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The Most Stressful Things about Travel and How to Avoid Them.

I wish I had never gone traveling.

Said no one ever!

I wish I had never gone traveling - said no one ever

However, travel can be pretty stressful sometimes and there can be various reasons. Sometimes it’s the pre-travel time, sometimes travel in general, and sometimes the post-travel period. There are many things I sometimes find stressful when traveling and I’m sure you faced one or another as well. But during my intensive travels I found ways to deal with all of them!

Multi City Trips

Ever planned a multi city trip? Especially in Europe it is easy to visit multiple cities in several days. One day in Barcelona, next day in Paris and the day afterwards in Amsterdam? No problem and in the mean time you want to see as much as possible right? Been there, done that, not doing it again… At the end of the day I wasn’t anywhere and didn’t see anything… physically though I visited all of the cities… but with my head I was always planning the next step of the itinerary.  During the years I learned that less is more and I will be more content with one great experience rather than with three short and stressful memories. I can always go and check out the other cities on my next trip! I’m a huge friend of slow travel and I think this is the only way to really experience and to get to know a place.

Delays and Cancelations

While most transportation methods in Europe are reliable, you can never be sure that they really will be on time. Always plan a little bit of extra time. And if it happens that you aren’t going anywhere on time, try to relax and make the best out of it… Flight delayed by a few hours? Isn’t there anything you can do in the mean time? Now you finally have the extra time you were looking for to get something done…

When I experience delays or cancelations, I simply find a task that fills that time… Right now I’m sitting at the airport in Copenhagen filling a two-hour gap by writing this blog post… you see, there is always something to do. Don’t waste your energy complaining about things you simply cannot change!

Food, Water, Bathrooms

You are probably familiar with this phenomenon. You’ve got a bargain flight to a destination and look forward to save a lot of money but before you have even boarded the flight you’ve already spent a fortune… A snack and a coffee at the airport, water after the security check in and sometimes you even have to pay to go to the toilet… isn’t that crazy that before you’ve boarded the plane you’ve already spent 20 €?

I used to do to this all the time, nowadays, I go back into town before I make my way to the airport and eat a proper meal and drink a lot before driving to the airport. When traveling, you should try to be hydrated anyways.

Getting Lost

Don’t you hate getting lost in unfamiliar places? Well I actually don’t because this is a great way to experience what a place is all about by finding hidden corners of a city I would normally not get to see with a normal guide. But to find my way out again, I always try to download a Google Maps map on my phone to use it when offline. You can easily do this too. Search for a place in Google Maps and zoom in such that all the area that you wish to save is visible on the screen. Now tap the search box and type “ok maps” without the quotes. Tap the Search button on the keyboard and all the visible area will download to your phone almost instantly. Try it now, you’ll love it!

Airport Queues

Isn’t it annoying when you have somebody slow in front of you at the security check at the airport? I don’t think anybody should ever stress himself when in a queue as stressing won’t make it any easier or faster. But I think we can all do our bit to make the process a little bit more efficient. When I travel, I often put all the things I have in my pockets into my jacket. This way I only have to take off the jacket and take out the laptop and I’m done. I also take off the belt while in the queue already, this often takes up a lot of time… Imagine everybody saving one or two minutes in the queue, it would be so much faster…

Transportation (taxi) in unfamiliar places

In many countries it is still common to charge tourist prices and local prices and it’s even more common to drive many detours in order to charge more. One of those cities is Bangkok for instance where they still try to rip you off if you are a farang (in thai foreigner). It’s very handy to have a version of google maps available offline and also to check the quickest direction before you step into the taxi in order to give directions. If you want to download an offline version of google maps to your phone check “Getting Lost” I explained how you can download it there… An alternative would be to have a map with you where you can show the driver where to take you and to try to follow the route you are driving over the map.

Loosing things (camera, laptop, documents)

I’m always afraid I will loose some of my things when traveling. My passport, camera, laptop and much more were stolen when I was drugged and hit by a car in 2008 in Sydney. Since then I always back everything up with Dropbox. I have a copy of my ID, passport etc. up there and also back up my most important files (blog posts, blog backup, photos, videos). I just purchased the Dropbox Business Plan with over 200 GB of space and it makes my life much easier and stress free!


Oh god, I travel quite a lot and at least once a month. Back in the days, I used to pack weeks before to see if everything fits, nowadays, I pack an hour before leaving the house. I found a system that works perfectly for me and I know which things I need for which purposes! If you have problems packing for a trip, pack once and then leave it for a while and focus on something else. Then go back to your bag and try to remove half of your things. Works every time!

Check out my packing list for inspiration!

Tense muscles and insomnia when traveling

Traveling can be painful sometimes, cramped in a metal tube at 40.000 feet with screaming kids around you or in a small bus in South East Asia. When I try to sleep, I usually tense my shoulders to relax my head. At least this is something I used to do, but I recently found a solution called Relax Ally! It’s magical… You fix a strap around your seat, fix your head with the ribbon and relax. The ribbon holds your head in position and you can finally relax your head and sleep… if it is too bright, the inventors even added a little extra fabric that falls over your eyes and if that isn’t enough they even patched little pockets with earplugs. Can it get better than this? Check out Relax Ally here!

What do you think is the most stressful thing about traveling and how do you avoid it?


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28 comments on “The Most Stressful Things about Travel and How to Avoid Them.

  1. Nic Hilditch-Short on

    Brilliant list. I think being prepared for those stresses will help you deal with or avoid them. But on being lost, this is very true, I used to be afraid of getting lost and I think most people are, but then I realised that this was when I really got under the skin of a place and finding your way afterwards is no biggy and usually results in speaking to locals and interacting a lot more.

