There are few things more important in life than traveling abroad and immersing yourself in someone else’s culture. However, we’ll be the first to admit that international travel can be stressful. Are there ways to make it less frustrating and to maximize enjoyment?
Common Sources of Friction
Travel is supposed to be fun and exciting, but it’s often more complicated than that. When traveling, the following sources of friction often carve out a path for stress and anxiety to flood in:
- Travel issues. The friction usually starts from the very beginning. Traveling – particularly by air – can be enormously stressful. Things like delayed flights, missed connections, long security lines, and lost luggage can all throw a trip into disarray.
- Language barrier. One of the cool aspects of traveling internationally is that you get the chance to experience unique cultures. But for travelers who only speak their own native tongue, trying to communicate in a foreign language is tough and trying.
- Divergent opinions. Traveling with other people? It’s downright impossible to make everyone happy – especially when there are so many different opinions, interests, and desires.
- Cost. It’s easy to think that a trip will cost one amount, only to see it dramatically rise after you arrive. For those on a budget, the constant weighing of costs for food, transportation, and experiences is enough to cause significant stress and financial anxiety.
These are just a few of the common sources of friction we’re all familiar with. Depending on your personality and experiences, you may be able to toss in a few more. The important thing is that you recognize what’s causing your stress so that you can directly address it.
4 Tips for Reducing Stress
There will always be certain elements of international travel that create friction, but you can reduce and eliminate much of the stress by heeding the following advice:
1. Be Smart About Flying
Air travel is designed to be inconvenient, but you need to make smart decisions about how you fly in order to enjoy these perks. Here are a few pointers:
- Whenever possible, pay the slight premium to get a direct flight to your destination. While connecting flights are cheaper, they also increase your chances of delays and missed connections.
- Sign up for memberships and perks that allow you to bypass security lines or speed up check-in. Even saving 15 or 20 minutes on the morning of a flight can make you breathe easier.
- Avoid checking luggage whenever possible. Not only does it increase the amount of time it takes to board your flight, but there’s a risk of lost luggage.
With just a little extra planning, you can make your flying experience stress-free and enjoyable. Take the time on the front end to iron out the details.
2. Pack Light
If you’re someone who likes to prepare for everything, you’ll be tempted to grab the largest suitcase you can find and fill it to the top with every possible item you could ever need – but don’t!
More stuff equals more stress. By packing light, you lessen the burden of having to carry around a bunch of personal belongings. This frees you up to focus on enjoying the trip.
3. Hire a Tour Guide
With the internet, it’s possible to plan your own itinerary and map out every event for every day you’re traveling. However, don’t underestimate the importance of hiring a tour guide to take care of these details for you. This permits you to relax and immerse yourself in the experience.
In many countries, tours can be booked quite affordably. For example, a luxury Egyptian tour package with an expert Egyptologist runs somewhere around $250 per person per day. Well worth it!
4. Be in the Moment
In a day and age of social media and selfies, it’s easy to get so caught up in creating digital memories for your friends that you fail to make real memories for yourself. Put down the electronic devices and live in the moment. You’ll cherish your experience much more and look back on you travels with great fondness that can’t be replicated in an Instagram post.
Enjoy the Experience
Travel isn’t always comfortable – nor should it be. Part of the travel experience is about getting out of your comfort zone and seeing the world through a different lens. However, there are plenty of ways to make your travel more comfortable by reducing stress and friction. Hopefully this article has provided you with some actionable advice that can be implemented moving forward.