Regardless of whether you’re a frequent flyer or a once-a-year vacationer, if you’re unprepared, delayed, or of a nervous disposition travel can induce stress and anxiety in us all. It’s no wonder then that there are so many travel hacks and tricks designed to keep us sane when we’re exploring the world outside our own backyard.
After seven years of frequent travel I’ve developed my own routine for pre-trip prep, long haul flights, and navigating public transport, but there are some things that I just can’t control. Things like heartburn (also known as acid reflux), and indigestion which can be caused by stress, but come on at a moment’s notice and are very uncomfortable if not treated immediately.
Now you may be wondering why I’ve started talking about acid reflux? Well, recently the team at Rennie contacted me to ask how I relax when travelling. They were putting together an infographic detailing how different cultures choose to chill out when stressed, and wanted to know how I manage the often stressful task of international travel. So here’s my guide…
This post is in conjunction with Rennie but all thoughts are my own.
Limit your screen time
I know it’s ironic that a travel blogger is advising you to disconnect and switch off your devices, but the more screen time you have when you’re away, the less your mind and body will be able to focus on unwinding.
Here are some fun and horrifying things I learned from the work of happiness researcher, Amy Blankson:
- We spend 2 hours a day, 38 days a year, locking and unlocking our phones
- The average human attention span has gone below that of a goldfish
- Checking email only 3 times a day reduces stress by 25%
Pre-book as few activities as possible
Of course, this depends on the kind of trip you’re taking, but wherever possible don’t over commit yourself to too much before you’ve even arrived on location.
I always try to choose one or two must-see or must-trys per location, and then go with the flow and see what takes my fancy when I arrive. This way I’m giving myself the opportunity to just lay by the pool for an afternoon or wander around the locale if I want to.
Eat a balanced diet
Believe me, I know that it’s tempting to ditch your usual eating and drinking habits when on holiday, but if you’re really trying to de-stress, then opt instead for a plant heavy meal choices with a low alcohol intake.
Here are my quick fix suggestions:
- Avoid airline and airport food, pack a picnic (just remember to eat it before you go through immigration)
- Ditch the sugar-laden snacks offered in your hotel mini-bar and choose fresh local fruits instead
- Don’t skip breakfast, but don’t go crazy at the buffet. Eat the same size portion you would at home
- Tailor your meals to your destination and choose dishes that are made with local and seasonal ingredients
- Indulge strategically and keep a tab on your calorie count for the day, you really don’t want to break your daily average too often or you’ll return much heavier. Even though taking a Rennie will help you in the short term, there’s nothing relaxing about post-holiday bloat
Choose like-minded travel buddies
Travelling with someone whose interests are the exact opposite of yours is no fun, unless you’re trying to broaden your horizons.
If you do find yourself with someone who’s tastes aren’t the same as yours, make your own plans during daylight hours and meet up for dinner each evening to discuss the day’s events!
Practice yoga when you wake up
Even though I always recommend it, this is something I need to do more of actually. Last February I travelled to Finland with Yoga bunny Cat Meffan (check out her YouTube yoga videos they’re ace), and she spent most of our layover in Helsinki on her yoga mat.
I find that yoga helps me to focus my often chaotic mind and release the tension that has built up during a long haul flight.
Stay active and exercise outside
Keeping your activity levels up when on vacation can aid in your quest for relaxation, it’s actually been proven that exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Avoid long haul destinations
There’s a long list of negative effects that are common place amongst those who jet off to far-flung destinations.
I’m sure many of your reading this will have felt over tired, tetchy and bloated (shoes, for example, feeling tight on swollen feet), as well as being plagued by headaches and indigestion when flying either to or from your holiday destination.
Simple solution, spend less time in the air and more time enjoying your vacation. Look for short haul trips when possible.
CHECK OUT THESE INSPIRING TRAVEL GUIDES
Whatever the length of your flight my first piece of advice is avoid alcohol and stick to water. Depending on whether you’re in premium or economy you should also consider packing a picnic and declining the often tragic meal provided by the airline.
Maximise your holiday allowance
There’s much to be said for taking a vacation, but there’s merit in maximising the number of days you can stay away. If you’re working full time be tactical and plan trips around the bank holiday dates that pop up throughout the year.
This guide helps you figure out when to stay grounded and when best to book.
Give yourself time to adjust on your return home
Finally, don’t make the mistake of trying to maximise your relaxation time to the point where you return home at 10pm on a Sunday and then have to hit the office at 7am the following morning.
No one needs a reality check quite like that after a trip abroad.
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