As much as I am a proponent of traveling light, going on vacation without any luggage, despite what the title might insinuate, is not a fantastic idea. Baggage in this sense refers to the bad kind. The physical and emotional kind. The stress.
Many people don’t take vacations because they find them – the things that are supposed to refresh and re-energize us – too stressful. It’s true. Think about airport delays, security check, long lines and excess baggage fees. Think about language barriers, getting sick, getting lost and spending too much money. Think about jetlag. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling stressed already!
But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here’s how you can take the baggage out of vacationing:
1. Pack Like a Pro
Do not, I repeat, do not wait until late the night before to pack your bag (notice how I said “bag” singular). That’s just asking for trouble. It’ll go one of two ways. You’ll either spend all night getting it together, or you’ll throw a bunch of randomness into a suitcase and not have what you need (or go into the realm of excess baggage).
Start packing early. Think about your intended trip activities.
Consult the experts. Ladies, you may enjoy a site called Her Packing List that helps women take what they need and leave what they don’t.
Weigh it up. Check your airline’s baggage restrictions and make sure you aren’t going over.
Check the weather. And pack accordingly.
Guard against spills, leaks and breakage. Take anything breakable as carry-on, and try to invest more in solid rather than liquid toiletries. Try out solid perfumes and solid shampoo bars.
Leave space in your luggage. You want to come back with souvenirs, right?
Lock it down. But make sure your lock is TSA friendly!
Take less. You’ll have fewer items to worry about.
2. Plan, Not Too Little, Not Too Much, But Just the Right Amount
There’s a fine line between planning too little and being an anal-retentive micromanager. Obviously you want to have a few activities lined up, but you also need to have time to zone out, be in the moment, and be spontaneous if opportunity arises. Be realistic with your planning. Trying to do it all can only lead to burnout, fatigue, and that baggage we call “stress”.
3. Don’t Blow the Budget
And don’t forget to make one, too! The last thing you need after a stressful vacation is to come home with negative dollars and unable to pay next month’s rent. You also don’t want to get to your destination and realize it is about 10 times more expensive than you imagined. Do some simple research. That internet thing makes it easy, remember?
4. Take a Chill Pill
Seems like a no-brainer, but for those of us who spend our days constantly moving and shaking, with our minds going a mile a minute, it’s not easy to suddenly pop a squat with a journal or a book for more than 20 minutes. Force yourself to slow down. Put yourself in calming situations throughout the day – relaxing by a pool with a book, napping in a hammock, watching a movie while taking a bath, and just doing some old-fashioned stargazing. And enjoy those meals already instead of woofing them down like you’re still on the clock. It’s better for digestion anyway.
After booking your trip, head to your doctor and get that smartphone surgically removed from your hand. Leave it behind if you’re daring enough! Do not check back with work.
6. Go Where Others Have Gone
The novelty of navigating to unchartered lands is quickly worn away by the inability to speak to another human being, to find the way home and to know what one is eating. Instead of trying something new when you really need to just relax and unwind, why not go to a familiar place, or at least one where the groundwork has already been laid. Adventurous travel is not a vacation; it’s work.
7. Seek the Sunshine
It’s no secret that a bit of sunshine puts people in a better mood. Head somewhere warm and sunny on that vacation if you want to feel all good and happy inside.
Getting enough sleep is one of the components of maintaining a stress-free life, so the same goes for a stress-free vacation. And don’t forget to sleep prior to the trip as well. It’s tempting to go out the night before a big flight, or to stay up all night packing, with the mindset that you’ll sleep on the plane, but do you? If you’re someone who simply can’t sleep on planes, keep up your normal sleep schedule and bring a good book to read while in-flight.
9. Book a Tour or Guide
Just do it. Putting the planning in someone else’s hands is often worth every penny. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
10. Trip Insurance
Travel is full of unknowns. Do your plans get cancelled because of an accident? Does your luggage get lost in transit? Purchasing trip insurance can help put your mind at ease knowing there is a backup in place should vacation disasters strike.
11. Keep an Eye on Your Health
Along with getting enough rest, eat some healthy meals in between boozing and binging, and bring along some vitamins. Being in contact with different environments and different bacteria and viruses already compromises your immune system. Don’t let sickness ruin your vacation.
12. Give Yourself Space
From whoever you’re traveling with. Even if you’re on a romantic trip with the love of your life, chances are after a few days of living every second together, you’ll start to get a little on edge. Take a step away from time to time, even if it’s just a morning coffee run or an afternoon jog.
13. Give Yourself a Spare Day or Two
Getting home and then heading straight back to work is no way to end a holiday. Although it makes sense to use up every last minute of that precious vacation time away from home, it doesn’t exactly help you to relax and recover. There is a thing called jetlag. There’s also a thing called flight delay. Play it on the safe side.