Ten Tips for Planning a Stress-free Vacation

vacation planning tipsWhy does it sometimes seem like people have an easier time being stressed than being relaxed? For many, vacation time offers this very challenge.

The secret to a stress-free vacation is in the details. Once your details are organized you’ll enjoy the confidence and peace of mind as your break begins. Plan now so you can relax and put your brain on autopilot later. Try these stress-free vacation planning tips:

  1. Schedule all preparation steps. Create a list of all the pre-trip tasks and schedule them over the weeks and days approaching your trip. This includes packing, holding mail, notifying neighbors, and pet care.
  2. Create packing lists. Make the important decisions before you open your suitcase or load your car. It’s easy to overlook the obvious when you’re knee deep in packing.
  3. Prep the car. If you’re planning a road trip be sure to schedule service time. Get the oil and air filter changed, check your tire pressure, fill up the gas, and give it a good clean up before you go. It makes the travel time that much more enjoyable.
  4. Check the weather. Having even a rough idea as to how the weather will behave can positively impact your packing and preparation.
  5. Make flying preparations. Prepare your carry-on accessories and toiletries for the security line. Check in online. Most airlines now allow you to print your own boarding passes, and many airports allow you to pass up the ticket lines and check your own bag via kiosk.
  6. Get your directions together. This includes all roadways in and around your destination. Finding your way out a rental car lot can even be a stressful experience. Take the necessary steps to chart your course.
  7. Create a budget. Sit down and establish reasonable expectations for each day of your trip. Knowing your limits now will save you from major anxiety when the credit card bill arrives.
  8. Create an activities list. This is most useful if the weather ruins beach time for you and your kids. Search online for movie theaters, museums, and other interesting area destinations.
  9. Create a schedule. It doesn’t have to be a strict daily regimen, but having a general goal and activity planned for each day keeps your time focused, and keeps expectations reasonable.
  10. Take time to relax. Each day, make an appointment with yourself to breathe life in, and exhale your stress. Don’t go home wishing you relaxed more. Make it a conscious effort.

Do you have any special tips for organizing your vacation time? Please share your ideas by commenting below.

Return to July 2010 eTalk: US edition | Canada edition

3 thoughts on “Ten Tips for Planning a Stress-free Vacation

  1. Regarding #8, the activities list. I took this a few steps farther. I researched the attractions we wanted to see and made a page for each, including hours of operation, fees, and special things we didn’t want to miss at each location. I then marked the location of each on a map of that city, along with our hotel, and that made it a snap to plan how to get there and what to do if our plans changed at the last minute due to the weather.

  2. I always plan a buffer day between getting home and going back to work. This gives me time to unpack, do laundry, go through the mail, go to the grocery store etc. Otherwise, all the relaxation and stress reduction seems to disappear if I am in whirlwind when I try to “catch up”

  3. When I traveled by RV, I had a change rack for my center tray that held $20 in quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies to use on toll roads and bridges. Also, a $10 roll of quarters will give you peace of mind so you don’t have to find a change machine for laundromats. I didn’t carry much cash and rather than carry traveler’s checks, I would use my debit card for purchases at the grocery store and get cash back when needed: no worries if my bank had no ATMS in the location.

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