Even the most veteran vacationers know that travel stress is unavoidable, especially when heading to the other side of the globe. There’s not much you can do about flight cancellations, bad weather or long lines. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do today that can help reduce stress, even if your trip is still weeks away:
Find a Currency Exchange at Home. Having just 20 euro in your pocket before you even land in Paris can go a long way in easing travel stress – that cup of coffee and croissant you were able to purchase right away may be just what you need to survive locating your missing baggage or that long cab line. Make sure to check the fees at the currency exchange first; however you may find they are no different than at the airport exchange that you were planning to use anyway. It may be a bit pricey, but if you are traveling alone or to a city where English is uncommon, having a reserve of local currency before you get there may help you avoid a major travel headache.
Pack a Mini-Medicine Cabinet. Someone in your party is bound to at least catch a cold especially if you’re traveling for an extended amount of time. Many everyday healthcare items like cough drops, allergy medicine or ibuprofen are not only difficult to find in some countries, but may contain very different formulas than their American counterparts. Plus, chances are, you won’t feel comfortable buying cough medicine for your daughter if the label is written in Polish and you’re not exactly sure what’s in it.
Consider a Cheap International Phone Plan. The opportunity to “unplug from the real world” may sound fantastic for six days. But you may be underestimating how much you use your phone for navigation, too. Remember that London Underground app you were so excited to download before your trip? It will be useless in helping you traverse the city without a cell signal. And if you’re thinking that you can just rely on hotel and restaurant Wi-Fi, know that your friends will be spending the first 20 minutes of every meal catching up on their texts, emails, and six social media accounts – rather than enjoying each other’s company.
Leave the Shoes at Home. The easiest way to pack light is to limit the amount of shoes you bring. Wedges, heels and boots are clunky, heavy and hard to squeeze in tight bags, so leaving that extra pair at home will save you a few pounds worth of luggage. That pair of adorable, strappy sandals that always end up giving you a blister? Unpack them immediately – you’ll be thankful after the 9 miles of walking between tourist attractions you’re bound to do. One more shoe trick: Wear your biggest pair of boots on the plane, so there’s no need to squeeze them into your suitcase.
Prepare for the Worst. Before you leave, make copies of your passport, license and any other important documents in case you lose them or they are stolen while abroad. Most likely, you won’t need them – but having photocopies of these documents can go a long way at the American Embassy when you’re just trying to get home. And these days, since no one memorizes phone numbers anymore, you should save a few emergency contact phone numbers in a spreadsheet and email it yourself. This way, you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection in case your phone goes missing.
Important details can get lost in the excitement of preparing for a big trip. But by taking a few minutes ahead of time to get your ducks in a row, you can limit the aggravation and hiccups that you’re sure to run into on your otherwise unforgettable vacation.