A Quick Guide to Stress-Free Traveling
When we are on the go, the stress doesn't just go away by itself – in fact, it may very well get stronger. Being out of your comfort zone, in an unfamiliar place can cause a tsunami of pressure. Simply missing a train makes you panic and lose your cool, because you have no idea, whether there is another one on the way, or if you just missed you last chance to get back to your hotel. Fortunately, you're not really the only one having stress follow you around, and, with a couple of simple and tried-and-true tricks you'll get back to traveling stress free in no time.
I take trips pretty often, once a month at the very least. In my early days of traveling, I used to start packing my stuff weeks before the actual trip (trying to fit everything in one little baggage); today I start with the packing 1 hour before I leave for the airport. I worked out a system that helps me quickly determine exactly what stuff I need for each trip! If you experience some problems with packing, just do it once and try not to touch the bag for some time, and switch to a different task. Then, once your head is clear, crack the bag open and get rid of half the stuff you've got in there. The system works wonders!
See also: 9 Business Travel Essentials to Pack for Your Trip
Waiting in the Airport Lines
Isn’t it irritating when you have someone really slow in front of you at the airport security line? Especially when your plane is about to take off. Well, your frustration and anger won't change anything but we can make this rather annoying process as efficient as possible.
When I travel, I put all the stuff from my pockets into my jacket. That's because all I'll need to do is take off the jacket and get my notebook out of the bag, and that's it! Plus, while I'm waiting for my turn in the queue, I also take off my belt - sometimes this takes a lot of time, believe it or not! I pack all my electronics on top of my carry-on and I charge my laptop before going to the airport. Just imagine for a moment how wonderful life would be if everybody could just save a minute or two in the queue...
Coping With Delays And Cancellations
While most methods of transportation in Europe are rather reliable, there's no telling if they really will be on time. Always plan a bit of extra time. And in the case of a flight cancellation, try to relax and enjoy yourself. Flight got delayed? Find something you can do until the wait is over. I'm sure you've got a lot of stuff that you never get around to. Well, now you have it!
Every time I experience flight cancellations or delays, I simply switch my attention to a different task. The key to avoiding the stress: Be prepared for it. Read an online book or stream your favorite movie or Skype with your wife. We are living in the era of having access to the Internet at your fingertips. Make sure to buy a multi trip data SIM or a WiFi hotspot ahead of your trip and you will never be bored again. Oh yeah, it is also a great way to be updated about your flight schedule.
In some cases, taking flights early in the day and steering clear of the "prime" travel hours can significantly reduce the wait time. I know, nobody want to fly at 6:00 am, but, it could help you avoid a lot of hassle and stress.
Bathrooms, Food And Water
We all had to go through this phenomenon: You're on a bargain flight somewhere and intend to save some money, but, for some unexplainable reason, you end up spending a fortune even before you get on the plane...That's how it happens: coffee and some snacks at the airport (while you're waiting), maybe a bottle of water after the check in. Plus, in some cases you also have to pay to use the restroom. Isn't it completely ridiculous, that before you even get yourself on the plane, you manage to spend $50?
That was me for a very long time, but nowadays I make sure to have a proper meal at home, or at a local diner, and also drink a lot of water before driving to the airport. They say it's good to stay hydrated when you are travelling, so, that's a double kill.
Traveling is an ocean of stress for everyone: other travelers, as well as the airport personnel and the airline employees. And all it takes for the global irritation bomb to go off is one rude person.
If somebody's rude to you, try to be as pleasant and polite in return as possible and refrain from taking out your frustrations on the airline staff. Please understand: it's not their fault that the flight was delayed or cancelled – there isn’t much they can do about it. Put yourself in their shoes - would you like to be yelled at, when you're not the guilty one? Be pleasant, and you'll get sympathy and maybe even a good advice. The staff is there to do their job - try not to ruin the day. They're under a lot more stress than you are, and they still want to help you out. So, be friendly to them, and put a smile on your face!
Losing your belongings is never fun, especially if you are traveling for business and have to look presentable or to a place with a different climate where you simply cannot survive without your linen shirts and Bermuda’s. Maybe you'll have a great laugh afterwards, but not if you melt in the sun or mess up your meeting.
One way to be prepared for such a misfortune is by packing all the essential stuff in a carry-on bag (that includes fresh clothes, some basic toiletries, and Rx medications). Make sure to pack efficiently and effectively and don't forget about the limit on the liquids - 3 ounces max.
In many countries it is still common to overcharge tourists and it is even more common to take many detours in order rip a passenger off. Rome, for instance, is notorious for that kind of attitude towards foreigners. It is very useful to check the quickest directions on Google Maps before hopping in a cab. As an alternative, you can get a physical map of the city and show the driver the exact route you want him to follow (but who needs paper if you can have access to the Internet 24/7).
If you want to know exactly how much your ride is going cost, try using Taxi-Calculator App available for Android users. It is available in over 20 countries including the major destinations in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
Don’t you hate getting lost in a foreign country? Well, there are many ways to look at it, sometimes getting lost gives you a great opportunity to learn all "secret corners" of the city you are traveling in, that normally would not visit. At the same time, I always make sure to get Google Maps on my phone, so that I always find my way around. Nowadays you can get GPS navigation on your phone, so there is nothing that good old Mobile WiFi cannot resolve. Many cities have UBER these days where you can order a cab online right to your location.
Multi City Trips
Have you ever had to plan a multi city trip? It's actually not that unusual to visit several cities in a few days, especially in Europe. You spend one day in Barcelona, another day in Paris, and then Amsterdam, the day after. No problem and in the mean time you want to do as much sightseeing as possible, right? I have already lost count of how many times I had to deal with that dilemma - but I'm not doing that anymore. At the end of the trip I honestly couldn't tell what I’ve seen, and I didn't really feel like I truly enjoyed my trip. Don't get me wrong - physically I did visit all those cities but in my head I was always planning the next step of my itinerary. Over the years, life taught me one very important lesson: less is truly more, and I (like everybody else) will be so much happier with one amazing trip experience, as compared to three awkward and strenuous memories. You can always find time and plan another trip, and fully experience the next great city, and then another one! I'm a big fan of the slow travel philosophy, and am deeply convinced, that it's the only way to get the best experience, learn about the place you visit, and take back some beautiful memories.