Food&Drink Editor Harriet Laban gives some tips on how to enjoy travelling with less stress
We all look forward to going on holiday, no matter how often, or where we may be going. However, for a fair few of us, along with the promised time to relax and explore, also comes a degree of stress. Many things cause this feeling, including but not limited to: money worries, the location of the trip, your own expectations, and going away with other people. I’ve put together a few tips for reducing the stress so you can focus more on the joys which travel brings.
Planning is key
First up is planning. Some people love planning, as an excuse to really look forward to their travel, but others detest the feelings of commitment it may bring, in case it limits their free-spirited explorations. I am of the opinion that you can never be too well prepared for travel. Deciding before you leave exactly what you want to see and where you want to go, transportation and accommodation, and even certain foodie spots, can massively reduce stress levels whilst away. Guidebooks and websites such as TripAdvisor can be your best friend. For some it can seem boring, and potentially curb the travel idyll of spontaneity, but I don’t think this is the case. I would argue that if you are more prepared, things are less likely to go disastrously wrong, and you can therefore enjoy what you’re doing far more. What’s to stop you from intentionally planning time to be spontaneous? It just means you’ll definitely have a hostel to return to at the end of a wild and unexpected night out with friends made at a local bar.
Stick to a budget
Secondly, keeping a budget is a major de-stressing factor. In my eyes, there is nothing more stressful than deciding to go away and then finding that you don’t have enough money to truly make the most of it. Also, not keeping to a budget and liberally spending can leave you feeling utterly miserable upon your return home. It is important to decide before you book how much you want to spend, and then use this as your guideline when choosing everything from where you will stay, which city you may end up in, to what activities you end up doing. If you prefer to stay in luxury hotels, it may not be the best idea to also pay for an expensive helicopter tour – free or insanely cheap museums and attractions will be your best friend! Remember, if you save on one part of your trip, you’re more likely to afford another, probably more expensive and worthwhile, part.
Now for a slightly different, perhaps less expected tip… Pack light! Getting to baggage check-in at the airport and finding you’re over your weight limit raises your heart rate and can be very embarrassing, as you are forced to empty out your toiletries or discard that must-have spare pair of jeans you will never need in Thailand’s humidity. Pack light, and avoid this. Nothing is better than the liberation felt at breezing past baggage collection or being able to glide through busy railway stations unhindered by 50% more luggage than you could ever need. Just leave it at home!
Don’t build unrealistic expectations
Letting go of expectations is another way to limit stress. Through lowering what you expect of your holiday, you are more likely to relax and go with the flow; allowing for more spontaneous moments to take over can make a huge difference to your mindset. If you are going away to ‘find yourself’, it is highly likely that your focus will be on that, and in the process, you’ll miss all the formative experiences travel can provide. However, this is not to say you shouldn’t have any expectations whatsoever – if you want a holiday to fully destress, then using that as your guidance for what you decide to do can really help. Just remember to not be disappointed if things don’t go exactly as you plan; it’s nigh on impossible to make every holiday the best ever!
Communicating and compromising
Finally, if going away with other people, remember to communicate and compromise! It doesn’t matter whether you’re with your family or friends, it is likely there will be a clash in interests on at least one occasion, and you’ll want to do different things. For instance, if you have a friend who loves lounging by the pool but you would happily spend all day exploring, it is a good idea to talk about this before you hop on the plane, and make a compromise that either you will alternate activities day by day, or perhaps will spend the morning exploring and the afternoons relaxing. Through having open and friendly discussions, you can usually come to an agreement that pleases everyone. Conflicting interests can be a big stress, but often if you go with the flow, and are open to trying something new that may not usually appeal, you might actually have a good time! You may even discover a new way of taking a holiday that you love, and perhaps get to know your friends or family members a little better through experiencing what brings them happiness on their holidays.
Although not exhaustive, hopefully keeping in mind these few stress-relieving factors will enable you to enjoy your travels all the more. At the end of the day, you are there to enjoy yourself, and anything you can do to make stress melt away is worth your time.