The Road to Relaxation
The Road to Relaxation

Most of us picture our vacations as relaxing times to get away from the stress of the office, but the truth is that travel can be anything but relaxing. Airport security, nervous fliers stressing out everyone around them, missed connections, overcrowded flights and crying babies are just a few of the things that can send us over the edge. Don’t think your travels are any less stressful if you drive, either. Today, cross country road warriors also deal with record breaking high gas prices, fewer hotels and motels that accept on the spot reservations and the timeless question, “are we there yet?” MainStreet took a look 10 things that can make your trip less stressful, to help you make sure that your vacation is exactly what it should be: a chance to get away from it all. Photo Credit: Digital Vision

Pack Ahead of Time
Pack Ahead of Time

Whether you’re taking a car trip or flying, travel experts all suggest that you make a list of things you will need and pack at least one day ahead of time, to give you a buffer in case you forget anything. Donna Hull, a travel expert on baby boomer travel who runs the travel blog myitchytravelfeet.com, said she always packs for a trip ahead of time. “Being spontaneous is fine, but it can also add to stress,” said Hull. Photo Credit: Stockbyte

Know Your Triggers
Know Your Triggers

Hull said that being aware of your stress triggers is a big part of being able to travel comfortably. “If getting too hungry makes you irritable, take snacks,” said Hull. “If you don’t like crowds, find an empty gate while you wait.” Photo Credit: Comstock

Plan Your Time Carefully
Plan Your Time Carefully

Planning your itinerary seems like a really simple tip, but it’s one that too many people take for granted, says Vera Marie Badertscher, who runs the travel blog A Traveler's LIbrary. “Build in time to plan for emergencies,” says Badertscher, who recommends checking the airline’s website or signing up for a text message from the airline to let you know of any delays or schedule changes. “Get to the airport early and plan plenty of time between planes,” she says. This also goes for planning for time to get through those security lines. Badertscher also suggests treating extra time in the airport as leisure time. “It’s all a matter of attitude,” she said. “Explore the airport, take photos of interesting facades, shop, use the free wi-fi, read a book, or look at the art.” Another benefit of arriving early is that you may also get an upgrade into a better seat or section. Photo Credit: Creatas

Know Your Route
Know Your Route

Especially for road trips, Hull says travelers should make sure to have their route planned as specifically as possible. She recommends travelers check ahead along the route for possible delays and road closures and to call ahead for reservations at hotels along the way. Badertscher cautions travelers not to try to push themselves too far. “Don’t be so goal-oriented that you don’t stop at least every two hours to at least stretch and walk for five minutes at a time,” said Badertscher. Also, if you’re driving, Badertscher advises not to worry about having a clean, organized car but rather focus on making the trip more comfortable with audio books for the trip, for example. Photo Credit: StockByte

Take Advantage of Frequent Flier Perks
Take Advantage of Frequent Flier Perks

One of the common mistakes fliers make, said Dan Nainan, a New York-based comedian who logs 150,000 miles per year, is not to book with the same airlines so they can rack up frequent flier perks, noting that some of the perks he enjoys include flying first or business class and hanging out in the VIP lounges. “Fly with one airline,” advises Nainan. “I even met Anderson Cooper once in one of those lounges.” Nainan said that at first, you may not get the cheapest flights by sticking with only one airline, but your efforts will eventually pay off. “I get the cheapest tickets anywhere I fly now and I’m usually in first class.” Photo Credit: Digital Vision

Be Ready for Flight Delays or Missed Connections
Be Ready for Flight Delays or Missed Connections

Delays and bumped passengers seem to be happening more often now as airlines try to cram more passengers onto fewer flights. Nainan recommends that fliers affected by either take a deep breath and focus on solving the problem. “Instead of standing in a long line at customer service, call the airline from your cell phone,” said Nainan. “They can help you or maybe even tell you that you’ve already been rebooked.” Whatever you do, remain calm. “Always be nice with the representatives,” said Nainan. “No matter how angry you are, it is not necessarily their fault. If you’re nice to them, chances are they will try to do more for you.” You may also ask the representative for food and hotel vouchers, but do it on the down low. “If you do it in front of others, they may tell you that if they do it for you, they have to do it for everyone else. If you do it quietly you can respond, ‘But I’m the only one asking.” Also, he said, always remember to call the airline once you return from your trip. You may also get a voucher off of your next trip, especially if you were forced to spend the night someplace because of a delay or cancellation. Photo Credit: Creatas

Be Comfortable
Be Comfortable

There was a time when people put on their “Sunday best” to travel. “Those days are gone,” said Badertscher. “I dress as comfortably as possible, I’m never going to see those people again and it doesn’t matter what I wear.” Also be aware that airplanes are typically air-conditioned, so taking a sweater or jacket, even in the summer, is a good choice – especially since some airlines no longer provide blankets. Planes can also be hot if stuck on the tarmac for any length of time too, so dress in layers that can be added or removed.  Badertscher also takes a pillow to help support her back on long flights. Photo Credit: George Doyle

Tune it Out
Tune it Out

We’ve all had the occasional uncomfortable flight with the screaming babies, children running up and down the aisles, the hyperventilating nervous flier or the non-stop talking seat mate. Nainan said he uses noise-canceling earphones or earplugs when he travels by airplane. “I also use a sleep mask that is much better than the ones the airlines have,” said Nainan. “They make them so they block out light, but don’t touch your eyes.” If you don’t have noise reducing earphones, your personal music device is also a great way to block out the noise around you and is great for keeping the noise from kids out too. Photo Credit: Digital Vision

Take Advantage of What the Airports Offer
Take Advantage of What the Airports Offer

“Some airports are really like small cities these days,” said Badertscher. Most have a variety of shops, bars and restaurants, but did you know that some even have private wi-fi rooms, art galleries, private sleep rooms for long layovers and even massage therapists? If you’ve planned carefully and left yourself plenty of time between flights, you can take advantage of some of the same things at the airport that help you relax at home. Photo Credit: Stockbyte

Realize Stuff Happens
Realize Stuff Happens

Nainan said he maintains a “Zen-like” attitude while traveling, because it’s travel, and stuff will invariably happen. Hull recommends wearing a smile and passing it along, even with TSA agents. “Everybody hates the TSA,” said Hull. “The most important thing you can wear is a smile and I believe it also helps to relieve stress.” Photo Credit: Brand X Pictures

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