Being able to travel is a luxury. One that we’re blessed to be able to indulge in from time to time. But sometimes when you’re on the road it’s easy to forget this and we end up feeling less blessed and more...well, stressed!
If this happens to you, don’t worry, there isn’t something wrong with you. Getting stressed while traveling happens to even the most seasoned road warriors. Dealing with unfamiliar languages, temperatures, smells, foods and people, is confusing, exhausting and stress-inducing.
To some extent a bit of travel anxiety is all part of the journey. Travel stress however should never get so persistent that it begins to ruin your entire trip. To prevent this from happening there are some tried and tested things I do to ensure my travel stress is kept packed away in my suitcase. Read on below to find out what they are...
1. Slow Down
...or better yet, stay still.
I know the idea of going traveling just to stay still sounds a little like it is against the whole idea of travel in the first place but believe me it isn’t. Taking time to get to know a place in depth is far more rewarding, and much less stressful, than jumping from bus, to train, to plane, in a rush to tick destinations off some mythical list.
I’ve met so more travelers than I care to remember who have frankly been broken by their trip. Night buses quickly take their toll. I’ve found that travelers fatigue and stress kick in much more quickly when we move too much. I learnt this the hard way when attempting to see all of Vietnam in two weeks. And I mean ALL of it.
Now I travel slowly. I aim to stay at least a week or two in each place, and often much longer. Now I don’t care if I get to see far fewer places per trip. Instead I get to chill out, unpack my bag and treat each place as a home away from home.
As a result I get to see a different side of towns. I rent a room instead of staying in a hotel. I will usually get my hands on a bike or a scooter and as a result I get to discover more about an area. I get to find out where the best local food is and I even start making friends with the people who live there. The most stressful part of my trips now is usually the day I have leave!
2. Sleep More
When I first started travelling I was always so excited to be anywhere that I went a little crazy. I took the attitude that I’ll sleep when I’m old.
Now I am a little older (not quite old yet thank you very much) I’ve realized that poor-quality sleep is one of the main reasons so many travelers end up feeling a little bit stressed out.
It’s often easier said than done getting a good night’s rest on the road. New, unfamiliar sleeping arrangements don’t always lead immediately to good sleep. But there are a number of things you can do to ensure sleep comes easier when traveling.
Utilizing amazing high-tech products like $1 earplugs and eye mask can do wonders if you are sleeping in a hostel dorm or hotel room with thin walls and thinner curtains. While taking a night off the booze every now and again can quickly improve your sleep. Spending the money saved on drink on a slightly nicer hotel room can help too.
Most importantly, I’ve found keeping my usual regular pre-bed routine, bringing some simple sleep luxuries from home and avoiding screens in the evening all have the biggest impact.
For more hints on getting a proper night's sleep, whether you’re at home or on the road, read what the sleep experts have to say » view page.
3. Have a purpose
Once again, I know many will think that going traveling with a purpose sounds a little too much like work. Travel should be about leaving responsibility behind right? Again, yes and no. Once more allow me to explain.
A lot of people go traveling and just expect it to be amazing. And quite often it is. But if things don’t turn out quite as we expected, or hoped, we begin to get stressed. For some all that freedom can turn out to be too much to handle.
With no goals and nothing to fill your day except worrying about where you’ll have a beer later, each hour that you aren’t doing something can for some feel like a waste. Now I’m certainly not suggesting you should treat your trip like work. Heaven forbid! But I have found that having a purpose for a trip can make it so much more rewarding.
This can be as simple as wanting to learn a language or as complicated as wanting to climb a particular mountain. It can be as rewarding as volunteering at a local organization. Or it could be as basic as wanting to finally finish those five books that have been on your reading list for the last ten years. Whatever it is, having a sense of purpose can really enhance your travel experience and reduce stress. Yay!
Well, there you have it – three ways I have found to reduce my stress levels when traveling. They worked wonders for me, hopefully they will do the same for you.