Travel is supposed to be about relaxing and getting away from your normal daily stress and anxiety, which makes it quite surprising that recent surveys have shown nearly 90% of people consider travel these days to be stressful.
So is there any hope of escaping stress on your next escape and hopefully enjoying a sense of happiness?
It’s quite sad to see that travel has become stressful for so many people; over a third of people who consider taking a vacation end up deciding not to simply because they feel it’s just too stressful.
Much of today’s travel-related stress comes from dealing with large crowds caused by overtourism, having too many choices when it comes to things to see and do, and feeling pressure for your holiday to be a “complete success”.
The sad truth is that we only have ourselves to blame for being stressed while traveling, whether it’s trying to tick a long list of experiences off we feel we need to have or not giving ourselves enough flexibility to deal with unforeseen events or circumstances.
Thankfully, there are adjustments you can make to enjoy happier and less stressful travel and it often starts simply with changing your perspective and getting rid of expectations.
No matter the destination or your budget, any vacation can be a successful and rewarding experience if you want it to be. Here are 7 ways you can start enjoying your travels once more.
How to Enjoy Happier & Less Stressful Travel
Nothing is more important to understanding another culture than communication. Engaging with locals opens your mind up to new ideas and customs.
It’s easy to forget that we as travelers are guests and need to learn to respect other points of view and lifestyles. Engaging with locals will help you to gain a better understanding for why their life is the way it is and will lead to casting less judgment.
Taking time to learn the local language or at least utilizing language translation apps will help you to communicate with locals when there’s a language barrier.
While it may be frustrating at times to not understand others or have them understand you, whether it‘s trying to communicate with a waitress or a hotel receptionist, remember that you are the visitor and it’s you who needs to make an extra effort to communicate effectively.
Spending time with locals and talking with them can reveal secrets of a destination and allows you a glimpse into life outside your bubble. This has long been what travel was all about up until recently where getting selfies and posting about how wonderful your life is on social media became more important.
In addition to seeking out new ideas and perspectives, you can also enjoy more rewarding travel by volunteering your time to make a difference in the places you are visiting.
You should also be sure to focus on having effective communication with your travel companions whether they are friends or family, or remember to stay in touch with loved ones back home if traveling alone. They can often be a great source of support.
Get Rid of Expectations
Many travelers first scroll through reviews before booking, and a great deal of us do it without even realizing it. We are constantly being flooded with people’s personal travel experiences, perspectives, and opinions via social media, whether it be Facebook posts or photos from Instagram.
While this may give us inspiration to travel, it also implants in our minds expectations of what a place should be like and an inflated sense of how remarkable things appear.
However, most of us know the truth and that we only see the best aspects of travel experiences, after photos are enhanced/edited and all the boring or unpleasant moments are removed.
Reading reviews, whether it’s for hotels, tours, or destinations themselves, implants an idea in our heads of how our own vacations should play out. The problem with this is that we can easily be let down if our personal experiences don’t live up to what we thought they should have been.
We can also easily dismiss places or activities we may have thoroughly enjoyed simply because we chose to accept others’ reviews as concrete fact.
Don’t Overload Your Itinerary
They say the best things in life are unexpected, yet most travelers thoroughly plan out there travel itineraries so that nearly every last minute is accounted for.
There is the urge to want to take full advantage of our time off from work and home life, making sure to get the most out of our money spent on vacations by overloading our itineraries. We are so afraid that we will miss out on something.
The problem with traveling this way is that it can be exhausting, often even more so than our hectic everyday lives back home. Whenever we feel overloaded, things become more stressful and we tend to not enjoy each individual thing we are trying to pack into our travels.
We need to learn to factor in some downtime into our itineraries. You need time to rest and recuperate each day, finding ways to calm yourself whether that’s through yoga, reading a good book, or playing games online like spincasino.com. You know what allows you to calm down and decompress.
Failing to wind back your itinerary can see you falling into the same pattern many of us get into back home where our days are packed with commitments and chores. Never taking time to step back and relax can lead to a range of physical and mental illnesses.
