Vacation time can be a wonderful opportunity to relax and recharge. It gives you the space to take a step back, unwind, and maybe (if you’re lucky), lounge on sun-soaked sand with a view of swaying palm trees, or soothing waves. If you have some extra vacation time saved up, it can even be beneficial to make the most of your break by traveling somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.
However, if getting to your dream destination involves hopping multiple delayed flights and crisscrossing time zones, a “vacation” can quickly spiral into an exhausting ordeal that leaves you feeling more drained than before. In fact, a study from the American Psychological Association found that about one in five people report feeling tense while on vacation.
While it’s sometimes impossible to sidestep the stress of lost luggage or a delayed flight, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that the things that are in your control run as smoothly as possible.
Plan transportation to and from the airport
Figuring out how you will get to the airport is almost as important as planning your flight; after all, you won’t get to your destination if the plane leaves without you. And while getting back home isn’t usually as urgent as making a flight, worrying about transportation while on vacation can prevent you from fully relaxing.
Double-check that your ride — whether it’s your own vehicle, a friend’s, or a car service — is ready to go at the time you need to leave. (That can often mean texting your friend another time to remind them about their promise to drop you off, or setting a reminder to actually schedule your ride-share with enough time to factor in wait times.)
As a standard rule, you should arrive at the airport about three hours prior to international flights and two hours prior to domestic flights. It’s usually wise to factor in a little extra time if you will be traveling during popular times of year, like holidays or summer, or be on the road during peak traffic hours. Giving yourself this cushion will ensure that you have time to arrive at the airport, check luggage, go through security, and find the gate without a racing heartbeat when you hear your name on the intercom for last boarding call.
Go with the flow
This may actually be the most important thing to remember while on vacation: Go with the flow.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Really, truly, chill out.
No trip is perfect, but dwelling on little stressors will derail your happiness and get in the way of enjoying the time that you’ve taken for yourself. At the end of the trip, you’re not going to remember that you left your favorite pair of sunglasses at home, or that you missed an item or two on your extremely detailed itinerary.
What you will take with you is the memories you made, your connections with the places and people you encountered, and whether or not your vacation did what it was intended to: improve your well-being.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy.
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