Do you have a big trip coming up? You could be feeling a mix of excitement and dread. While traveling can be a lot of fun, it can also be stressful. Today, we'll talk more about what makes travel so stressful for some people, as well as how to reduce travel stress with several actionable steps and tips.
First, let's talk about what travel stress means before we dive into 13 reasons traveling can stress you out and how to reduce travel stress.
What is Travel Stress?
Travel stress is the feeling of anxiety, worry, or fear that can come up when planning or during travel. For some people, the very thought of upcoming travel can be stressful. Other people might not start feeling stressed until they're in the middle of their trip and things aren't going as planned. And still, others might feel fine during the trip but then have a lot of anxiety afterward, reflecting on everything that went wrong.
There's no right or wrong way to feel about travel. Some people love planning trips and packing their bags, while others find it a chore. And that's okay! Knowing your tolerance for travel-related activities is essential, so you can plan accordingly and reduce travel stress.
Travel and Eustress
It's also worth talking about how travel and eustress are related. Eustress is positive stress or stress that motivates you to do something or leads to a beneficial experience. For example, if you're feeling stressed about an upcoming work presentation that could get you a promotion, that's often eustress. The goal is to reduce harmful stress while keeping some positive pressure in your life.
Travel can be a great source of eustress. It can motivate you to plan, learn more about other cultures, and step outside of your comfort zone. But it's crucial to find the right balance so that travel doesn't become too overwhelming.
13 Reasons Traveling Can Stress You Out
Now that we've talked a little bit about what travel stress is, let's discuss 13 reasons why traveling can be so stressful for some people. Although travel can be a great stress reliever for some, it can also be a source of stress in some situations rather than alleviating it.
Planning the Trip
For some people, the planning stage is the most stressful part of travel. There's so much to think about and organize! Flights, hotels, car rentals, activities—not to mention, trying to find the best deals on all of those things. It can be overwhelming, especially if you're planning a trip for more than just yourself.
Packing is another one of those things that can be stressful. What do you need to bring? What if you forget something important? Will everything fit in your suitcase? These questions and concerns can make packing a stressful experience.
Leaving Your Comfort Zone and Disrupting Your Daily Routine
Travel is about leaving their comfort zone and exploring new places for some people. But for others, the thought of being in a new place where they don't know anyone or anything can be extremely anxiety-provoking. If you're someone who feels more comfortable at home with your daily routine, travel can be a very stressful experience.
Dealing with Jet Lag
Jet lag is that feeling of fatigue and disorientation that can come from traveling to a different time zone. It's caused by your body's natural circadian rhythm (internal clock) being out of sync with the local time. Jet lag can make it difficult to sleep, stay focused, and feel energetic, all of which can lead to increased stress levels.
Whether you're gone for a day or a month, traveling can sometimes make you miss home. If you're homesick, it can be tough to enjoy your trip. When you're feeling homesick, reaching out to your friends and family back home is smart. Talking to them can help reduce travel stress and make you feel more connected.
Dealing with Financial Stress
For some people, travel is a luxury they have to save for months or even years in advance. This contributes to a lot of financial stress on top of the already stressful experience of planning and taking a trip. Additionally, once you're on your trip, you might spend more money than anticipated, which can add even more financial stress.
Losing Track of Time
It can be easy to lose track of time when you're on vacation. One minute it's Monday morning, and the next, it's Friday afternoon. This can be disorienting and lead to feeling out of control. This lack of control and routine can be very stressful for some people.
Dealing with Illness or Injury
Unfortunately, sometimes people get sick or injured while they're traveling. This can be a very stressful and unpleasant experience, especially if you're in a foreign country and don't speak the local language.
On that note, language barriers can also be a source of stress when traveling. If you don't speak the local language, communicating with people and getting your needs met can be difficult. This can lead to feeling frustrated, isolated, and stressed.
Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation that can come from being in a place with a culture that's very different from your own. Sometimes culture shock can be fun, but other times it’s entirely overwhelming.
Having Your Belongings Lost or Stolen
Another potential stressor while traveling is having your belongings lost or stolen. So again, it's helpful to be aware of this possibility and take steps to prevent it. But even if you do everything right, there's still a chance it could happen, so don’t blame yourself if it does.
Dealing with Difficult Situations
There are all sorts of difficult situations that can arise while traveling. For example, you might miss your flight, have your wallet stolen, or get lost in a foreign city. While these situations can obviously be stressful, it's important to remember that they're also relatively rare. Most people have positive experiences while traveling.
This year, airports have been even more chaotic than usual. With staff shortages and more people traveling again, it's been a perfect storm for long lines, delays, and cancelations. This can naturally add a lot of stress to the experience of travel.
How to Reduce Travel Stress
Now that we've discussed some reasons why traveling can be so stressful let's discuss ways to reduce that stress.
While you can't plan for EVERYTHING on a trip, knowing you have a plan in place when the unexpected or unpleasant happens can make a big difference in your efforts to reduce travel stress.
Start packing early
Don't wait until the last minute to start packing for your trip. This will just add to your stress levels. Instead, start packing in advance so you have plenty of time to complete everything. It's also wise to pack light when you can. This makes it easier to get around and reduces the chances of losing or misplacing your belongings. Not to mention, it will also do the packing and unpacking a breeze.
Invest in travel insurance to reduce travel stress
If you're worried about things like lost baggage, cancelations, or illness, consider investing in travel insurance. This can give you valuable peace of mind knowing that you'll be reimbursed if something goes wrong.
Choose your travel companions wisely
This one is key. Traveling with someone who is always stressed out or difficult to deal with will add to your stress. So choose your travel companions wisely and try to pick people who are easy-going and flexible.
Staying connected can help you reduce travel stress
When you're traveling, staying connected with your friends and family back home is nice, particularly if you're feeling anxious about being away from them. This can help reduce homesickness and make you feel more supported in case of an emergency.
Practicing relaxation techniques
All sorts of relaxation techniques can help reduce travel stress levels. For example, some people find that yoga or meditation helps, while others find that deep breathing exercises are more effective. Experiment until you find something that works for you.
Try vagus nerve stimulation to reduce travel stress
Speaking of relaxation techniques, it's also worth considering giving a vagus nerve stimulation device a try. With Xen by Neuvana headphones, you can stimulate the vagus nerve through your ear from wherever you are. With a stimulated and toned vagus nerve, you can become more resilient and ready to take on whatever comes your way—even travel stress!
Getting enough sleep
If you're well-rested, you'll be better equipped to deal with stressful situations that might come up while traveling. Make sure to get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your trip, and try to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night while you're on vacation.
Eating a healthy diet can also help reduce travel stress levels. When you're well-nourished, your body and mind will be better able to handle whatever comes your way. Of course, traveling often means trying new foods (and often eating a lot of them!). But that doesn't mean you can't make healthy choices (at least sometimes) regarding meals and snacks.
Reduce Travel Stress with Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Traveling can be a very stressful experience, but it doesn't have to be. By taking some simple steps to reduce travel stress, you can make the most of your vacation and come home feeling refreshed and relaxed. And don't forget—if you're looking for a little extra help, try vagus nerve stimulation with Xen by Neuvana headphones. With just a few minutes of daily use, you can reduce travel stress, improve your mood, and boost your resilience in the face of whatever comes your way.