Traveling can be stressful. Whether it’s overbooked planes, canceled flights or lost luggage, traveling can present frustrating and unpredictable situations with no warning. And while you can’t exactly plan for situations like this, you can control how you react to them.
Here are five therapist-approved tips for avoiding stress while traveling:
Get some sleep
While the excitement of your upcoming trip might keep you up at night, getting a good night’s sleep before traveling is crucial. Not only will you be in better shape for your travels — when you’re tired and cranky, it’s a lot more likely that a stressor will push you over the edge — but you’ll be better prepared to deal with a different time zone.
Make a plan
We all plan ahead for trips — getting the best deals on flights and hotels, making sure our work is covered while we’re gone — but when it comes time to actually get ready, a lot of just go with the flow. But a little extra planning can ensure a smooth, stress-free departure. A checklist can be a big help.
“I plan ahead to make sure I stick to my same schedule as much as possible. This includes steps like having my favorite snacks on hand and maintaining my regular meal times,” Erica Basso, a marriage and family therapist based in Los Angeles, California, told HuffPost.
Talk to yourself
Anxiety tends to come from overthinking, and traveling is a breeding ground for negative thoughts. Whether its long TSA lines or rude travelers, getting control of your mind is a good way to combat those negative emotions.
“Instead of saying, ‘I feel anxious about my upcoming trip,’ try to name the exact problem,” advised psychologist Jaime Kurtz, Ph.D., author of “The Happy Traveler: Unpacking the Secrets of Better Vacations.” “Once you know what the exact worry is, it can be easier to make a plan to help manage it.”
Accept the chaos
No matter how much planning you do, things can still go wrong. When those things are beyond your control, sometimes the best thing to do is just accept it and move on. Instead of blowing up, try a grounding exercise.
“One of my favorite grounding techniques is called 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding, where you engage your senses by naming five things that you can see, four things that you can feel through touch, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste,” explained Sage Grazer, a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, to HuffPost.
Like the popular Snickers commercials say, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.” That’s definitely true when you’re traveling. All that constant moving can distract you from getting a bite to eat or drinking enough water. But a lack of nourishment can cause aches, pains, headaches and more.
“Well-nourished bodies cope better, so start with a good breakfast, add more organic fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods and sugar, and drink more water,” advised Malaika Stoll, M.D. in Sutter Health.