Vacations are supposed to be a way to unwind and relax. But for many Americans, they are a source of stress. More than one-third of vacationers recently surveyed by Wyndham Vacation Rentals admitted that they’d delayed or canceled a trip before due to the pressure of planning it.
“We have such busy lives already,” said Oneika Raymond, travel expert and host of Travel Channel’s digital series “Big City, Little Budget” and “One Bag and You’re Out.” “We have families to take care of. We have jobs. It can be very difficult when we add this extra element.”
But planning a vacation doesn’t have to be so problematic. Raymond, who has visited more than 100 countries, said there are plenty of ways people can reduce the strain of vacation planning and enjoy trips without breaking the bank.
1. Make Trip Planning a Team Effort
The Wyndham survey found that one of the biggest sources of travel planning stress for vacationers is trying to keep everyone happy and entertained. If you’re traveling with friends or family, Raymond said you can avoid the stress by getting everyone in the group involved in the planning.
“One of the best things to do is survey the group to find out where common interests lie,” Raymond said. “That will end up alleviating a lot of stress.” By involving everyone, you won’t have to guess what will make everyone happy or worry about whether choices you’ve made will please them.
Raymond also recommended delegating some of the planning responsibilities to others in your group. You’ll have less on your plate, and the others in your group will feel more involved.
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2. Learn to Pack Light
Another source of travel planning stress is packing, according to the Wyndham survey. In fact, half of those surveyed said they would give up social media for a week or alcohol for a month in exchange for not having to pack.
A big reason packing creates anxiety for people is because they pack too much, Raymond said. “Often times when we have too many choices, we end up getting stressed out,” she said. The solution is to pack no more than one week’s worth of clothing — even if you’re traveling for more than a week.
Raymond, who shares packing tips on “One Bag and You’re Out,” said you should stick to a particular color scheme so you can mix and match clothes to get more wear out of less. If you’re taking a longer trip, take advantage of laundromats to wash your clothes. In some overseas locales, such as Southeast Asia, there are laundromats that will wash your clothes for you, Raymond said.
The added benefit of packing light is that you don’t have the stress of lugging around a lot of luggage and waiting at the baggage carousel after flights if you have only a carry-on.
3. Choose a Deal, Not a Destination
Planning and packing can seem like a hassle, but the biggest source of travel stress for vacationers as surveyed by Wyndham is spending too much money. Raymond said that one of the ways she has traveled to more than 100 countries is because she doesn’t discriminate based on location. When she plans a trip, she decides where she is going based on price.
4. Sign Up for Fare Alerts
An easy travel tip to save money on flights is to sign up for airfare alerts. Raymond recommends signing up with Airfarewatchdog and Google Flights to get notifications when the price drops on flights you want to take.
You also can look for cheap flights on SecretFlying, which posts rock-bottom fares. And you can sign up to get alerts when there are flight deals from the airport nearest you. “You can get really cheap airfares if you keep your eyes open,” Raymond said.
5. Stay for Less at a Vacation Rental
“When you’re on the ground, think about staying in a rental apartment,” Raymond said. Vacation rentals — which you can book through sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway — usually offer a better value than hotels. You can get more space with an apartment or home and split the cost with travel companions. Vacation rentals also have kitchens, so you can save money by cooking meals rather than eating out.
6. Find Free Activities
Take the time to research what sort of free activities are available at the destination you’re visiting. Not only will this help you save money, but it will also reduce stress by helping you avoid breaking your budget, Raymond said.
The easiest way to do this is with an internet search for “what are free things to do in (name of city).” Raymond also recommended plugging into online travel communities of people who share tips about places they have visited. You can search for travel groups on Facebook to find ones that align with your travel interests. “Research is really key, and being open to plugging into different platforms to get the information you need,” Raymond said.
Click through to discover 16 travel essentials to help you reduce stress and actually enjoy your vacation.