Travel can be a lot of fun, but it can also be exceptionally stressful. From getting lost to realizing you forgot to pack something super important, there are tons of little (or big) things that can happen when you’re away from home. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can minimize mishaps, making for a more comfortable, pleasurable trip overall.
1. Choose The Right Destination
Choosing the right destination for you and your family before you travel is key to having fun while you’re away. Families with kids probably don’t want to go somewhere that isn’t kid friendly, and a couple on a romantic getaway likely don’t want to go to Disney World. Whether you’re taking a luxury tour of Morocco or just heading to the beach, make sure that there are accommodations and things to do for every member of your family.
2. Create A Packing List Ahead Of Time
One of the most stressful things when traveling is arriving to your destination and realized that you’re missing something incredibly important – like your medication or enough underwear. Or, perhaps you’ve packed way too much and have six extra bags to haul everywhere you go. Either way, failing to pack well can wreak havoc on even the most well planned trip.
Create a packing list a few weeks ahead of time. For example, when you’re getting ready for the day, look around the bathroom at what you’re using to get ready. Put those on your packing list.No, you do not need to bring the set of hot rollers that you haven’t used for three years.Yes, you need to bring your aftershave. Over the period of a few weeks, you can tailor the list to include the things you really need and exclude the things you don’t. After reviewing and re-reviewing the list over time, you’ll be confident that you have exactly what you need.
Independent Traveler has a great basic checklist that can get you started, and you can customize your personal list from there.
3. Use Your Cell Phone’s GPS To Your Advantage
Getting lost sucks. Especially in a place that you’re unfamiliar with. Spend some time before you go to research the areas you will be staying in. Store important addresses in your phone, and when you arrive at your destination, you can use your cell phone’s GPS to know where you’re at and where you’re going. Forget trusting shady cabbies to get you where you’re supposed to go at 3:00 a.m. after a red eye flight! Instead, your GPS will show you where you’re at, where you’re headed and what route you should be taking.
4. If You Have Kids, Make “Busy Packs” For The Car Or Plane Ride
Traveling with kids is its own special kind of stress, reserved just for tired parents and cranky babies. If you have young children that you’ll be traveling with, plan ahead for down time and make up some “busy packs” that will keep your kids quiet and entertained for several minutes.
Frugal Living NW suggests using inexpensive games, crayons, coloring books, dice, and more from the dollar store to create your activity bag. You can also create more than one activity bag. Have 2 layovers? Bust out the second “busy pack” on layover #2 with all new toys, games and activities! Snacks are good to include as well, but keep the sugar to a minimum if you want to keep your kids from turning the airport into a pinball machine.
5. Create An “Emergency List” For The Area You’re In
The last thing you want to have happen when you’re in an unfamiliar area is an emergency. Where’s the hospital? How do we get there? Answer these questions ahead of time by creating an emergency list. Get the phone numbers and addresses for cab services, hospitals, and heck, even restaurants that deliver to your hotel for when you’re too exhausted to venture out. Having this list at the ready can make emergencies go a lot smoother.
6. Have Local Currency On Hand
Not knowing the exchange rate or even showing up to a foreign country without some local currency already on hand is a big mistake. Several days before your trip, go ahead and have some cash exchanged and tuck the local currency away in your bag. Also, a mobile phone app for currency exchange can be super handy.
7. Maximize Your Carry On
Ever been stuck somewhere without your luggage? It’s horrific. It can take days for airlines to get you your luggage. Pack your carry on with this in mind and have a few complete outfits, a swimsuit, your medications, camera and important toiletries in your carry on.
Basically plan on using only your carry on for the first couple of days, and then you can break into your luggage later.
While you can’t plan for everything that might possibly go wrong while traveling, you can reduce a lot of travel related stress by planning ahead and using these easy tips.