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Managing Stress while Traveling

Traveling is a great source of enjoyment. Seeing the open road, hearing the sound of bells ringing in the next town, and feeling the sand between your toes is unparalleled.

Traveling can also be a great source of stress due to multiple factors. To truly enjoy your travels, it’s important to anticipate possible stressors and know how to handle them before you arrive at your destination.

1. Transportation conundrums. Not only is transportation often out of our control, there is a large margin for error. Whenever possible, leave yourself ample time to make your connecting flight should the previous flight have technical difficulties. In addition, pack ample food, cash, a phone card, and entertainment (book, computer, etc.) in case you experience a layover.

2. Travel companions. They say you don’t really know someone until you’ve traveled with them. Unfortunately, many trips end up feeling stressful due to personality conflicts and/or disagreements. Before embarking on a long trip with someone, consider taking a short trip with him/her first so you know what to expect and whether you can handle spending a lot of time together.

3. Different expectations. You may have traveled with a particular person or group for years; however, a trip can still create stress if the group has different expectations of how they want to spend their time or what sites they want to see. Before traveling, have a pre-trip meeting to clearly lay out your expectations and get on the same page.

4. Unfamiliarity with the language or culture. Traveling in an unfamiliar place with an unknown language can be very stressful, particularly if you run into trouble and need assistance. Learning key words and phrases prior to traveling can be very helpful once you arrive at your destination. Be sure to pack a translation guidebook and maps of the cities you plan to travel to.

5. Getting sick. To minimize stress, it’s critical to take all of the necessary health precautions prior to traveling (getting the proper shots, taking medicine, etc). However, none of us are immune to health challenges while traveling and even the best laid health plans can leave us feeling sick. Be sure to have your emergency contact information handy should you need to go to the hospital while traveling. Don’t forget to pack your insurance cards if you are traveling within the country.

6. Packing the wrong items. Not having the proper clothing, shoes, or other items (bug spray, computer power cord, etc) can cast a negative light on your trip. When you’re packing your suitcase, think of all of the scenarios you may encounter and bring the proper items. If you want to go horseback riding, bring close-toed shoes. If you think you may swim every day, bring an extra swimming suit.

7. Forgetting important documents. How many of us have gotten to the airport only to realize we forgot our passport or our driver’s license? To minimize this stress, reserve a place in your carry-on bag for important documents and pack them well in advance of leaving for the airport.

When traveling is fun, it’s fantastic. When it’s stressful, it can be horrible. To get the most value for your money and make the best use of your time, anticipate for possible stressful situations while planning to have the time of your life.