Traveling has always been a stressful event for me. The long airport waits, the frantic rush to meet deadlines, the unexpected fees and price fluctuations, the potential for lost luggage or misplaced mobile phones — all of that brings a lot of anxiety my way. Maybe you feel the same way.
Wouldn’t it be nice if traveling could be a blissful affair? Wouldn’t you be more inclined to travel if you could put a genuine smile on your face from the moment you depart to the moment you arrive back at home? I know I would.
Fortunately, with a bit of work, all of that is easy to overcome. All you need is a healthy dose of technology and a few tweaks to your traveling mindset. Here are the skills you’ll need.
Plan, Research, and Plan Some More
The willingness to plan and research is a non-negotiable skill. In fact, I’d consider it to be the most important skill by a longshot — so important that without it, stress-free travel is pretty much impossible. That’s not an exaggeration.
Planning does not necessarily entail a full-blown itinerary of your entire trip, breaking down every single hour into a schedule that leaves you no room for deviation. However, the more you plan, the less likely you are to be caught off guard by an unforeseen issue.
If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll want to check out these free international travel guides. They can help you find the best destinations, landmarks, flights, and hotels depending on the kind of trip you’re taking: business, vacation, expeditionary, etc.
To save the most money, you’ll want to look into as many hotels as possible to get the best deals, which isn’t that hard if you use these hotel search engines. Similarly, be aware of these rules for finding cheap flights in order to save as much as you can on airfare.
And for those of you traveling for vacation, you really ought to look into saving money with a vacation package. A vacation package usually combines the flight and hotel into one, along with additional services like car rentals and entertainment events, and the result can be cheaper than if you booked it all separately.
One caveat with researching all of these details is that you’ll frequently run into fake online reviews, which are often indistinguishable from real reviews. As such, online reviews can be useful as long as you know what to look out for.
Pack Properly and Ahead of Time
There’s no worse feeling than being a thousand miles out and realizing that you left an important item or device back at home on your coffee table. Well, there is one feeling that’s worse: realizing that you forgot to bring multiple things along with you.
You cannot neglect the importance of packing ahead of time. In a way this is just an extension of planning ahead, but it’s crucial enough to deserve its own point. You should be packed and ready to go at least 24 hours before your time of departure, which should give you enough time to remember anything you might’ve overlooked.
If you’re the kind of person who forgets something on every trip, have no fear. There are a handful of web tools and checklists that you can use to make sure that you never forget anything ever again. We’ve covered PackWhiz, UniversalPackingList, and DontForgetYourToothbrush, which are all good places to start.
As for the actual act of packing, there are techniques you should know to maximize the space you have available. Pinterest is chock full of packing tips and advice, so be sure to give it a browse. If you’ve never used Pinterest before, don’t worry. Pinterest is easy.
Another thing you want to make sure you pack: your electronic devices. Whether that means something as simple as your smartphone, something as expensive as your new laptop, or something in the middle like a portability-friendly tablet. Be sure to take along your chargers and relevant peripherals.
Then again, taking one of these along with you might cause more stress because you’re constantly worried about it being broken, stolen, or lost. That’s why we think the Chromebook is the ultimate travel device. It’s lightweight and productive, yet cheap enough that a disaster won’t be the end of the world.
Regardless of what you take along, if you really want to minimize the potential for device-related stress, do follow these crucial tips when traveling with an electronic device. You won’t regret it.
Adhere to Traveling Etiquette
Whether you’re driving a few hours out of town or flying to a country on the other side of the globe, it’s important that you get into the mindset of a traveler — and a big part of this is being aware of the mannerisms and etiquette that are expected of you wherever you end up going.
For example, gestures or tones that are acceptable in one country may be construed as aggressive or offensive in another country, and this could be a source of friction for you. We recommend consulting a resource like Travel Etiquette or Kwintessential’s International Etiquette Guide to minimize this.
If you plan to travel in a region for months or years at a time, you may want to learn the language of that region. These days there are language-learning mobile apps that can really speed up the process. If you’re just going for vacation though, this might be overkill.
Tipping is another piece of etiquette that you shouldn’t forget. While some countries discourage or even outlaw the practice of tipping for service, there are many service workers out there who rely on tips to make a living. Not sure how much to tip? Use a tip calculator app.
Be Ready to Adapt and Stay Calm
So you’ve gotten this far. You’ve done all of your research, you’ve planned everything out so that nothing can catch you off guard, and you’re all packed and ready to go. If you’re lucky, you’re about to have the time of your life. But most of us aren’t so lucky.
Even if you’ve done everything properly and minimized your chance of something going wrong, something might still go wrong. If that happens, how are you going to react? Staying calm and collected should be a priority.
One thing you should try is to practice mindfulness. This method rooted in Buddhist philosophy is all about accepting the here and now for what it is. It may sound a bit hokey out of context, but it does provide some practical anti-stress benefits so do give it a try.
And if traveling hiccups really have you strung out, consider installing these stress-relieving apps, these mind-clearing apps, and even these focus-required mobile games that can distract you from the stresses of something like a delayed flight.
Travel Doesn’t Have to be Stressful
If I had to boil it all down into one quick tip, I’d refer to the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin himself: if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Or in this case, get everything organized and researched and packed long before you step out the door and there’s a good chance everything will go smoothly.
How have you dealt with stressful travel? What other tips, tricks, and apps have you used to ease the process? We’d love to know! Share with us in the comments below.
Image Credits: We Love Travel Via Shutterstock, Travel Around the Globe Via Shutterstock, Boarding Passes Via Shutterstock, Passport and Sunglasses Via Shutterstock, Traveler on Laptop Via Shutterstock, Traveling Couple Via Shutterstock, Stressed Traveler Via Shutterstock