Travel is stressful.  From the time you start planning until you get fully settled in your destination, there is much to contend with.  The last few years have rattled the travel industry and have had cascading effects on the overall experience. Think cancellations, last minute changes, frustrated follow travelers, frazzled business owners and employees…. the list goes on and on. There are so many elements of travel that can cause stress and anxiety. And it doesn’t look like this is going to change any time soon. If you’re looking for the top tips to help you mellow out and manage travel stress so you can enjoy your trip, you’ve come to the right place!

One of the most important things to remember is that while there are many things you can control when traveling, there are also plenty of things you cannot, especially when flying.  Keeping the things you do have control of in check helps keep your sanity for those instances when things do not go so smoothly. 

As someone who has dealt with periods of travel related anxiety, I can tell you properly managing your travel stressors is a key component to having a great trip and keeping jittery nerves at bay.  So, what exactly can you do? Here are some ideas to help manage stress on your next trip.

Manage Travel Stress During Booking

Select Refundable Options Or Those With Free Cancellation

Now more than ever, it is important to make sure you can either get a refund or cancel for free. Look for as many options as possible that allow this flexibility. Be mindful of dates, deadlines, and fine print when doing so.

Build In A Buffer

This is especially true with flights, which are discussed more later. But, be sure to give yourself a buffer. Do this with things that involve time/scheduling. A little buffer in time gives you a little wiggle room if things get backed up. Do this with things that involve money too. A little buffer in costs gives you a little wiggle room if unexpected expenses come up.

Book Direct

One of the biggest lessons learned during the pandemic was the complications that come with booking through third parties. You will have much better luck (and customer service) if you book direct. This applies to hotels, flights, activities and more. This is also a great time to make any special requests up front.

Understand Credit Card Benefits

Many credit cards out there offer a variety of travel benefits. The range of offerings is pretty vast. Some benefits can be complicated and there is always fine print. Take some time to read up on the benefits so you have a better understanding of what is offered and what isn’t. In some cases, this may lead you to also purchasing travel insurance during the booking process.

Consider Travel Insurance

Depending on your individual situation, you may want to consider travel insurance. These policies vary widely, and coverage often depends on a number of factors. Oftentimes, there will be an offer to add coverage to protect your trip at the time of booking. Having travel insurance can give you a little extra piece of mind should you need to use it. Hopefully, you won’t have to!

Manage Travel Stress At The Airport

Flying has no doubt been challenging lately. The thought of getting on an airplane used to exciting. Heck, a few decades ago, it was actually luxurious. Now it is downright nerve-wracking! Here are a few tips for things you can do at the airport to help you mellow out and manage travel stress.

Aim For Few Connections

Airports are crazy places, especially lately. One of the best things you can do when flying is to spend as little time as possible in them. You can do this in part by planning route with as few connections as possible. This also lessens your chances of having a missed flight.

Lengthy Layovers

Flying isn’t glamorous anymore. It hasn’t been for years. But it has gotten uglier lately. Reduced flights, staffing issues, plane maintenance needs, route changes, severe weather, wildfire smoke, unruly passengers… these are just a few things standing in the way of getting to your destination on time. If you do have a connecting flight, it is best to plan lengthy layovers to help mitigate some of these issues.

Select Morning Flights

It is better to choose early morning flights. There is less of a chance that the airlines are behind on their morning flights. By afternoon there can be a domino effect resulting from all the issues mentioned above.

Try A Group Trip or Use A Travel Agent

Many people are against using travel agents or going on a group trip. While we understand this stance, now might be a great time to utilize these resources and let someone else take care of the logistics and do the heavy lifting for you.

Be Prepared and Have A Backup Plan

I was never a Girl Scout, but I think being prepared is key in life. I always think it is a good idea to have a backup plan too. This is key for communication when flying.

Want to be extra prepared? Keep a set of clothes, your credit card and a bit of cash in your carry-on bag. Familiarize yourself with what hotels are near the airport too… just in case you get stuck somewhere.

