Most of us have been on a trip that was expected to be fun, when seemingly all of a sudden it took a turn for the worse. Maybe you realized you had no idea where to eat in the area, you were confused about how to get where you need to go, and/or the things you originally planned to do just weren’t working out. It happens to the best of us, but there are a few things that you can try before you leave on your trip that will help eliminate this kind of unnecessary travel stress and make your trip one to remember.
Work Out the Details Early
Scrambling right before a big trip (or possibly while you’re on your trip) is not ideal. It’s easy to procrastinate activities or planning because you’re sure that you can work it all out later. However, when you’re actually enjoying your trip isn’t when you’re going to want to start planning. There are always unexpected events that happen once you get to your destination. As such, if you have to add even more stress to that by not having things completely planned out, you’re going to have a bad time.
For example, if you have one leg of your trip worked out, but maybe you’re thinking about just booking the second half when you get there, don’t. If you can help it, it’s going to save you a ton of stress to have all of those big details squared away in the first place. That way, you can focus on just having fun — not stressing about where you’re going to be and what you’ll be doing a few days or weeks from now.
Taking time out of your day to plan an extensive trip is hard — especially if you’re going to be in more than one location. Trying to find the best deals on hotels, car rentals, flights, and activities is a lot of pressure. It can take weeks or months to plan a vacation in this way. A great way to alleviate some of this worry is to find a vendor that does the work for you.
To save yourself some time and stress, find a website that bundles these activities together. It may sound silly, but also finding a travel website that is user-friendly and easy to navigate is going to make your job so much easier. If you still have to do all of the work anyway, it’s not really any easier to book through a travel website. So, keep that in mind when you’re comparing prices. Find the website that is going to make your life easy.
Try to Be in the Moment
I know this is easier said than done. When we’re with friends and family, it may seem like it’s important to capture every second on film. We sometimes feel that if we’re not snapping pictures along the way, we won’t remember those moments together. Or we just want to share every exciting and awe-inspiring event that we experience with the world. In reality, being present with the ones we love is the thing that we’ll remember the most.
There’s definitely nothing wrong with taking pictures while you’re on a trip, but trying to be in charge of the camera and capturing those memories can be really stressful. Not to mention, sometimes when you’re behind the camera, you exclude yourself from actually experiencing the activity as you normally would. That is why it’s a great idea to loosely plan out your camera time.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to actually sit down and make a schedule, but just tell yourself that you’re going to pick an opportune moment to photograph and then the camera will go away. For example, if you want to get some pictures of a beautiful landscape, pick a short period of time while you’re there that will be photograph time. Then your group can reconvene afterwards and continue enjoying the outing. Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t take out your phone or camera for an awesome photo-op, but just be thoughtful about where you are and who you’re with. You don’t want to get lost in photographing everything instead of creating memories.
Allow Yourself to Make Changes to the Plan
This might seem contradictory after I just told you to plan things out ahead of time, but it actually has to do with a completely separate part of planning a trip. You should plan to somewhat not plan. What I mean is, your big details should always be covered, but small, daily activities should be flexible. As we talked about, things are going to shift. Plans will change because of unexpected circumstances. Don’t let this get you down if you can’t do that thing you wanted to do really badly. You can always try again on another day, and even if you can’t do what you wanted to do, you can do something else just as great.
One thing that often causes stress in a travelling group is food. Sometimes you plan out where you’d like to eat, but maybe you find out last-minute the place you wanted to go to doesn’t accommodate everyone. Or maybe everyone cannot come to a unanimous decision. Try and do as the locals do and go with the flow. Don’t get stuck on the details. If there is another place that might work better, it’s OK to change your plans.
Some of the charm of traveling has to do with exploring new places and trying new things. So, maybe try out a local farmers market instead of the place you thought you might go. Or if you hear about an activity that just sounds too good to miss, do it. Don’t stress about what could have been or what you could have done. You’re making the best of it right now, and it’ll be even better than you expected.
You can plan any memorable trip in just a few steps. Make sure your core details are determined ahead of time, plan to be with the ones you love for most of the trip, and prepare for unexpected and exciting twists and turns to take place. If you prepare for all of these things ahead of time, you won’t be thrown off guard when it happens. You’ll be prepared to put the camera down and to maybe try something new that you never thought to do before. Before you know it, you and your loved ones are going to be talking about the trip you took — the trip of a lifetime.
Avery: Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves exploring the U.S. mountains of SW Idaho and examining human interactions with the greater world at large. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.
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