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Preparation: Secret to Stress Free Travel

  • May 24, 2018
  • By 50 Shades
  • 20 Comments
Preparation: Secret to Stress Free Travel

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.

I’m sure you remember your teacher uttering those words from way back. Maybe before your dreaded exams. At least I know I do. Well, while old Mr Stevens might’ve had a weird moustache, and looked at the girls in a bit of a creepy fashion, I certainly can’t fault the wisdom of his words.

Being prepared truly is the secret to a stress free existence. This is especially true when it comes to travel.

Below I’m going to give my top five ways to prepare for your next trip.

1. Buffer Days

How many times have you returned from a holiday needing a holiday? More than once I’ll guess. Go figure!

I swear by the destressifying (yes, it’s a word) power of buffer days. That is having a day of doing nothing before you set off, and having a day or couple of days of doing absolutely nothing when you return.

Having this breathing room between returning from a trip and going back to work does wonders. It means the last few days of what should be a relaxing time away aren’t taken up worrying about all the things you need to do when you get home.

I’m so convinced that buffer days improve the entire holiday experience, that if I have a week to play with, I would rather spend four great days in Paris than a full seven. I know that’s three less days quaffing amazing wine but it also means I am more rested and less stressed.

What to do on your buffer days? Whatever you want. Sit in the park, watch a film or simply catch up on your sleep. We could all do with getting a lot more shuteye like the guys at the Sleep Advisor always say.

2. Do a little light reading

Travel is substantially more rewarded and less stressful if you know a little bit about your destination before you arrive.

A favourite technique of mine is to find fiction novels set in my intended destination. Something with a killer storyline and interesting characters. I’ve found travel fiction has a power to hook me in and introduce me to the street names, foods and sights in a much more natural and descriptive way than say a guide book would.

Reading Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Shadow of the Wind will make you look at the real Barcelona in a new light, as will picking up Robert Wilson’s Small Death in Lisbon before heading to Portugal. Moses Isegawa’s Abyssinian Chronicles will give you a better grasp of Ugandan history than any academic text, plus it will make you cry laughing.

Meanwhile if you want to get to know the back streets of Edinburgh, before you make a pilgrimage to Scotland’s ancient capital, then there’s nothing better than getting stuck into Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series.

Having an insight into the destination will remove that stress of not knowing where to go or what to see!

3. Make smart use of your smartphones

Smartphones have changed the way people travel. Gone are the days where you simply arrived in town and wandered around aimlessly looking lost until a friendly local took pity on you.

Today’s traveller has all the information they need at the swipe of their finger. For both good and bad. While the omnipresence of information has definitely taken some of the spontaneity out of travel it also means you’ve no excuse for missing sights ever again.

There are countless travel apps to take the stress out of everything from ordering a taxi to choosing a restaurant. While I try not to get too attached to these, I do find that using apps like Google Maps or Maps.me make it possible for me make good use of pre trip research by pinning points of interest. That way when I’ve finished my afternoon coffee all I need to do is pop open my smartphone and see what sight is within walking distance. Simples!

4. Check the weather, check again

Nothing is worse than arriving at your destination in a thick coat and scarf only to find out it’s been a heatwave for the last three days. Doh!

But the weather forecast said rainy you cry! Well, checking the weather forecast in your destination before you leave is a no-brainer but seeing a little icon of a sun or cloud isn’t the same as genuinely knowing what is going on.

My advice, take to social media, follow some individuals from your intended destination and check out Instagram for up to the moment photos. This way you can actually see what the weather is genuinely like.

And don’t worry too much. If you get to town and you don’t have the clothes you need, just go shopping. If you prepare for this eventuality and set aside a little bit of your holiday budget for ‘miscellaneous’ expenses like this, then having to splash out on a pair of shorts isn’t going to cause you too much stress is it?

5. Plan your photography

A bit of a photography fan are you? I know I am. Well if you want your holiday snaps to look anything like your favourite Instagrammers you’re damn sure going to have to do a little bit of research in advance. Any snapper worth their salt knows the hours of sunrise and sunset are where the light is going to be best, if your time in town is limited you’re going to want to know where to be and when.

Get on Flickr, 500px, Instagram, do your research, many shots will be geotagged which is great. If so add them to your map. If not, just ask. Photographers are a friendly lot, most of them will be happy to share their knowledge. If they’re a local why not go one step further and ask them if they would be happy to go for a photowalk with you. Bam! Local friend.

Well, there you have it my friend, five ways to take the stressful sting out of the tail of your next trip. Here’s wishing you happy, stress free travels! Bon voyage!

This post was a sponsored guest post written by Sarah Cummings from The Sleep Advisor.

This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset.

