Just looking at the airport security screening process can make your stress levels sky-rocket.

For many travellers the anticipation of a holiday is almost as exciting as the actual trip itself. Thinking of all the places you’ll see and the memories you’ll create with people you love—it’s hard not to get excited about that. Then, invariably, as the departure date creeps closer, we are struck with a sense of uneasiness and stress. There are a number of reasons for stress to strike before and during holidays, and usually it’s because we can be caught off-guard in unfamiliar situations. It’s hard to avoid every single potential situation that may result in anxiety, but there are a few common problems you can anticipate and solve before they even begin. Follow these tips to relieve five common stressful travel scenarios during your next holiday.

Stressor 1: Packing

How do you know how much is too much? Or too little? Or what you’ll need for a country and an adventure you’ve never taken before? Or what you may be forgetting altogether?

Stress Reliever:

The easiest way to keep track of what you need, what you’ve packed and what’s missing is by creating a master list of everything for your holiday. Everyone has over-packed or forgotten something essential before, but chances of a repeat go down significantly when you learn from the errors and plan ahead. As you get closer to departure, get in touch with your travel companions to make sure no one is double-packing the same item and everyone who is responsible for specific items is aware of their commitment. Also think about timing—if you’re going to be gone more than two weeks, maybe you should plan for a laundry day somewhere along the way instead of packing enough clothing options to last the whole trip.

Stressor 2: Airport Security

If you are familiar with the airport security process, you can prepare ahead of time by knowing what not to pack, what to keep at the top of the bag and what documents to always have on hand. What about the perpetual unknowns though? Long lines can have you checking your watch constantly to make sure you’ll get to the gate in time, and just the screening process itself can leave any traveller weary and frazzled.

Stress Reliever:

The best way to alleviate anxiety with airport security and timing is to make sure you are at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Better to be early and comfortable than running late and feeling like a crazy person. Most major airports have estimated screening times on their websites. A general rule is to arrive at least 90 minutes before for your flight is scheduled to depart and even earlier for busy holiday travel, and to arrive closer to 3 hours prior to international flights. Plan for extra time by bringing a good book, some new music or finding a quick pre-flight meal.

Stressor 3: Getting Lost

You’ve touched down in a new city where you can’t read the map, let alone street signs. How are you supposed to find the bus to take you to the right hotel or hostel if you can’t communicate with anyone? It can be stressful trying to find your way in a foreign city with no guidance.

Stress Reliever:

First up—take a deep breath and stay calm. Locals are usually willing to help—even if you don’t speak their language. Before you leave for your holiday, make sure you know how to ask for help in the local language or, even better, write it down on a card. Even if they can’t respond verbally, they can read the card and point you in the right direction. If you need additional help, try stopping at a hotel to ask for assistance, as the staff there is more likely to speak English than stopping a random person on the street.

Stressor 4: Getting Sick

It may seem impossible to not catch a cold or get sick while you’re out of town. No one wants a holiday ruined by trips to the doctor and medical bills piling up as someone tries to get better from an unexpected sickness.

Stress Reliever:

The best way to avoid getting sick is to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and keep yourself and your surroundings as clean as possible. All modes of transportations are packed with people carrying their own germs and hygiene habits, but by controlling your own and staying clean, you’ll be light-years ahead of the germs. Another fool-proof plan to stop worrying about getting sick is to get travel health insurance where your policy covers medical needs and costs in the off-chance you come down with something while abroad. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, try your best to rest regularly and eat well. You may be running on a different schedule and enjoying more exotic foods, but the more you stick to your normal patterns, the less likely your health will be disrupted.

Stressor 5: Travelling with Parents or In-Laws

At first it seemed like a great idea—how fun would it be to go on holiday with mom and dad? Sometimes underlying stressors from childhood can resurface when travelling, and no one wants to be treated like a child if they are no longer a child, especially while on a trip.

Stress Reliever:

Have a frank conversation with your parents or in-laws before the holiday begins about your expectations of them during the trip. They may be used to a certain dynamic between you and them, but if you let them know what you expect from them (you’ll pick up a tab or two, how expenses will be determined, etc.) they’ll be better prepared to stray from what they’re used to. See what activities they want to do, then plan some together and some apart so everyone has family time and alone time. Planning ahead may save future fights and aggravations down the road if you find yourself travelling with parents or in-laws.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Dan Paluska