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“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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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:
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.
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