We’ve said it before, and not to sound like a broken record, but planning ahead of time can help you smooth out some of the unknown. It doesn’t necessarily mean plotting out every second of every day. For us, that’s overkill. Some people, however, might really thrive on that kind of schedule. We like a mixture of planned time and unplanned time that allows for spontaneity.

Be early

How To Reduce Travel Stress
Envision the destination instead of constantly worrying about missing your flight.

There is nothing worse in my mind than running late for a flight. Consequently, I’ve been known to get to an airport upwards of four hours early. Caroline is very different. She is more comfortable with about an hour and a half. The compromise for us is somewhere in the middle. No matter what though, we like to be early so that we’re not adding unnecessary travel stress.

Consider automatically checking in for flights

One of the things you can do to ease your travel stress is to automatically check in for your flight. Southwest offers EarlyBird CheckIn for an additional $15 and Lufthansa does it for free.

TSA Precheck or Global Entry

Another way to save travel time and reduce travel stress is to go the TSA Precheck route. Over 200 airports and 54 airlines use it. It’s a three step process but going through it means you don’t have to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. It also means that you when you go to the airport, you can access the faster lanes to security. The cost is $85 for five years.

1. Apply Online

Submit an online application in 5 minutes & schedule an appointment at any of 380+ enrollment centers.

2. Background Check

This is done in person. It’s supposed to take about 10 minutes and includes a background check and fingerprinting.

3. Enjoy TSA Pre®

When you fly, add your new Known Traveler Number to your ticket.

Get a good night’s rest

Getting great sleep leading up to your trip is one of the best ways to reduce travel stress. That said, if you’re like me, it can be difficult because you’ve got a lot on your mind and you’re excited. In addition, once you’ve arrived at your destination, try to stick to your nighttime routine. Pack an eye mask and earplugs if you think it will help you acclimate to a different sleeping environment.

Have a little extra spending money on hand

Nothing is more stressful than realizing a credit card won’t work or that you don’t have enough cash for a cup of coffee. Though not as bad, we also don’t like it when we get slapped with ATM fees. Head to your bank before leaving and take out a little extra money so that you can move about (and spend) with ease.

Update your cell phone plan ahead of time

We recently went to the Bahamas and knew we would want to be able to use our cell phones for work. We use Verizon and were able to figure out how to add International Data to our plan. They have a couple of different options to choose from. We found that jumping on their chat service was helpful. In the end, we picked a plan that only lasted for a month and then automatically ended once the time was up. If we did it again we would do the same thing but buy more data.

Pack ahead of time

Caroline Whatley at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
Hat? Check. Vest? Check. Camera? Check!

I am known for packing last minute but I have tried hard to break myself of this habit. Why? Because packing last minute means that I inevitably forget something. When I’ve packed early (and made a list) it means that I have time to go through the things I need and catch myself before I forget something important. It can be a slippery slope though for those of you who love to overpack! To see 9 of our van life essentials, head on over HERE. To see some things we never bring with us, head on over HERE.

Have snacks available

Being hungry while traveling only leads to stress. And impulsivity. And sometimes food guilt. None of which are conducive to having a fun time on the road. We almost always bring bananas and peanut butter, pretzels and mandarins with us everywhere we go.

Build in down time

We love packing in as much as we can while traveling but it’s also a surefire way to lead to travel stress. Depending on the length of the trip, it’s always a good thing to build in a little down time. If you’re going away for a weekend, it might just mean a twenty minute power nap before going out late-night. If you’re traveling for a week or two, it could mean building in one full day of just reading on the beach in the sun.

Take time to transition

Coming home from a vacation can be exhausting. Red eye flights, time zone differences, unpacking, restocking your fridge, picking up your pet from the kennel … all of these things can lead to a stressful re-entry into your life. If you’re able, consider taking off an extra day before heading back to work. If that isn’t possible, consider returning on a weekend so that you have time to do all the things you need to do before Monday arrives. No one wants to be exhausted from their vacation since resting up is probably one of the reasons you took one.

How to Reduce Travel Stress and Anxiety Recap

With a little bit of planning, anyone can reduce travel stress and anxiety. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to make the most of your trip! Do you have any other tips you’d recommend? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Please leave your comments below!

Authentic Asheville is a travel blog written and photographed by Caroline Whatley and Erin McGrady. We are currently accepting projects for 2019! To learn more about who we are and what we do, head on over HERE.


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