  2. Diana Edelman (@DTravelsRound) on

    These are all great. Sadly, I am doing one of those multi-city trips in Europe in May/June. Most of the places I am going to are smaller, so I don’t feel the need to spend days wandering … but you are right — if you are traveling it is always better to spend more time in less places. Wish I could follow that on this trip!

  3. Hendrik on

    Awesome list, just one thing to add.
    When you travel as a couple..from time to time its hard, because you can´t act as flexible as you want to…


  4. Abby on

    It always kills me when I hear of someone trying to do big cities in one day (different if you’ve been there a million times and going in for a certain reason!) … I did the screengrab map trick and LIVED by it in Hong Kong last fall. Have you ever looked at Crashplan? It automatically backs up EVERYTHING to the cloud weekly for a few dollars a month. Then if you need it, you pay a fee. So worth it.

  5. Ross on

    Good tips. I think getting lost, although it can at times be a pain is definitely worth it as you experience so much. Some of my best experiences were ones where I hadn’t a clue where I was.

  6. Charlie on

    Good tips. I hate multi-stop trips where you go to lots of big cities for only a few days and see very little. In fact I had some friends who did this for a while 2 months and came back having experienced very little except long queues for the main attraction in a city and a lot of time on a bus or plane ~ terrible idea. Slow travel all the way 🙂

      • francaangloitalian on

        I agree with you both, I did it at some point and realized I am not a fan, I prefer slow travel than jumping from one place to the next after only a couple of days, it’s very tiring, stressful and as Charlie said you don’t see much.

  7. thebritishberliner on

    Great tips Sebastian! I hate the amount of time that I need at airports. The worse airport just has to be London, Heathrow. I so loathe it. It’s huge, packed and a bit of a cattle market in my opinion. The airport that I really like is Berlin, Tegel (although that will change in a couple of years. Sigh!). It’s small and pretty intimate. You check-in. 5 seconds away is passport control. 2 seconds away is security check and the plane is right in front on you. Lovely!

  8. Brandi J. Waits on

    Getting lost is the SINGLE best thing about traveling! It forces you out of your comfort zone and opens you up to the endless possibilities of digging into the culture, places, experiences and PEOPLE! I have met some of the world’s finest people whilst traveling alone in Southeast Asia. Dashing off to a remote parts of a place and meeting people who most often invite you to join them on an adventure they are planning to take! I have been fortunate enough not to lose any of my equipment whilst traveling. I did almost love my MAC due to electrical surges – alas, I was able to find a place to have it reformatted and saved (by the bell)! Travel is great because it shows you that ALL WILL BE OK! Keep traveling!

  9. Kel Tung on

    Great list! This list can also be used for preparedness of solo travel! I think one of the other stressful reason might be doing it alone because to many people around (especially among my friends), travelling alone is too stressful and scary!! But what they didn’t realised is that, the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. More so when you are not travelling with like-minded friends and that can be quite an anti-climax.

  10. Just Visiting on

    “…and drink a lot before driving to the airport…”

    Brilliantly worded haha. I know you meant good ol’ fashioned H2O, but this definitely gave me a quick “wait, what?” moment.

    Good advice here. Learning not to stress so much while traveling is massively important and can go a long way in the enjoyment of your trip.

  11. Laura/Urbaani viidakkoseikkailijatar on

    Good tips! I especially agree on the multi-city trips. Been there, done that- as well. I cannot say I have experienced those cities and actually got tired of sights after a few days already and by the time I got to Paris, I just wanted to head to a beach somewhere. Many times less is more. Often it’s easy to want to see it all at once but really, there can be so much more in just one place, if you go a bit deeper and spend more time at that place.

  12. Douglas on

    Not that I disagree I just do some things different …I travel S.E.Asia a good bit and since I have done some time immersed in a couple of countries I find that I can bounce from place to place and not lose impact of incredible experiences.How?I plan and plan before…I plan back up ideas…I stare at maps for weeks(which I love to do)I watch videos from other travelers I basically become as familiar with the surrounds and situations I may encounter as much as possible…which provides me with…1)a bit more comfort in what would be otherwise stressful situations.2)A mental map of what I can find around me(prevents getting lost)and makes it easier to to find my way back…well at least a bit more.I know you said you like getting lost …I don’t,I find it a waste of my time and that potentially ends up being a waste of money…who wants to show up somewhere looking for a room carrying all of their possessions while being hounded by touts in the heat of day?Or being lost as you said,while worrying about someone grabbing your camera?…

    Not that I don’t see what your saying…I just think I can get as much as I want from my travel style as a person who is doing a more freestyle slower more immersed trip

  13. Jeff Bartlett (@PhotoJBartlett) on

    The most stressful part of traveling, for me, has always been going home. I have often traveled by bicycle and each trip has a finite destination/return ticket attached to it. It’s terribly worrisome whenever I land behind schedule and the trip can quickly become a kilometer crunch rather than a slow journey through a strange land.

    For my next big cycle trip, I hope to make it open ended. No set date to return, no real destination, just head south and keep pedaling until i don’t want to anymore.

  14. Tracy on

    I am now in the stress of preparing my upcoming trip. Kinda panic but after I read your post somehow feeling better now. least now I know what I am experiencing now is normal. 😀

  15. Neilalan on

    Some good tips. For me, the best way to reduce travel stress is to have the correct attitude. When you think of life as an adventure, getting lost, missing connections, ending up where you didn’t expect to be are all part of the experience of travel. As other commenters said, getting out of your comfort zone and having an unforgettable experience are the bonuses of traveling; they are life affirming and enriching. And everything always works out in the end!