Whether you’re jetting to a tropical location for a dream vacation, driving to Grandma’s or taking a business trip, travel can be stressful. Any change in environment, routine, time zones or eating habits can affect your well-being. Add tired and cranky children, seemingly disinterested ticket agents, or rude fellow travelers to those factors and you are almost guaranteed to become stressed out.
Not all stress is bad, of course. Stress provides physical and emotional stimulation — without it life would be dull and boring — and it can bring a new awareness and exciting perspective to a situation. Too much stress, on the other hand, can seriously interfere with your ability to perform effectively and may ultimately damage your health. It can also ruin even the most well-planned vacation or business trip.
The key to handling stress is in learning how to adjust to different circumstances so that stimulation can help rather than hinder you. It’s important to build up your physical reserves so your body can better adapt to changes in your routine when you travel. Exercising three to four times a week (e.g., walking, swimming, cycling, jogging) helps pump up your body’s stress-relieving reserves, as does eating well-balanced, nutritious meals. An unbalanced diet stresses the body by depriving it of essential nutrients, so be sure to take a vitamin supplement to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. (Remember to take your supplements along when you travel, too. They are especially important when you’re subsisting on airline meals or snacks at a theme park.) Get enough sleep, and try to be consistent with your sleep schedule. Lastly, try the following suggestions to get a grip on travel stress:
- Prepare for your trip well in advance of your departure date, and have a daily checklist of the things you need to do before you leave.
- Have your bags packed (closed or zipped, locked, and set aside) at least one full day before your travel day. Spend that day before you leave in quiet activities (reading, listening to soothing music, taking a leisurely bath), rather than in last-minute (and often frenzied) preparations.
- Allow plenty of time to reach your destination or catch your flight. It’s much less stressful to have time to spare than to dash through the airport so you don’t miss your flight (especially if you have a couple kids in tow).
- Once you reach your destination, don’t over-schedule your days. You need down time to unwind, even if you’re on vacation.
- Again, get enough sleep — unless you want to return home more tired than refreshed.
- Schedule your return so you have a day or two to decompress before you leap back into your regular routine.
Travel doesn’t have to stress you out. With a little foresight, planning and a sensible approach to healthy living, your next trip can be a memorable experience. And your body will thank you for it.