8 Stress-Free Travel Tips for a Trip That’s Actually Relaxing


We’ve all been there: You get back home after a whirlwind vacation and think, “I feel like I need another vacation after that.” A pang of guilt usually accompanies this confession because it’s pretty much the definition of a champagne problem, but I’m here to validate you. If you’re spending a considerable chunk of change on a trip, you don’t want to come home and feel like you need another break just to recover from it. Maybe you stuffed your itinerary to the brim with activities, spent the whole time unable to unwind, or felt like you ran into roadblocks at every turn. Whatever reason you feel even more exhausted after your “break,” we’re here to ensure you can actually relax on the next one. Keep scrolling for our top stress-free travel tips to ensure your trip is smooth sailing.

stress-free travel tips
Source: Dupe Photos | Lotte

1. Set trip expectations

Stress-free travel starts well before you even leave home. During the planning phase, take some time to set your intentions for this vacation. Are you looking to relax on the beach for a week? Do you want to immerse yourself in the culture and live like a local? Do you want to check off every tourist destination in the city? It’s helpful to decide all of this ahead of time so you’re not cursing yourself on the backend for spending your days wandering museums instead of finishing your beach read by the ocean like you really wanted.

Once you’ve set your own personal expectations, be sure to have a conversation with your travel companions about theirs. This way, if you want different things, you can come up with a compromise or plan solo days to split up and do your own thing. The last thing you want is to feel like your travel partners are throwing off your ideal itinerary. Your trip might have made it out of the group chat, but you also want the group chat to survive the trip.

2. Schedule rest time

When planning your itinerary, your head is probably swarmed with details like hotel bookings, sightseeing tours, and restaurant reservations. You’re so focused on all the things you want to do, you forget to consider scheduling time to do… nothing. However, carving out rest time will make your trip so much more relaxing. Consider planning a night in at your hotel just to enjoy room service and a good movie, or spend an afternoon sitting at a café and people-watching as you work up a second wave of energy for dinner. Setting aside this time on the front end allows you to actually enjoy taking a break instead of feeling guilty for not spending every second of your vacation doing something. It also helps prevent you from accidentally booking things too close together. Trust me, future you will thank you for organizing some chill time.

3. Make reservations ahead of time

I don’t know about you, but every time I go on vacation, I feel like 70 percent of my time is spent figuring out where to eat. Especially when traveling with a large group, your options can be super limited on short notice. To get some of that time back, make a few restaurant reservations ahead of time so you don’t have to spend your precious vacation time anxiously scrolling OpenTable, trying to find somewhere that can squeeze you in. You’ll also be able to try more popular and well-rated restaurants when you reserve a table ahead of time.

Beyond just food reservations, booking transportation and tour tickets beforehand can also save you a ton of time on your trip. This helps you avoid tickets unexpectedly selling out and allows to you schedule the rest of your itinerary around your must-see events.

stress-free travel tips
Source: Dupe Photos | Tina

4. Know your budget

There is no feeling of anxiety quite like finally checking your bank account after a vacation where you know you did more damage than expected. Instead of letting financial stress put a damper on your trip, create a budget beforehand based on how much you’re comfortable spending. Then, as long as you’re within budget, you can treat yourself and indulge in the vacation you deserve without the guilt or fear of overspending. It’s a little more work upfront but allows you to be more in the moment while traveling.

5. Stick to a few cities

When traveling, especially internationally, you want to make the most of your expensive flight and see as much as possible while you’re there. However, packing in too many cities can quickly turn your trip from calm to chaotic. It’s all too easy to try to do too much and end up feeling too rushed to enjoy any of it. When in doubt, take your time getting to know one city more intimately—it’ll be more relaxing than spreading yourself too thin and constantly darting around.

6. Don’t overthink the trip

You know those nights when you have to wake up really early the following day, so you try to get in bed early and intensely will yourself to sleep so you aren’t tired the next day, but you end up getting less sleep than a typical night because you keep overthinking? A similar phenomenon can happen on vacation as you try to force yourself to relax and end up the opposite. Yes, planning ahead is helpful, but so is going with the flow and allowing yourself to live in the moment. During your trip, practice mindfulness to remain present and keep your brain from putting too much pressure on yourself. It’ll go a long way in helping you feel renewed when you return.

stress-free travel tips
Source: Dupe Photos | Ashley

7. Unplug

It can be hard to disconnect from the craziness of life at home, but unplugging is essential to a relaxing vacation. Yes, that includes work. Silence those Slack and email notifications and close your laptop. After all, you have PTO for a reason. Aside from work-related distractions, try to limit time on your phone so you can fully experience your vacay. Obviously, it’s normal to want to snap a few Insta-worthy pics while traveling, but your trip exists outside your phone, and getting too wrapped up in how it looks on social media can cause you to miss the moments you’re experiencing.

8. Give yourself a buffer day

I am a massive proponent of buffer days when traveling. Giving yourself an extra day upon arrival to get acclimated to your destination allows you to have a spontaneous day to get to know the city, allowing a stress-free introduction to your destination. At the end of a trip, the buffer day is even more important. You don’t want to land late at night and immediately return to work at 9 a.m. the next day. A buffer day lets you get all your affairs in order before jumping back into the real world. This can keep your mental to-do list at bay while vacationing because you know you have a day to get your life together when you get home.

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