Easy Ways to Handle Stressful Vacation Situations

Vacation is stressful! The old adage “I need a vacation from my vacation” was created for a reason. “Who has the boarding passes? Why did Lisa kick her shoes off? Who has the handi wipes? Didn’t we just pass this old Victorian church? Or is this a new one? I swear if we have to wait in another line I’m going to FREAK OUT!”

In honor of World Frustration Day on October 12th we wanted to help ease the tension on your next trip. We understand that going away can be quite a test on your patience and nerves. Whether you’re with your family, as a couple, a group of friends, or even alone – stressors loom around every corner. So we wanted to share a few tactics that can help you relax through the myriad of stressful events that may happen on your trip:

Woman Packing For Vacation Trying To Close Full Suitcase

Packing

Lesson 1: Pack lightly. Lesson 2: No, lighter than that. The more luggage you have, the heavier you stuff it, the most stressed out you’ll be when any other of the following situations occur. On your trip you’ll want to dress comfortably, but practically. When do you do pack, aim to bring your most versatile clothes, things that can be worn both actively, but also work as a piece for dressing up. Things you can sit, stand, and walk in for hours on end while still looking fashionable (if you so desire). Rolling your clothes instead of folding will accomplish two things: there will be more space in the suitcase and they won’t wrinkle.

Stuff every nook and cranny of the luggage, you’ll be surprised how many cubic inches you leave unused. Packing a small rolling suitcase will also make your life easier, rather than lugging a duffle bag. Plan ahead by going to a drug store and buying the tiny toiletries you may need on your trip, or the accessories that make travel easier like ear plugs and a sleep mask. And please, go light on the shoes, one or two pairs are sufficient. Spray the luggage with Febreeze to keep the odor fresh and weigh your luggage beforehand to avoid extra baggage fees. Don’t forget a distinct tag for everyone’s suitcase so it is easily recognizable at baggage claim!

delay of the flight

Flight Delay or Cancellation

This is definitely a “make the best of a bad situation” situation. You can never really be sure when a delay will hit you – yes it might be obvious because of snow or rain or cold, but sometimes there’s a mechanical fix or the wing’s need to be iced down or something happened halfway across the world that just somehow affected your trip. If you’re in an airport – head to the nearest restaurant, airline lounge, or bar and enjoy a bit of relaxation time. Did you bring some work with you or a book to read on the plane? Well, start digging in. Make sure you’re seated next to a recharging station, this delay might be awhile.

If you’re really afraid of delays or cancellations, buy flight insurance so you can head home without worry of losing your money. Know your rights when it comes to flights though, and feel free to tweet or Facebook the airline to get status updates and politely game the system. You could also go up to the customer service counter and ask what flights may get you to your destination faster, and they’ll probably rebook you. This may also be a good time to get some sleep to prevent jet lag (see below). You could also make some new friends at the gate, bond over the nuisance.

 

Woman relaxes in hotel room, asleep on bed

Jet lag

A disruption of your normal sleep schedule and a trip across multiple time zones can often lead to what is known as “jet lag”. There are many tips and tricks to combat this issue so your vacation isn’t ruined by lack of sleep. Taking care of your body is the first step, make sure you’re hydrated and eating healthy before your flight. If you’re on a red-eye, keep going the next day, don’t fall asleep at 9am and sleep through the day, you’ll really mess up your rhythm. Before you leave, start shifting your sleep schedule towards the time zone of where you’re headed – for instance, go to sleep an hour earlier two nights before, and two hours early the night before your trip – that can help you adjust. Avoid alcohol on the plane, your sleeping will be fragmented and you’ll wake groggy instead of refreshed (same with sleeping pills). Try taking melatonin (the hormone that helps you feel tired at night) to adjust your cycle.

Tourists with city map

Getting lost

There are two options to consider when you realize you’re lost in a place you’re not familiar with – enjoy the mystery, or solve the problem. If you don’t mind getting lost, just relax and throw yourself into the adventure of finding your way back. See the nooks and crannies of the city you may have missed by staying in the main tourist areas.

If you want to get back on the beaten path, the easiest step is to ASK someone! If you speak the language, asking how to get back to your vacation rental or restaurant or wherever should be a synch. Another option is to use your smart phone to pull up Google Maps or Apple Maps or whatever app you prefer for directions. Plot a course back to where you need to be. If you’re abroad and do not have an international data plan (though you should highly consider this add-on to your plan if going abroad for a week or more) you should download a map of the city or area when offline before you go. Search for a place in Google Maps and zoom in such that all the area that you wish to save is visible on the screen. Tap the Search button on the keyboard and all the visible area will download to your phone almost instantly.

Waiting in line

The tips for keeping a cool head while waiting in line are endless. The best way to stay calm is wait with a friend! When you’re inside your own head, things can get messy – but if you’re chatting alongside your travel buddy, the time passes faster. The more comfortable your clothes and shoes on, the easier it will be to “do the time” on the line. Make sure your phone is 100% charged before you leave the vacation rental so you can browse for hours if need be, and grab a snack or two to keep yourself fed. If you do have the kids around, try some distracting games like “I spy with my little eye…” or Simon Says. As always, the best tip is to get “there” early so waiting in line becomes less of a necessity. If you’re at a theme park – prioritize which rides you want to go on and try to get those done ASAP, so if there are lines, you know you’ll get on without issues at some point. If allowed, always use the Fast Pass option to cut the long lines. Lastly, bring your favorite book and always know where the closest bathroom is, just in case.

Man picking up wallet

Losing items

Lost items often stay lost, but if you act quickly, you can increase your chances of recovering your item. Don’t panic! Contact the location where you assume you left the item – be it a restaurant, vacation rental, sports stadium – wherever. It may be that a good Samaritan turned it in and it is in the “lost and found” of the establishment. If no luck, and you’re able, retrace your steps and see if you dropped it along the route you came either walking or biking etc. Call the cab company and see if you left it there. If you believe you were robbed, call the police and report the incident immediately. Back up your important documents (like passports) on your mobile device so you can pull them up on your phone in a pinch.

The best strategy though is awareness and prevention. Check for your valuable items always before leaving an area. If possible, don’t even bring valuables with you, so if you lose something, it wasn’t that important anyway.

Crying boy

Unruly children

Traveling with children of all ages is difficult, but young ones especially as they are thrown out of their normal routine into situations that challenge, excite, and confuse them. So the first tip is try to keep as much normal structure and as many rules as possible. If you can keep bedtimes, favorite snacks, toys, and electronics relatively the same, you’re off to a good start. Give the kids plenty of warning that the vacation is upcoming so they aren’t taken unawares, and begin teaching lessons about new situations that might arise, like an ethnic meal that they don’t like. Arrive to all of your events early as kids slow down the boarding/checking in process. Try to keep things simple and streamlined, not much bouncing from activity to activity each day. Schedule time to wind down before bed so kids can fall asleep easier. Watch the food intake on vacation because kids can whine for junk food and candy when on the go! The best way to keep children calm is to keep calm yourself, so keep your cool, if you can.

Typical auto rickshaw taxi tuk-tuk in Khao San Road Bangkok

Taking a taxi in a foreign country

You’re always on high alert when traveling in a taxi or haggling with locals while on vacation. You don’t want to get taken or made to look like a fool. As we mentioned above, it is important to have offline Google maps saved to atleast have a chance to direct the driver where to go. You could also take a physical map with you and try that way – if there’s a language barrier this is especially helpful since you can trace with your finger. In many countries it is still common to charge tourist different prices from locals, and it’s even more common to drive the taxi the long way in order to charge more, so be courteous but be alert!