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We all want to have an enjoyable time on vacation. That’s literally the definition of the word. But travel these days can be stressful, not only in the planning stages, but once you’re actually there.

Considering just how little time off we have, and how much we spend on our trips, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have the perfect trip. Too much pressure.

So to relieve some of that, we’ve put together a list of tips for actually enjoying your vacation. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning for a working holiday or a vacation spent sunbathing on the beach, you can improve any trip by using the following tips.

Ways You Can Immediately Improve Your Vacation

Manage Your Expectations

Surprise – the biggest threat to your happiness while on vacation is you! We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to our travels. And it all centers around our expectations.

If you start out with unrealistic expectations, you’ll always be disappointed with your holiday, regardless of what does or doesn’t happen. So it’s often better to travel with no expectations and allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised!

But in adjusting high expectations to the more realistic side, start by being mindful of your budget and timeframe. These are the two biggest factors affecting the extent of your vacation. Considering you only have a one in 292.2 million chance of winning the powerball, don’t assume you’ll suddenly have the money to go on your dream vacation.

Remember that you have limits and build your plans around them. Don’t expect to travel first-class, only to be disappointed when you have to travel business. Don’t fantasize about sunbathing on the shores of Guana when all you can afford is the Jersey Shore. Don’t anticipate starting each day with a cup of Rancho Cucamonga’s $55 cup of coffee.

You get the gist. When you accept that these luxuries are for another, wealthier person than you, you can focus on the comforts your budget can afford.

Traveling in China isn’t always easy, especially given the language barrier. This is where having local friends was a huge benefit to us!

Plan to be Flexible

A plan is a great way to give structure to your vacation. It keeps you on track, so you get to see and do all that you want. But don’t set these plans in stone.

When you try following a jam-packed schedule, you run the risk of stressing out when the unexpected wreaks havoc with your plans. Try giving yourself some wriggle room between special events and dinners, so you won’t feel the pressure of random events that could throw your schedule off course.

Turn off Your Mobile

A vacation is one of the rare times you have an excuse to ignore a phone call or an email. Why waste this power by bringing along all your devices?

Though you may feel like you have a modicum of self-control, few can resist the pull of catching up on the news, their emails, and their games. Before you know it, you’ll have wasted valuable holiday time on work emails or other inconsequential tasks.

Leave behind your laptop, tablet, and other gadgets that could interrupt your vacation time. If you absolutely must have your phone on you to take photos, disable notifications from your messaging and email apps. You can also set your phone to airplane mode, so you won’t feel tempted to check in with the folks back home.

Boulders Beach, South Africa

Get a Skin for Your Phone

Do you know how many people drop their phones on vacation? So many! Usually it’s in pursuit of the perfect selfie, but with all of your contacts, your access to travel information, and apps you downloaded specifically for this vacation (translation apps etc), having this happen ruins you mood for the whole trip.

Not to mention how much $$$ you just spent on the new iPhone X. So consider adding a grip-enhancing Android or iPhone skin, so you don’t spend your trip worrying about dropping this precious gadget. Check in with a skin from dbrand to find the best selection of designs for the greatest number of devices.

They outfit a wide range of devices (including the new iPhone X) in exclusive decal designs you can’t find anywhere else. See why their fans (over a million Twitter followers and counting!) keep coming back for more.

You can find the coolest skins for your new iPhone X by searching through their extensive catalogue. They’re also the only designers of a skin-compatible carbon composite case that boosts the skin’s natural grippy texture to provide the best handle on your favorite selfie-taking device.

Chinatown

Organize a Smooth Return Trip

Do future you a favor. Don’t book a last-minute red-eye with a 10-hour layover on your return flight home. Coming back to the grind will already be hard enough, you don’t need to make it any harder by pushing yourself through the worst travelling conditions.

Be mindful of your first day back at work too. If you expect to be at work bright and early on Monday morning, don’t book your flight for the night before. We’ve all done it, and we’ve all regretted not having the next day to sleep in and dedicate to photos and laundry!

Schedule your return for Saturday, so you can decompress after a long trip. This extra day gives you the opportunity to unpack and unwind before you’re back at the office.

The Bottom Line: Be Kind to Yourself

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to go on an amazing adventure through the Galapagos or if you’re planning to relax on a beach with a bottomless piña colada in your hand. Whatever you hope to achieve from your next trip, be considerate of yourself.

Remember to set realistic expectations, to be flexible, to leave work behind, and to organize a smooth trip home. Together these are your insurance for a vacation you’ll actually enjoy.

FOR STAYING ENTERTAINED IN TRANSIT: CLICK PHOTO ↓

Hi-Def Noise Canceling Headphones

Power Bank Ultra High Capacity

Kindle Voyage E-reader

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    20 Comments

  1. I totally agree with all of your tips, Megan! I think one of the biggest ones for me is not to have expectations. The places I’ve loved the most have almost always been ones I didn’t know what to expect from!

    • Thanks Caitlin! Yes I learnt that lesson with Paris – I had really high expectations on my first trip, and ended up being a bit disappointed by the difference in perception vs reality. Where-as Bolivia, we visited with literally 0 expectations, and it turned out to be one of my favorite trips! So I think there’s definitely something to be said about that!

  2. My philosophy is that if the train is late so what. If you don’t get lightning fast service at the restaurant, it’s okay. Relax your on vacation. Look around, enjoy yourself and don’t worry about the little things. I hate it when I see tourists complaining about everything and demanding everything be perfect. Some of my best travel memories have come when the unexpected happens and I come across a new adventure.

