I have always considered myself an anxious person and I easily become stressed. Traveling is no exception. While I truly do enjoy planning trips and exploring new places I also struggle with constant anxiety about the things that could go wrong during a trip. Flight delays, bad weather, lost luggage, etc. My excessive planning when it comes to traveling is partially a way to help me prepare for any of these scenarios so that no matter what I am able to enjoy the trip.
Whether or not you also struggle with travel anxiety there are a few things you can do to make any trip more enjoyable.
Make Detailed Plans: Knowing where you will be going and what you will be doing on a trip can make travel so much easier. Each time I go on a trip I research the area and make a list of activities, sites, and restaurants that sound interesting. Next, I break these up by location/neighborhood/town (especially for larger areas where it isn’t as easy or convenient to hop from place to place). Knowing the area ahead of time can help you see everything you want in each location and this way you will already be familiar with your surroundings.
Making a plan for your trip is the best way to make sure that you are able to [realistically] see everything on your list. Without a rough idea of your strip schedule it can be overwhelming to decide in the moment and research the area you are in. Research the area, look at maps, make lists by specific location and also prioritize each activity and location so you can fit in the things you really don’t want to miss!
Be Flexible: This is where I struggle. So. Much. If I thought it were feasible I would go on every trip with an hour by hour itinerary for each day, but I have been on enough trips to know that it just wouldn’t work. Things happen and plans change and it is so important to be prepared for those little changes or to handle them well to keep the trip enjoyable.
The more flexible you are with your plan or schedule the easier it is to accommodate for any unexpected changes. Going along with Tip #1, while it is important to have a plan I think it is also important to leave some “wiggle room”. While creating your plan for each day prioritize your “must do/must see” choices. Then create time in the day that would be for any extra activities that aren’t necessarily top priority. This was if there are any delays or changes in your travel you have some freedom to rearrange and only fit in your top priority picks while sacrificing the second-tier activities.
Pack Appropriately: If you are packing well I don’t think there is such thing as “over-packing”. If you have an organized plan (Tip #1) packing is much less complicated- instead of having to pack for any and all occasions you know exactly what you have planned for your trip. Be practical when packing and consider the types of activities you have planned. For example, if you only have one dressy night planned you probably don’t need 3 pairs of heels.
Packing for comfort is also key. Whether you are going to be walking all day or in a car for several hours it is important to be comfortable. Comfortable doesn’t mean that you can’t still look nice- I am not someone who travels in sweats or athletic clothes but I am always sure to wear clothes that will be comfortable for the activities I have planned. This usually means softer fabrics, layers for varying weather, comfortable shoes, and loose fitting or breathable clothing.
Another thing I stress about when traveling (specifically flying) is lost luggage or delayed luggage. To help prepare for this situation I try to put the absolute necessities in my personal bag and carry-on. For me these usually means 2-3 outfits, versatile shoes, under garments, and phone/camera/laptop (w/chargers). Things like toiletries and hair tools I am less concerned about as I know I can easily run to a Target or drugstore and replace them without any major stress.
Extras: There are a few misc. things that I like to have on hand during trips to battle stress and anxiety.
- Medicine: I get really bad motion sickness when flying and occasionally in the car so I always have Dramamine on hand to help fight it. Advil and Tylenol are also great to keep on hand for any incidents along the way.
- Book(s): Long layovers and flight delays can be so much easier to deal with if you have a book to read. I personally can’t read on the plane or in the car but they can help time go by much faster when traveling.
- Snacks/Water: On my last trip we had some unexpected flight changes and we weren’t able to eat lunch on our way to Connecticut. Keeping fueled and hydrated while traveling is super important, especially for someone who gets motion sickness. Having snacks and water on hand can help keep you going throughout the day.