Many people feel stress at the thought of venturing outside of their normal environment, even if the journey is one intended for pleasure and recreation. This is normal, but it does not have to be something that ruins the potential for a great vacation. Take some steps ahead of time to alleviate the stress associated with the travel experience.
Nothing will be more calming than proper preparation for leaving your home environment. This includes not only researching the destination, but also taking care of things back home while you are gone. Consider everything that will be necessary to leave your home unattended, and make plans for how these things will be done in your absence. Put a hold on your mail, inform your neighbors that you will be away, and give pertinent travel information to your family or close friends. If you have pets, arrange for their care well in advance. Put a temporary stop on all newspapers.
If at all possible, choose times when others are not traveling as much. Low seasons are designated for most regions, which can mean smaller crowds and lower prices. Book reservations ahead of time, and check periodically for specials or fare reductions that you can get retroactively. Call a couple of weeks before your departure date to confirm all hotel, rental car and flight bookings. Always reserve airplane seats in advance rather than waiting until you arrive at the airport. This will give you the most comfortable seats, rather than those in the middle of a row.
Start packing at least a week ahead of time, adding small things every day. Make a list that includes everything you could possibly need while away, then start trimming it down to the necessities. Over-packing can create a burden on the entire journey and will also cost you more if you are checking bags at an airport. Plan for layered clothing, so that you can shed or add articles when needed. Pick complementing colors that can be mixed and matched, alleviating the need to bring extra clothing. Pack only shoes that are comfortable and that go with several outfits.
Make all of your preparations methodically and on a planned time schedule. Never wait until the last minute to purchase needed supplies or new articles of clothing. Make photocopies of things like passports and credit cards. Leave a copy with a trusted friend back home, and pack an extra copy of everything in a separate place than your originals. Email a copy of important documents and reservations to yourself, to be accessed if needed while on the road.
Download apps for your smart phone that are specific to your destination. This can include maps, coupons for discounts at local attractions, and GPS directions. Remember to keep your phone fully charged. Keep in mind that you may not have coverage in all areas, so do not let your entire itinerary or driving instructions be dependent on phone connections. Call your cellular provider ahead of time to ask about coverage and roaming fees, especially if you are traveling internationally.
Taking these simple steps and precautions can go a long way toward reducing the stress of travel. Take care of the basics, then go forth with confidence and anticipation of a great journey.