The stress of travel is enough to make you wonder if the getaway is worth it. Alice Boyes, who travels about one week out of every month, knows how trying the process can be.
“There’s a lot to remember with travel,” says Boyes, a former clinical psychologist and author of “The Anxiety Toolkit.” “The days leading up to getting away, you have everything you’ve got to remember for your actual trip, but also you’ve got huge amounts of work stuff to get filed away before you can leave.”
Her advice: “Find a comfortable routine.” In doing so, control what you can, plan ahead where you’re able and be prepared to handle the rest, whatever it may be. Boyes shared tips on how to reduce stress and anxiety when it comes to planning, packing and, finally, traveling.
Think of your schedule. Don’t just consider cost. It’s tempting to book a trip based solely on airfare. (Have you seen those cheap tickets to Europe?) But in the name of stress reduction, consider your own schedule first. Do you tend to get busy with work at the end of the month or the end of the quarter? Schedule around those days so you can minimize stress and worry. Also, determine how much downtime you need when you come back from your trip. Some people want to squeeze the most out of their time away and return late on a Sunday, while others may benefit from flying home on a Saturday and allowing themselves a buffer day.
Create lists. Think about what’s causing stress and make a list for each area. (Work list, travel-planning list, and so on.) Boyes also creates a “master packing list” for winter and for summer. She comes back to this checklist time and again. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you go away,” she says. The summer list, for example, reminds her to turn off the air conditioning and put chlorine in the pool.
Minimize vacation tasks ahead of time. Visualize where you’re headed and think about what you can do in advance to cut down on things to do on the road. Boyes makes sure that she brings plenty of $1 bills, so she’s prepared to tip housekeeping staff and others without having to run off and get change. “I know it only takes five or 10 minutes, but it’s annoying to do when you’re on vacation,” she says.
Keep a suitcase packed. Rather than repacking toiletries every time, Boyes keeps duplicates of items she uses frequently, such as her toothbrush and toothpaste. She places one in a suitcase and keeps one at home. She also keeps clothing in her suitcase that she knows she will wear on the road. This allows her to put less time and energy into preparing the night before when she’s usually still working late.
Know your credit-card coverage. Many credit cards carry some sort of travel protection, such as rental car insurance, trip cancellation coverage, lost luggage coverage and more. “Familiarize yourself with what you might do if something goes wrong,” Boyes says. It could give you peace of mind — and save you time and money — down the line.
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