Tips for Reducing Your Travel Stress

Tips for Reducing Your Travel Stress
by Robert Wright, Jr., Ph.D., COFT


Travel Related Panic

For many Americans the goal of traveling to dream destinations is high on their bucket list of activities to complete during their lifetimes. Did you know that according to a recent end of the year New Year’s Resolutions study 74% of Americans surveyed cited traveling to a dream destination or taking a dream vacation as their #1 goal for the New Year? Did you know that a recent study showed that drivers in the top 10 congested cities lose an average of 42 hours per year stuck in traffic—the equivalent of one week’s vacation?


Did you know that according to a 2014 study by Road and Travel magazine a majority of Americans cite Hawaii as their dream beach destination for vacationing? Did you know that this same study concluded that although 65% of respondents cited traveling to Australia and New Zealand during the next year as a top travel goal, only 1% were actually making plans to go there but 69% cited making actual travel plans to go to the Sunshine state of Florida?


Common sense tells us that traveling can reduce our stress when we approach any upcoming travel experience intelligently. For example, musing about an upcoming vacation or day dreaming about a dream destination helps you feel better as you consider all the wonderful sights and sounds of that future experience. Believe it or not, when you use your imagination like this creatively, studies show this tends to lower your blood pressure and promote the secretion of helpful neurochemicals known as endorphins which contribute to healthy well being.


Just thinking about “getting away from it all” can momentarily help you forget your problems and allow you to relax. Of course, as you relax, your bodily tension and stress begins to dissolve. This creates a happy state of affairs since any method that allows you to relax regularly can contribute to improvements in your healthy well being.


Sereious Bump to bumper Rush Hour Traffic JamHowever, even a cursory check of the news media can tell you that today’s travel experiences can be filled with stress and tension creating events. For some, traveling can become an overwhelming experience when you combine hurried or last minute packing, changes in itinerary, flight delays, rush hour traffic congestion, and unforeseen events outside of your control. The key to minimizing your stress is advance planning and automatically adjusting your attitude when circumstances outside of your control occur.


For example, should a weather delay cause you to miss your connecting flight, instead of becoming frustrated, you can complete reading that novel or article you’ve been putting off reading for weeks or months. Or, because you’ve planned ahead, instead of panicking, you can relax knowing that you’ve built in extra time into your schedule in the event of an unexpected travel delay.


Since our desire to travel is great and we’d like to have as many seamless travel experiences as possible, here are some tips for ways to minimize your travel stressors so you increase your chances of having an enjoyable trip that meets or exceeds your expectations:


Plan Ahead: Arrange your ground transportation in advance so that you do not arrive at a strange destination and become “besieged” by high and quickly negotiated licensed and unlicensed taxi rates. Arranging for a car rental or taxi/limo pick up in advance will go a long way in keeping your stress levels down.


Pack Smart: Taking the time to wisely sort out essentials from non-essentials will reduce your stress. Avoid last minute packing which increases chances of over packing or leaving behind some item you’ll need for your trip.


Pack Lightly: Doing so keeps you from having to drag around heavy bags. This strategy also eliminates worries about lost luggage and having to pay excess baggage fees for your trip.


Be Early: Arriving early or on time tends to work in your favor especially when flying. Being early allows you to anticipate and adjust to expected and unexpected airline schedule changes so that you can stay calm by notifying others in a timely fashion of schedule changes.


Travel Insurance: Purchasing this type of insurance can give you peace of mind if you think there is a chance your trip may be interrupted for any reason. Be sure to read policy terms carefully so that you’ll be covered as planned.


Travel Off-Peak: Avoid peak travel times to minimize being stuck in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. Consider alternate routes and modes of transportation which may be less jammed during the peak holiday travel periods.


AAA Amazing beach photo

Self Care: Be sure to engage in extra self care before, during and after your trip. This means getting extra sleep to adjust for time zones and washing your hands more often to reduce chances of becoming ill.



Stress Relief: Be sure to travel with and use a handy stress relieving technique throughout your trip. This might include squeezing a stress ball, listening to relaxing music or even humming since studies show that humming spikes your nasal nitric oxide by 1500 percent which automatically makes you feel better.


While we can expect some travel related stress whenever we vacation or travel for business, as a rule, by controlling as many factors as we can that are within our control, we increase chances of having the travel experience we hope to have. Keeping a positive attitude, no matter what by making the best out of whatever is happening will go a long way to insure you have a super travel experience!


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