The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

Lyndall from Seize the Day Project
Deb from DebbishDotCom
Min from Write of the Middle.
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
and of course me, Kathy from 50 Shades of Age


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By 50 Shades, May 24, 2018 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 20

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

20 Comments
  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    May 24, 2018

    Hi Kathy I’ve learned some new things from you thank you! Firstly about the best time of day to take photographs plus your reminder about buffer days. I know in the past we have tried to fit too much in but find now we need rest days here and there during the trip to really enjoy ourselves and not get too tired. We are taking a 14 day cruise around Japan in October and there are a few days at sea which should be nice and relaxing in addition to the sightseeing days. Another useful and helpful post Kathy.

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      We have discovered that buffer days are extremely important and do help with jet lag and travel exhaustion. Yes days at sea on a cruise are a great way to get much needed rest in between being in port and sightseeing. #TeamLovinLife

  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    May 24, 2018

    Fantastic tips Kathy! I especially agree with the ‘Buffer Days’! I think there should be some buffer days scattered throughout a holiday too. I remember in 2015 we holidayed in Tasmania. We hired a car and drove from Hobart all around Tasmania and back to Hobart again. I spent ages planned and packed a lot into each day. I was a novice of course and packed way too much in. Also didn’t account for the windy mountainous roads which made driving slower than I had anticipated. We only ever stayed one night in any one place, apart from once or twice where I think we had two nights in a couple of places. Each day was action packed. We had a fabulous time but by the time I got home I was absolutely exhausted and ended up sick. Lesson learned! #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      We did the same Min in 2015 and felt the pressure of setting a frenetic pace circumnavigating Tassie. Buffer days are definitely necessary when travelling, particularly for overseas travel when you’re suffering from jetlag.

  • Jo Tracey
    May 24, 2018

    I’m an absolute shocker. Before our recent trip to France I worked until late the night before & then had to get up on the day we left & wash & pack. I was SO strung out before we even left for the airport. Then I went back to work the morning after we got home – after not having slept for a couple of days. Glutton for punishment am I! #teamlovinlife

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      Yes I can identify with this. It’s always an extremely busy and stressful time before and after any holiday. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s worth it! But then again YES it most certainly is!!

  • Jodie
    May 24, 2018

    These are such great ideas, Kathy!! The buffer days especially!!
    I am a huge planner, yet I’ve been trying to be more laissez-faire lately!! But when traveling, it’s better to be a boy scout as my hubby always says!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      Oh yes, preparation is everything. I usually plan an itinerary right down to every minute detail. The planning and researching part is always so exciting! #TeamLovinLife

  • Natalie
    May 24, 2018

    All good tips and timely for my trip.

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      Hi Natalie, I’m so glad you got something out of this very informative post. #TeamLovinLife

  • Christine
    May 24, 2018

    Great tips. I think a buffer day is great. I’m all go go go on holidays – I’ve discovered I’m not very good at sitting around a pool all day. And I love the idea of pre-planning photo opps and sites.

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      I think that is a common mistake with travellers. We all try to cram as much into the holiday as we can, then we suffer from burn out. I must admit I like a good mix of doing lots of sightseeing with days in between for relaxing. #TeamLovinLife

  • Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    May 24, 2018

    Geat tips Kathy – I especially like the reminder to have a buffer day or two. A holiday (especially overseas) is not really a restful time – with jetlag thrown into the mix, you can come home exhausted. To have a few days up your sleeve before returning to work etc is such a great respite.

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      I agree entirely Leanne. We have learnt from previous experience not to try to cram too much into a holiday. Buffer days are important. #TeamLovinLife

  • Denyse Whelan
    May 24, 2018

    Lovely post Kathy and told with the voice of experience! I have had one OS trip and it was solo. I am a planner by nature and for months enjoyed all that entailed. This was back in 2005 so technology and mobile phones were around but nothing like now. I planned my wardrobe – all casual – for warm and cool so it was layers based. I had an take-on bag with spare of everything and more. I even practised the drive from our house to Mascot and was glad to have done so. I was tired at my initial destination and fought the notion of rest. I did get sensible the next day and factor it in. Hard though when you know you are unlikely to return. I had no qualms about solo travel as I am confident and never felt unsafe. I think it’s my “teacher look”.

    • Kathy
      May 25, 2018

      I think planning is the best way to go. I always do a lot of research prior to travelling overseas to make it as seamless as possible. You were very adventurous travelling solo. #TeamLovinLife

  • Deborah
    May 25, 2018

    Ahhhh… perfect timing as I’m yet to book my August / September England and Italy holiday. I finally put in a leave request so that’s done at least.

    The buffer days is a biggie for me and my thinking will be balancing sightseeing stuff (ie. HAVING to do things) with days of not planning anything – sitting around cafes and the like.

    But I really must book!

    • Kathy
      May 25, 2018

      You lucky girl. That sounds like a wonderful holiday. As you know I did Italy last year and absolutely loved the country. Buffer days are mandatory, otherwise you burn out very quickly.

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    May 31, 2018

    You know what, these tips are none that I would have thought of! Yet they fit. We were “travel tips” twins this week :)

    • Kathy
      May 31, 2018

      Oh really? These weren’t my travel tips, but I did think they were very fitting. I liked the idea of having a recovery day.

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