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Vacation season is almost here! Are you ready for fun, sun, and relaxation? Or will you have a week (or 2) filled with frustration, stress, and building credit card debt? If you want the former but tend to experience the latter, keep reading because I’ve got some sure-fire ways to stress proof your next vacation.
Plan ahead – Even if you prefer spontaneous travel, do a little research on your destination (or possible destinations). You don’t want to arrive somewhere smack dab in the middle of their HUGE yearly festival with no lodging to be found for 50 miles and no reservation. If you have special dietary needs and live in a large town or city you may be used to being able to custom order food in a restaurant, but that may not be an option in small towns. You may want to take food with you or research how readily available acceptable dining options will be in your destination. Believe me when I say that no matter how much this vegetarian used to love grilled cheese sandwiches, I lost my taste for them after 4 days of no other menu option for either lunch or dinner. Don’t let this happen to you!
Don’t over plan – Nothing puts a damper on relaxation and enjoyment like having a day filled with things to do and places to see with no allowance for spontaneity or deviating from the itinerary. Perhaps you could make three lists and call them 1) Must See/Do, 2)Really Want to See/Do, & 3)Would be Cool to See/Do IF There’s Time. Then put one thing from each list on the daily itinerary (bunched geographically, of course). Then, if your Must Do item is even greater than you expected and you want to spend more time there or you notice some unexpected place/attraction/whatever that you want to check out, simply take the “IF there’s time” item off the day’s itinerary. Voilá… instant spontaneity!
Make vacation a debt-free endeavor – This is simple, although not easy. It may even mean taking fewer, shorter or less exotic vacations. Maybe. But if that first credit card bill after vacation induces a small wave of panic or anxiety, you have to ask yourself if the fun and relaxation of vacation are worth the stress and anxiety incurred after you get home. Saving up for each vacation and only spending that amount will go a long way toward lowering your stress level and increasing your peace of mind. If you’re still not sure about this one, try thinking about it this way: 50 weeks of stress over paying vacation-induced credit card bills isn’t worth a mere 2 weeks of fun and relaxation. That’s not a fair trade off, at all!
Be an adventurer – Being an adventurer will be slightly (or radically) different for everyone. For the least adventurous, it could be as simple as being in the present moment as much as possible on vacation in order to fully appreciate your experience. It could be dusting off and exercising your sense of curiosity and wonder. It could also be trying something new; a new type of cuisine, a new type of lodging, or a new type of activity. Who knows, you just may find a new favorite food or open up new traveling options for the future.
Stress (no pun intended) quality over quantity – One amazing vacation is far superior to 4 that are merely “Meh.” That said, don’t confuse quality with luxury. I’m not suggesting you stay in 4-star lodgings or eat at 4-star restaurants. A well-maintained hotel or B&B offers a far superior vacation experience to a cheaper motel that’s infested with roaches, and far more financial peace of mind than a room at a luxury hotel. The same can be said for meals. If your hotel offers free breakfast and you like the selection of foods available, by all means take advantage of it. If, however, you have a dietary restriction of some sort and the only options available to you are unappealing or unacceptable (or if you have NO dietary restrictions but your options are unappealing), you will ultimately be less stressed by shelling out the bucks to eat breakfast somewhere else. Apply this principal to anything vacation-related and you’ve got the idea.
Do you have some sure-fire ways to reduce stress on your vacations that I didn’t mention? Please share them in the comments; and don’t forget to share this post with all your peeps.