relaxation audio tracks on your mobile phone or portable MP3 player. (We recommend the Insight Program and the Serenity Sleep System, but there are many others to choose from.) Whenever you want to feel deeply relaxed or need a bit of help falling asleep in a new place, just slip on your headphones, play your relaxation track, and take a few slow, deep breaths. You’ll be comfortable and stress-free in no time.
5. Bring activities to keep the kids occupied during a flight or long drive
Onboard an aircraft, the last person you want to be is the parent of a screaming child. Handling an unruly toddler is stressful enough at home, but when you add in the confined quarters and the angry stares from other passengers, you end up with a situation that would tax anyone to their limit.
Reduce the odds of a meltdown by bringing along activities to occupy your child. Simple portable games like sticker books or travel scavenger hunts help to pass the time. If your child is old enough to use a tablet or mobile phone, pre-load some games onto the device before leaving. (Be sure to choose games that can be played without an active internet connection when the device is in airplane mode.) If possible, pack your little one’s favorite toy or comfort food.
6. Remember everyone else is just as stressed as you are
Traveling offers an amazing adventure but the hustle and bustle can quickly eat away at your reserves of energy. The crowds, mix-ups in itineraries, constant rushing from place to place, and added strain of being in an unfamiliar place can all add up to a mountain of stress. When people get stressed, they tend to take it out on each other.
Try to always keep in mind that everyone around you is on a journey of their own – whether it’s from one country to another or just from home to their office – and each person is dealing with their own challenges. A bit of extra patience goes a long way toward warding off the stress.
And most importantly…
Don’t forget to have fun! Take time to truly experience your new surroundings, dive in to the local culture, and enjoy the wonders this remarkable world has to offer.