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12 tips for a stress-free vacation

tips to a stress free vacationVacations are supposed to be a time to relax, unwind and enjoy the good things in life. So, why do I feel an anxiety attack coming on whenever I think about planning a family vacation?

For one thing, I have a tendency to worry too much. When I’m on vacation, I need to just go with the flow. I also believe that planning ahead can alleviate much of the stress that comes from traveling and being on vacation.

Here are 12 tips and strategies to help you have a relaxing and stress-free vacation:

Start planning early
Part of the stress of taking a vacation can be figuring out all of the details. It is even more stressful if you feel you don’t have time to look for good discounts on lodgings or fun activities. By giving yourself plenty of time to put together your vacation, you can enjoy the planning, finding bargains and the anticipation of relaxing and having fun.

Pick a good time
If you try to take a vacation during your busiest time of the summer, you will only add to your stress level. For instance, your job may be more hectic at the end of the month or certain times during the summer. Or, your kids may have summer camps or sports activities. If you can choose a time with fewer commitments, you will be less stressed about being away from home and missing something important.

Stick with a budget
Before you even decide where you’re going and what you’re doing, decide how much you want to spend. And, then stick to it! If you feel like you’re blowing your family’s budget or spending out of your means, you’ll be stressed and feeling uncomfortable about your vacation before you even leave. Plus, if you have a set budget before you begin, you can have realistic expectations for the type of vacation you can take.

Keep to your routine
Once you are on vacation, try to stick to your routine as much as you can. While you may want to stay up late and sleep in a little bit, you will feel better and more rested if you stay somewhat close to your regular sleep routine. In addition, if you normally eat breakfast or drink coffee in the morning, stick to it so that your body can keep to its normal rhythms as much as possible. Eat regular meals like you would at home. If you have young children, try to fit in naps or time to rest.

Allow for downtime
Speaking of rest, even adults and older kids need downtime. Try to leave gaps in your schedule so that you aren’t running from one event or activity to the next. Otherwise, you may find that you are stressed about trying to have fun and relax!

Be realistic
You will forget something. My husband once forgot his wallet – with his driver’s license and our extra cash. While it messed up our plans a little, we managed to have a great vacation. Your kids will fight. Even though you expect them to be on their best behavior because you’re on vacation, they will still get on each other’s nerves. You may have delays and unexpected setbacks. My husband and I were once stopped on the interstate (after a semi turned over and spilled toxic chemicals) for 5 hours in 90-degree weather with three young kids. But, you know what, our kids still talk about that trip and the people we met while we waited for Hazmat to clear the road.

Leave work at home
While we all think we are indispensable at work, most of us can be replaced for a few days. And, most companies and bosses will work with you to make sure you can actually be on vacation on your vacation. So, resist the urge to phone in, check your email or take work with you. You need the time to unwind and forget about work for a while. You will be a better employee when you return, and your family will be happy to have your full attention while you’re on vacation.

Remember to eat healthy
It’s tempting to want to pig out and eat things you normally wouldn’t eat when you’re on vacation. You should absolutely try new foods or dishes when you visit another part of the country or the world. At the same time, you need to stick to your healthy eating habits. Remember to eat the proper portions and include plenty of nutritious foods. You will feel better and be happier with yourself when you get back home.

Fit in exercise
If you normally workout at home, you should absolutely fit exercise into your vacation routine. You may have to get more creative with it or mix things up. Even if you just get out and walk, do some stretching in your hotel room or go swimming, you can still work in some exercise and enjoy your vacation.

Enjoy your time together
I have very fond memories of driving to North Dakota to visit family when I was eight years old. My brother and I argued about who was taking up more of the backseat. We saw Mount Rushmore and visited the Badlands. I was most fascinated by the little ground squirrels that would run up to us and beg for food. Our family still talks about things that happened on that vacation. So, enjoy the little things, the bizarre and the funny moments because you may be surprised what you will remember!

Try new things
Going on vacation is the perfect time to experience new things and push yourself beyond what you would normally do. It may be your only opportunity to enjoy what the place you’re visiting has to offer. So take a chance and do something different.

Just relax
If you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious on vacation, take a deep breath and tell yourself it will all work out. Everything doesn’t have to go as planned or be perfectly coordinated. You may even find that things work out better than you had planned. At the very least, you could end up with a funny vacation story to tell for years to come.

Do you have tips to help make vacations go more smoothly? How about a funny or strange thing that happened on vacation? We would love to hear from you!