5 Tips for a Less Stressful Travel Experience

Earlier this month, I packed my bags and headed to the Financial Blogger Conference in Denver. I normally plan my travel so that it is fairly stress-free. However, this trip started out rather disappointingly, since it involved a sprint through the airport — and I hate running.

While the initial stress of the trip wore off as I thoroughly enjoyed arriving in Denver and seeing some old friends and making new friends, it still had me thinking about how to enjoy a much less stressful experience. I traveled a lot in the last six months, from a road trip with my son, to camping, to a trip to New York, to this last adventure in Denver.

Normally, I don’t get stressed, as long as I follow these tips for less stressful travel:

1. Plan Ahead

This is the most important item. While it’s fun to take a spontaneous trip every now and again, most of the time you can reduce your stress level by planning ahead. List what you need to take ahead of time. Know what airline you will use, and figure out how you will get to the airport. Have a good idea of what is going to happen, and when it will happen, including what you will need to do in the security line, and which items you need to pull out of your bag (put those on top). While you want to leave a little room for changes in plans, a basically outline, ahead of time can help.

2. Do What You Can Ahead of Time

I’m a big fan of the online checkin when it comes to travel. I check in my flight ahead of time, and sometimes even start the checkin process for my hotel. Some airlines will let you check your bags ahead of time, and that makes it a little easier when you get to the airport. If you aren’t checking any bags, print out your boarding passes, and you’ll have one less line to worry about. It’s a great way to speed through the process.

3. Leave with Plenty of Time to Spare

Normally, I leave so that I have plenty of time to spare. That way, I don’t freak out at small traffic issues, or if someone in the security line is making a bit of a fuss. Leave time to park in the economy lot and ride the shuttle (if applicable to your situation), to find your gate, to get through the security line. If you have children, you might need to make sure that you allow for even more extra time so that you aren’t caught off guard. Traveling with children has its own challenges, and you need to plan ahead especially for those situations.

4. Pack a Lightly as Possible

Even when I check bags, or when I’m on a road trip, I try to pack lightly. I just don’t want to have to worry about all that stuff. My son and I each pack one manageable bag when we go anywhere — no matter the length of the trip. I find that one bag per person is sufficient in most cases, since if we are staying away for longer than a week, we generally plan to do laundry. Whether you are going through the airport, or setting up camp on the side of the road, it’s much less stressful when you are dealing with less stuff. I recently put together a camp box and pared down what’s included, just to reduce what I was taking with me.

5. Get in the Right Mindset

Your mindset can really help as well. My husband expects travel to be horrifying, inconvenient, and stressful. As a result, he is always stressed out and unhappy during trips. I expect travel to be a good experience, and approach it with relative calm. That helps keep my son calm during trips, and it reduces stress for everyone. Try to get in the right mindset before you leave (made easier by planning ahead), and you’ll feel less stress in general.

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