So stop trying to cram a whole bunch of cities or countries into a short two-week holiday and don’t feel like you need to see everything listed in a guidebook. It’s often more about quality than quantity when it comes to many things in life including travel.
Having an overloaded itinerary can also see you constantly worrying about being certain places at specific times. Because we often leave ourselves no room for error, we tend to constantly be worrying about the future as well as the past when things don’t go according to plan.
This means many of us fail to be present while traveling.
We need to learn to practice mindfulness while traveling. This means learning to live in the moment, being fully aware of the sights, smells, and sounds around you.
Those who can really become present in the moment tend to be calmer, happier, and can better recall their past trips with more clarity rather than having to resort to photos to jog their memory.
The next time you take a trip, start by removing distractions like phones, social media, and TV. Then really try to focus on whatever it is you’re doing whether it’s taking a shower in that super-luxe marble-floored bathroom of your 5-star hotel, smelling delicious street food on a walk through the city, or hearing the church bells ring from that 16th century European church.
Go Your Own Way
No matter how much you love your best friend, partner, or children, the fact is that we all have different interests. While it’s great to spend time together and experience things with friends and family while traveling, don’t be afraid to schedule in things that you can do alone.
By splitting up sometimes, you can see and do more things during your holidays that you thoroughly wished to experience. You work hard to save up for holidays, so you shouldn’t have to sacrifice vacation time trying to always appease others.
While it may be easier for solo travelers to focus more on themselves, they can still be easily swayed by someone they just met on a walking tour or at their hostel urging them to tag along to things that might not necessarily appeal to them.
Stand up for yourself and experience what you want to, while also making time for your friends and family traveling with you to enjoy quality time together.
The two can be blended effectively. Consider your life back home, you don’t always follow every move your partner or friends make, so why do it when traveling?
Understanding that many things will be out of your control while traveling is another step to enjoying your time.
Getting rid of expectations and leaving room in your itinerary for delays and other hiccups will help to reduce the stress of unforeseen circumstances, and learning to have patience will reduce your anxiety and anger.
Don’t feel like you need to rush to board and disembark the plane, at most you will only gain a few minutes. Don’t yell at airport or hotel staff when things aren’t going the way you’d like, this only makes them feel bad and won’t help you any to get what you’re after.
Travelers these days seem to think everything is a competition. We have to be first in line to the attraction, have to have the best position for catching the sunset at the lookout, and beat everyone else off the plane to get through customs quickly.
While you may very well get first in line or the prime position at an event, you need to ask yourself whether all the added stress was worth it.
Learn to simply relax and take things as they come. If someone steals your cab, there will be another. If someone is taking a bit too long taking a selfie at a landmark, they will eventually move on.
Remember that you’re not on the Amazing Race and simply let the cards fall as they may.
We love to dwell on things we missed out on or something not being as great as we hoped it would be, but focusing on the negatives or being envious of what others got to see or do will only lead to disappointment and possibly depression over time.
Practicing gratitude means not ruminating about how your steak was overdone or that you may have been overcharged by your cab driver, and instead learning to focus on all the good things that happened.
For starters, feel grateful that you have the means to travel and that you live in a time where travel is quick, readily available, and relatively cheap.
Avoid rushing to post that negative Tripadvisor review or long rant on Facebook as it will actually be doing more harm to yourself than to a business.
Studies have shown that people who focus on negative feelings or regularly express anger actually display a lower self-esteem, are less happy, are more susceptible to health problems, and are more apt to suffer from bouts of depression.
Take time to jot down all the positive things that happen during your travels, and depending on where you travel, learn to realize just how good you have it back home.
Spending time in less fortunate countries can make you realize that not everyone has access to fresh water, nice housing, medical care, and employment.
These are just some of the steps you can take to enjoy happier travel. Some of these steps may take practice and time, but eventually you will learn to take back control of your holidays.
You have the power to make every vacation a positive experience, it’s just learning how to harness that power.