The Skills You Need for a Stress-Free Vacation

See also: Holidays with Children

You know you need a break from the tension of your work and routine, so you decide a vacation can ease some of your stress. But once you start preparing for the getaway, your pre-travel to-dos begin to get to you.

You worry about what to pack, which activities to do, and how to leave your home in a safe condition.

The time leading up to vacations can cause you significant stress and, even when you've arrived at your destination, your obligations can keep you preoccupied. However, your time away doesn't have to build further concern. A refreshing experience is possible, and you can transform your vacation into a relaxing trip with the right skills.

Here are nine things to help you approach your vacation to make it stress-free.

1. Pack Enough Without Over-Packing

When you gather clothing, accessories and supplies for your trip, you have to strike a balance between being thorough and stuffing your suitcase full of too many options. Over-Packing can make you fret over the surprises you might encounter, but under-packing can leave you unprepared for unexpected scenarios.

Learn to cover all the necessities the weather requires while keeping a light load. Take clothes that can accommodate different weather conditions, cultures and events. Research the area a little to decide if you need a raincoat or extra swimsuits. You can pinpoint a packing sweet spot when you remain conscientious, but laid-back.

2. Organize Your Medical Necessities

If you're leaving the country for your vacation, you'll update your shots and start thinking about how to take along essential medication. But to reduce your stress while traveling, you can arrange your supplies in a helpful way. Consult your doctor or travel medical insurance company several weeks before your departure about what medication to bring along.

Obtain any physician's notes and documentation you need to explain medical conditions and considerations. Also, be ready to discuss your medical items when you go through airport security. Pack your medical products for easy access in a carry-on or personal bag, and ensure they're in the original containers.

3. Plan a Flexible Itinerary

When you plan your schedule down to the second, you might be limiting yourself and stimulating stress. If one activity on your vacation itinerary falls through, it throws off the rest of your plans, which leaves you with a mess. On the other hand, having no plan can cause just as much tension. You won't know the best places to sightsee or eat when you don't look into the area at all.

Instead, develop a loose itinerary for your stay. Find a couple of suggestions to fit in for each day, but don't set specific times for each item on your list. Ditch your strict schedule and come up with a few ideas to guide your adventures.

4. Secure Your Home

While you're far away from your house or apartment, you can begin to wonder if you've taken the right precautions to keep burglars away. Before you go out of town, follow a few active measures to protect your home for peace of mind. With a little upkeep and preparation for the exterior and interior, you can shield your place from break-ins.

Find and fix the vulnerabilities in your home, like spare keys under the front doormat or unlocked windows. Consider getting a house sitter or putting your lights on a timer to turn on and off automatically, so it appears someone is home.

5. Make Arrangements for Your Pets and Plants

Leaving your pets and plants can disrupt your calming time away because you can't help thinking about whether they're going to be OK without you there to look after them. Start searching for a trustworthy caregiver for your animals and plants, allowing yourself substantial time to find the right person.

Seek out a pet sitter with strong references and introduce them to your pet so you have a chance to see how they interact. Finding a person to look after your pets and plants can ease your nervousness.

6. Tie up Loose Ends at Work

As you step back from work to rest and visit a new place, unfinished business can tempt you to check in at the office. Loose ends can nag at your mind when you're trying to unwind at your destination. So, before you depart for your vacation, complete anything that could prevent you from taking a much-needed break.

Ask your co-workers any essential questions about current projects and finalize paperwork. Get your colleagues to check up on any projects or duties that might arise while you're gone, so no one is attempting to reach you. Make sure you separate yourself from your workplace to stave off stress.

7. Set Your Phone on Do-Not-Disturb Mode

Electronics can divert your attention from the beauty around you, especially when you're checking in on what's going on at home. Avoid staring at your phone when you could be soaking in the new place and the intriguing activities around you.

Turn your phone to do-not-disturb mode to eliminate distractions. You can still let calls through from the most important people in your life, but muting most notifications can help you cut down on interruptions. When you know crucial contacts can still reach you, you can sit back and savor your free time without worry.

8. Take Backups of Your Essentials

From misplaced baggage to a broken gadget, you might run into some trouble with your necessities. To lessen your chance of stress, you can pack extra essentials to replace lost, broken or stolen ones. Anticipating an unfortunate scenario can decrease your stress later, but don't dwell on potential dilemmas.

Stow backup medication, toiletries and documents. You won't have to worry about replacing these supplies if you misplace them, which can give you more confidence.

9. Embrace Local Culture

For carefree travel, don't hesitate to dive into your destination's culture. Developing the ability to interact with strangers in unfamiliar areas can considerably improve your stay.

Ask locals for recommendations — they can give you the inside scoop on the tastiest restaurants and the concealed attractions around the region. Request directions and help, too.

The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management

Understand and Manage Stress in Your Life

Learn more about the nature of stress and how you can effectively cope with stress at work, at home and in life generally. The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management eBook covers all you need to know to help you through those stressful times and become more resilient.

Relax and Enjoy Your Time Off

Let go of your worries before you leave your home by equipping yourself with these skills.

A stress-free vacation can benefit you at work and in your personal life but, if you let distractions hold you back, you'll harbor tension and miss the wonder of your destination. Seize this opportunity to take it easy and cast off stress.

About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a productivity writer and self-improvement blogger. You can find her work on The Huffington Post, MakeUseOf, Tiny Buddha and The Muse.