Be flexible

This is hard for a lot of people. Flying truly takes many factors out of your control. After you’ve done your work to plan the perfect trip, it is essential to be flexible. Things don’t always go as planned. A flexible mindset will help you not get so bent out of shape when something doesn’t happen exactly as you think it should.

Eat well and rest up

Before flying, we make sure to eat a full meal. Considering that many airlines have now done away with snacks and food for purchase, it is important to make sure you’re well nourished. I try to eat foods that are full of antioxidants are not too heavy. I also make sure to limit caffeine and alcohol, and drink plenty of water instead.

Download apps

We flight United Airlines often. Limited local availability of flights makes us a bit of a hostage to this airline. Good or bad, their app is one of the most handy tools you can use when it comes to managing stress. Utilizing online check in through the app also save you time. The app also sends you flight updates as well as gate and airport information. Recent upgrades even provide assistance with rebooking flights when necessary. I’m sure most other airlines have similar offerings by now, so be sure to check them out.

Other apps to consider include the TSA app, various hotel apps, and anything else that might be handy to ensure ease of access to information changes and addressing your needs.

Leave early

Generally speaking, the airlines tend to be more on-schedule during the morning. As the day goes on, cancellations and delays start to add up. Select a morning flight to lessen your chance of hitting a scheduling snag.

Consider Driving

If your final destination is within a reasonable distance, you may want to consider driving. Keep reading for tips to help you mellow out and manage travel stress for road trips.

Manage Travel Stress Road Trips

Map Your Route In Advance

Thanks to sites like Google Maps and in-car GPS, it is easy to map out your route in advance. Armed with information about where you are going will help you keep an eye out as you navigate to your destination

Perform Routine Maintenance

Be sure to do any routine vehicle maintenance before you leave. This includes oil changes, tire rotations, replacing wiper blades, checking to ensure all lights and signals are operational, etc. If major repairs are needed, do that too. Keeping your car in top shape will help you be more confident on the road. You will also want to verify that your emergency kit is well stocked. If you are traveling in the winter, take extra time to prepare for those needs.

Plan Your Timing Appropriately

I always like to plan departure and arrival times appropriately. This helps us avoid navigating or arriving in unfamiliar places during rush hour times. Planning your timing appropriately also includes weather consideration. You may need to depart (or plan to arrive) before severe weather hits.

Stop Along the Way

It is really important to stop occasionally during your road trip. Get out of the car, stretch your legs, move your body and take a few deep breaths and a few minutes to clear your head. This will help you feel better!

Use Helpful Apps

There are many apps out there which are helpful during road trips. We have already mentioned Google Maps as one. Other apps like GetUpside and Gas Buddy can help you save at the pump, which is a big source of travel stress lately.

Manage Travel Stress During Preparation and Return

In addition to the tips provided above, there are other travel related tips and tasks that can help you mellow out and reduce travel stress. To read more about them, visit the links below:

Smart Ways To Prepare For Your Next Trip

Simple Steps To Protect Your Home While Traveling

Global Entry vs. TSA Pre-Check

A Proper Guide To Travel Tipping

Picking Your Next Hotel: A How-To Guide

Essential Items to Always Pack

Packing The Perfect 3-1-1 Liquids Bag

Top Travel Items To Buy At Dollar Tree

How To Move Quickly Through Any Airport

Things To Do Upon Returning From Any Trip

We hope these tips will help you mellow out and reduce travel stress. Remember, many of these tips and resources can also apply to things like cruise and train travel, as well as booking excursions. As we continue to navigate the tumultuous travel environment, it is important that we remember to be patient with our fellow travelers and the various employees we encounter along the way. We are all in this together! Now tell us – what will you do to help you mellow out and reduce travel stress?

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15 Comments

  1. Your ideas and tips for making travel less stressful are awesome! Thank you for sharing them with everyone.

  2. All great tips! I’m glad most places offer flexible cancellation these days. And I definitely agree that travel insurance is great for peace of mind!

  3. I’m constantly stressed when I’m travelling, so I’ll have to try some of these out. I’m always downloading apps to help me out in new places.

  4. My number one advice is to only book direct flights. There are too many opportunities for a vacation to be ruined by missed connecting flights.

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