Whether you travel a little or a lot, relaxing while you do it can be hard. While you may not be looking to create a “home away from home,” you at least want to feel easy, low-stress and not put out by it.
It’s not always a simple thing. Travel can take a lot out of you both in the getting there and the being there, so we thought we’d share a little inside scoop on what we’ve learned in our vast experience with traveling the globe for every reason from 24-hour turnarounds for meetings in other countries and languid “decompress” vacations, to weekends home from college to prove to our parents that, yes, we really are in school.
Being comfortable, at ease and setting yourself up for successfully enjoying the time you spend wherever you’re going is vital. We so often bypass the need to enjoy the getting there as a means to make the time being there that much better we wanted to give you some “keep in minds.”
Get up, walk around on flights/train rides/long drives
Sitting in a cramped space for long periods of time is hard on your body. Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that being on long flights of over four hours can lead to blood clots. Why? Because sitting for too long doesn’t allow good blood flow. You’re confined and to make sure you don’t suffer any sort of debilitating issue, stand up in the airplane or train — pull the car over and get out — and walk around. Hell, lean forward and touch the ground and reach up to the sky. Get your blood flowing. It’ll ensure that when you get to wherever you’re going you’re not feeling like a giant, filled to bursting water balloon or, worse, suffer a stroke (been known to happen, people).
Sleep masks/ear plugs
Just as we mentioned in our piece on music festivals, these little accouterments are invaluable for getting rest in unlikely places. Block out the ambient noise/sights so you can relax on your journey. Obviously, we don’t recommend this if you’re driving a car. Not a good idea at all. However, you’re on a train, plane, ship or boat, and taking the time to keep sound and light at bay so you can sleep will help you jump start your expedition feeling more refreshed.
Bring your own (travel-sized) accessories
Toothbrush, comb, something to keep cozy — all good things to encourage a good rest, relaxation and feeling of freshness. The “getting there” can take a long time or feel uncomfortable. Freshening up and making yourself comfortable goes a long way toward starting your adventure off feeling good.
Okay, now you’ve gotten to where you’re going, feeling fresh, relaxed, blood flowing, energized. Here’s your chance to make the most of your destination and not regret being there. We’ve got you covered.
Darken your room — your brain will thank you
We know tons of people can only rest in a strange place if they keep a light on somewhere at night, but it’s proven that a darkened bedroom leads to better sleeping. A big hurdle to traveling is how hard it is to truly get comfortable and make life easy on yourself while on the road. Once you’re there, you need to rejuvenate and how you do that is through rest — not the bottle of wine and burger you order in the bar after a long day in meetings (how you eat affects your sleep, remember?). Dark helps you do that. Consider how important that is to make being wherever you are that much more relaxed and even calming. Worth it. If you really must have a light on, consider bringing along a portable flameless candle. Something small that emits a comforting soothing glow rather than a bright, circadian rhythm curveball throwing glare.
Bring comfy things — music, diffuser, own blanket
Again, even if you’re staying at the coolest short-term rental in the world, it’s still not your home. To ensure you are having the best experience, bring something of your own from home to get comfortable and loosen up. It’s the same reasoning as with the traveling to part. It will help you to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing. And if the reason you are going from Point A to Point B is for work, this is even more important so that when you get back to your hotel, pied-a-terre, or wherever you’re staying you can decompress and slough away a long day with more ease.
Embrace the experience: Plan ahead
Take a look at what might be happening at your destination while you’re there. Know what the weather will be like, the kinds of events, the sites and sights, restaurants, and on and on and on… Just get some sort of game plan before you go wherever your travel takes you. It makes it so much more enjoyable and easygoing. And I’m not talking about going with a tour group or anything like that — although those can be really fun and low-stress because things are already planned for you. I’m talking about learning about the where so you can prepare and enjoy being there even more.
This also includes planning what you’re bringing on your trip. Set a schedule for yourself so that depending on how long you’ll be gone and where you’re going, you give yourself enough time for those shots you need, updates on your passport, check-in for your flight, packing your bags in leisure, etc. It’s also a great way to ensure you have room to bring souvenirs back. This is another way to start your trip off right and even end it calmly. A tip I learned a long time ago was to unpack completely when I arrive somewhere — hanging up clothes, putting shoes in closets, etc. makes it easy to see what I’ve brought, what I need to iron, gives me easier access. Then once I’ve worn something, I fold it up and put it into my suitcase. This has saved me more times than I can count. By doing this, you’re basically packed to go home when it’s time rather than running around and probably leaving something behind in your frenzy.
And this brings us to our bonus.
Bonus: Travel Light
Whether you’re in the “getting there” or the “being there” phase of your trip, travel light. I have a friend who once said as she loaded up two giant bags for a weekend trip with her boyfriend, “It takes a lot to look cute every day.” And, yes, I can see her point, but “a lot” comes in small, lightweight, travel-friendly size packages these days. Full-sized anything is not your friend when you’re traveling. There are so many incredibly cool travel-sized everything, there’s no reason to put yourself in a position to be lugging around anything that’ll weigh you down. Even with clothes. How you pack them will make your life on the road so much easier and enjoyable. We get pretty Marie Kondo on this. Roll your clothes, compartmentalize, go small instead of big. You can still have enough to look cute — or handsome — every day. You just don’t have to bring an entire luggage store to do it.
Wherever your travel is taking you, make the most of it even if it’s just for a few hours. Travel can be stressful, hard on the body, rough on sleep. Set yourself up to succeed rather than fail and discover the joy in both the journey and the destination.