    • A good philosophy to have Bob! Travel shouldn’t be stressful, and much of the stress and anxiety we bring upon ourselves by letting little things affect us. Totally agree that there’s nothing worse than a constant barrage of tourist complaints – sometimes legitimate, but most of the time I don’t understand why people can’t let the little things go!

      Travel is all about embracing the unexpected 🙂

  3. Your post reminded me of Mark Twain’s quote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” A whole new world of adventure, discoveries and unexpected surprises await those who are open-minded. True, if we set realistic expectations and flexible enough to welcome and adjust accordingly to unforeseen circumstances then we become better travellers.

    • I love that quote 🙂 Yes, travel definitely requires an open mind, and the experience is always so much more enjoyable when you’re able to open yourself up to being flexible and embracing the unexpected!

  4. There are many lessons to be learned from your post, Meg. I’m trying hard to tame my expectations, especially when it comes to unforeseen weather, or trip delays. But it’s usually the realistic expectations that will ruin my mood, like if I pay for an ocean-front room and instead I get garden-view one; or if I’m confirming ahead of time that I am on a certain tour and when I get there I’m being there I am not on the list. Usually in cases like this I totally loose my mind, lol! Turning off my phone is not a problem for me, but turning off my computer is! Hahaha!

    • Thanks Anda, yes, I’ve found that taming your expectations is the big one. Lol though in the cases you’ve described I think that it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that services you’ve booked comes through as described!

  5. We’re off to our first travel as a couple in a few days (most of our out of town travels after getting married and focusing on writing content for the blog were with friends and family) so I’m a bit excited (and nervous) about it as I did all the planning, budgeting and booking our accommodations and guides. Your post is just so timely as I feel I need to be reminded to be prepared about unexpected occurrences and at the same time enjoy it. I think managing expectations and flexibility will be very important as I tend to overthink everything. LOL. I love that you’ve also included about being kind to yourself. Definitely makes the trip more fun if you don’t over stress yourself. After all, a trip should be a time to relax. 🙂

    • How fabulous Marvi! You’ll have such a wonderful time. Yes, staying open minded to embrace the unexpected is one of the best ways to successfully travel as a couple – take on challenges as a team, and be kind to each other as well as yourself – it’s very easy to snap at our partners in stressful travel situations, but they should be your backup not your frenemy 🙂 Have an amazing trip!!

  6. These are really great tips. I’ve found that keeping my expectations in check is key. It’s so hard to remember that sometimes a destination just won’t be what you had in mind, especially if it’s because you don’t quite have a big enough budget for that unforgettable experience. I also think turning off your mobile is key. That’s a big reason we don’t get too much data on our sim cards, so we aren’t tempted to indulge in our internet lives.

    • Thanks Paige, so glad to hear you make a conscious effort to travel with realistic expectations – I’ve found when I expect the world, I’m disappointed with the trip, but when I travel without expecting anything, I always have a fabulous time – funny how it works like that!!

      And yes, it’s so distracting having our mobiles going off every 2 minutes when we’re supposed to be enjoying a trip. Much easier to be in the moment when you have it turned off. Nothing’s ever that urgent that it can’t wait for you to return from holiday!

  7. I agree with your every point here Meg especially on setting up the high expectation. Everywhere it is a game of expectations versus reality.
    I think traveling is more fun when you keep it slow and go without expectations. Returning back a day before you join up your work, is another very important point thing.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Suruchi – yes I’ve found managing expectations is the big one 🙂

      I agree that traveling slow is a lot more enjoyable than fast paced trips – and definitely gives you a lot more flexibility to adapt and change plans if something does happen to go wrong.

  8. I just love the first point most – manage your expectations. This couldn’t be more true! There used to be a time when I first started traveling when social media was barely a thing, and because of this, so much less time was spent trying to capture that perfect photograph to share. We were more likely to just enjoy and care less about posting and sharing to the world. Now days, as you know, we see picture perfect photographs everywhere on social media and it can get into our heads that that is what our experience will be if we visit the same place! But many times it just isn’t! So important to just get your expectations in check – many things won’t go as expected, and they certainly won’t be perfect. But that is really the beauty of traveling. Plans are arguably meant to be broken! 🙂

    • Great parallel Alli – I agree that there seems to be a lot more pressure on travel now that social media has become so tied to the experience – I agree that I spend more time now focusing on photographs and perfectly capturing the moment than I used to, and so many people nowadays only post photos after some intense editing. Which doesn’t help mold the expectations of those who haven’t been. Instagram feeds these days are more exhibitions of art as opposed to a realistic display of their travels.

  9. Such great tips! I had a bad trip to Paris last year, and honestly I think it was a mix of expectation v reality and just not being kind to myself. The reality was that Paris just wasn’t for me, but then I spent the rest of my trip beating myself up about that and not really just going with the flow and trying to make the best of it. I think sometimes we can put for too much pressure on ourselves for holiday time and it isn’t always going to be perfect every time!

    • Paris is one which hits a lot of people – there’s actually a thing called Paris Syndrome now where people have really bad anxiety over the reality of Paris not living up to their over hyped expectations!!!

      I agree that we definitely put too much pressure on ourselves to make our vacations absolutely perfect, everytime. But we’re our own worst enemy in that sense! Need to scale it back and relax a bit 🙂

  10. Managing expectations is something a lot of people need to do. I have watched people scream in their hotel when it rains. Me I love when it rains. It keeps everyone in and lets me explore with smaller crowds.

    • Jesus – throw a tantrum because it’s raining!! Don’t they know they can just tell the concierge to turn off the weather 😛 I agree – I think rain, while an inconvenience when you’re traveling, gives you an excuse to visit indoor attractions like museums, and means less people are out if you’re happy exploring with a rain jacket and umbrella. I’ve found it also makes photography more interesting and dramatic too 🙂

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