Leave Anxiety at the Door: How to Travel the Stress-Free Way

In December 2013, famed happiness researcher Shawn Achor conducted a study about travel that bore shocking results: not all vacations relieve stress. In fact, some vacations induce it. According to Achor, “Poorly planned and stressful vacations eliminate the positive benefit of time away.” Anxiety over accommodations and belongings can make a once-in-a-lifetime vacation turn sour quickly, which is why, when it comes to vacationing, it pays to be as well-arranged as possible.

To make the most out of your trip and ensure that you come back feeling rejuvenated, check out our top tips for stress-free travel:

Be Thoughtful About Travel Logistics

We’ve all been there before. You want to get the cheapest flight available, so you convince yourself that a layover in London en route to Toronto from New York City won’t be that big of a pain. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that inconvenient itineraries like this often lead to stress. If you’re going on vacation, it’s often worth shelling out a few extra dollars for a sensible flight that maximizes your time away. In the short term, coughing up the extra cash won’t feel great, but it will likely be well worth it in the long run.

In general, the more complicated you make your trip itinerary, the more chances there are for something to go wrong. So we also recommend, for example, that you avoid scheduling flights with tight connections or multiple layovers. As long as you plan your trip at least a month ahead of time, there should be plenty of affordable and convenient flights for you to choose from that could lessen your stress.

Purchase Travel Insurance

From delayed or cancelled flights to lost luggage, travel hardships can strike at any time. That is why we cannot say it enough: travel insurance is the greatest investment you can make for your vacation. If you’re not too familiar with what travel insurance is and why it’s so important, you can learn more about it here. And, thankfully, peace of mind doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – there are lots of different travel insurance plans to choose from, so you can make sure you get covered for exactly what you need for your particular trip.

To make it as easy as possible, we’ve thought through the most common travel styles and determined which types of insurance make most sense for each here. If you have any questions as you’re trying to figure out which insurance plan is right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of helpful humans!

Do Your Research

In Shawn Achor’s study, 74% of respondents found the most stressful aspect of traveling to be figuring out the details once you’re in your destination. Evidently, navigating local transportation options, planning the logistics of sightseeing days, and being uncertain of our surroundings really stresses people out.

To avoid this kind of anxiety, we recommend that you get to know your destination ahead of time and learning about the environment you’ll be in. Familiarize yourself with the location of your country’s embassy and the neighborhood surrounding your accommodations. Do some research on the city’s public transportation system and currency exchange options. Make a few dinner reservations ahead of time. Or, to really make the most of your experience, find a local host. Lots of companies specialize in setting tourists up with local guides who can help them cut through the distractions and get to the most fabulous sights a city has to offer.

The more you learn and understand your destination in advance, the better you’ll feel, so dive head-first into the research stage and have fun planning your getaway.

Be Prepared for the Unknown

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—the easiest way to avoid stress on vacation is by being prepared. Here’s a checklist of things to do to ensure you’re ready to go for your trip:

  • Make copies of your passport, license, and emergency contact information. Keep one set in your baggage, another in your day bag, and leave the final copy with a friend or relative back home, who can send it to you if need be.
  • Bring a basic first-aid kit that includes alcohol pads, allergy medications, pain relievers and any other over-the-counter essentials you keep in your cupboard at home. You’ll feel better knowing that Advil and Neosporin are always nearby, just in case.
  • Refill your prescriptions and pack them in your carry-on bags so that they’ll be easily accessible at all times. Some people only pack as many of their medications as they’ll need for the number of days they plan to be away, but in our opinion it’s always smart to have a few extra on hand. Some prescriptions aren’t available in certain places.
  • Print out reservations and itineraries ahead of time. You will likely be asked for reservation numbers and confirmation codes over and over again on your vacation. Make this process easy by having a folder with all of your reservation information. If you want to take it a step further, organize that folder by date so that details for the beginning of your trip are on top and easy to find.
  • Check in on your cell phone plan. You know what’s stressful? Unexpected roaming charges. Make sure you understand your phone plan and its international offerings before you take off.

In general, the best advice we can offer for keeping your travels worry-free is to think about what causes your anxiety and plan around it. A vacation is meant to relax and refresh you, so it’s worth doing whatever you need to avoid stressors.

Do you have any tips for eliminating stress while traveling? If so, we want to hear from you! Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter, or tag us in your travel stories on Instagram. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of friendly humans who are more than happy to help you find the right travel insurance policy for your next trip!

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