12 Tips For “Destressifying” Your Travel Plans

Yes, I know that “destressifying” isn’t a word.  I just made it up. (Hmm…maybe I should trademark it!) And by the way, does the guy in this picture not look like the most destressified person you’ve ever seen?  🙂

In any case, today I am featuring a guest post by Aaron Schulman, who gave us advice a few months ago on how to find low-cost (and free) music resources online.  Today he is offering advice on how to make your travel plans less stressful – which in turn should make them more enjoyable!  I encourage you to not only read this post, but consider bookmarking it or printing it out so you have it handy for your next vacation!

One of the great advantages of homeschooling is that you may experience more diversity in your choices for educational and family travel. One of the possible disadvantages is that you may not always be able to benefit from the savings and added safety of group travel, unless you can join a homeschool travel group or condominium travel club.

As the old saying goes, it’s always better to be safe than to be sorry, and when traveling or going on a vacation alone, or with your family, or even with a homeschool travel group this rule certainly applies. Many people don’t realize how important it is to plan ahead before traveling until they get stuck in a difficult “unexpected ” situation with no idea how to get out of it. To avoid something like this happening to you, here is a starter-list of what you could be doing before going on a journey.

1. Have a friend or a relative check up on your home regularly. An empty apartment or house is the perfect target for thieves and if they realize you are away they won’t think twice before trying to break in and get their hands on some free stuff.

2. Never use social media sites to advertise the fact that you are going away for a longer period of time because that’s like sending burglars an open invitation. The truth is that potentially one of the people that you have listed as friends on these sites are not necessarily “friends.” If you are in a small social network online and trust everyone associated as a “friend,” don’t put too much confidence in your privacy settings for your posts because technology can experience glitches, and some settings may be overlooked, allowing unwanted readers to be informed of your vacant home.

3. A nice and simple way to keep your home “apparently” secure while you are gone is to use a timer for your lights and set it to turn them on at preset intervals to make it look like the house is not empty. Some outside lights with motion sensors can also help you with added protection.

4. Before you go, ask a friend to pick up and keep your mail for you on a daily basis. You can also go directly to the postal office and ask them to hold anything that you receive.

5. If you are going on vacation, start making a list of everything that you need several weeks before leaving. Include all the essential stuff that you need on the road and everything that you need when you get to your destination. Keep the list close and every time you remember something, write it down.

6. Before you leave, make sure you remove everything that might spoil from your freezer to avoid the hassle of cleaning it when you get back. However, it’s not a bad idea to freeze some food for when you return because you might be tired and cooking will be the last thing you’ll want to do. Additionally, you can save a little money and use up some items in your fridge by having leftovers the last few nights before you leave for vacation.

7. Leave a list with all the places that you will be visiting and all the hotels that you will be staying at so that your relatives can reach you in case of an emergency. Make sure you also leave the respective phone numbers and any other necessary information. You may even want to purchase an inexpensive pre-paid cellular phone as a backup. Many of these sell for $20 and come with minutes already packaged.

8. Check the weather forecast and prepare ahead. If sudden weather changes are to be expected you should pack some extra clothes and appropriate footwear. Also get additional provisions to be used in the eventuality of delays.

9. Have copies of all your important documents on you so that you are able to use them in case of an emergency. It is best to take care of all the travel arrangements several weeks before the departure date so that you are able to modify aspects with which you are not satisfied.

10. If you are taking any necessary medications, make sure you have enough of them before leaving. You certainly want to avoid running out of them while you are still on vacation. You can even pack a little extra just in case of delays on your return date.

11. Make sure you have the medical background or health information of the entire group (if necessary). If anyone coming with you suffers from a medical condition or has a medication allergy, you must be able to provide this information to the emergency care provider if and when needed.

12. Last but definitely not least, pack a simple first aid kit because it can save lives. You never know what can happen and you might even use it to help others that are not in your group.

If you follow these simple instructions and plan ahead accordingly, you should be able to successfully handle most situations that you might encounter on your journey. You can also avoid a lot of nuisances that are usually caused by poor, last minute decisions. Although this is not an exhaustive list for preparation, you can easily use this to get started and add any additional custom items through personal research or experience.

P.S. Anne here…I wanted to add that I always do #5 above.  It’s so easy to forget to include small, but necessary, items when you’re packing for a family.  And who wants to have to go shopping, particularly at tourist destinations where the price for everything is jacked-up?  Items that are easy to forget are things like clothing accessories (such as belts or jewelry) or nightwear (such as pj’s, bathrobes, slippers, etc.)  I know that these days there’s all kinds of advice about how to travel “light.”  Frankly, traveling with a family, I’d rather travel heavy…what I mean is I’d rather everyone have an extra outfit or two rather than to find out that we’ve been offered an unexpected opportunity to attend a special event, but no one has a decent thing to wear.  And it’s especially important if you’re traveling with infants or toddlers to bring along extra outfits! (You know what I mean!)

One last tip: if you are going to be driving your own vehicle for your trip, get it into your mechanic ahead of time.  Have them change the oil (if needed) and do a “trip check.”  This should include checking all the belts and hoses, fluids, brakes and tires, etc.  Not only will it save you a breakdown on the road (been there, done that, not fun) but they might even find something that could save you a more expensive repair.

So now, hit the road and make some memories!

About the author: Aaron Schulman is a web developer and homeschool parent who enjoys cooking, learning, traveling with his family and writing reviews on various topics, like the Baby Taylor travel guitar. One recent editorial he wrote covers how economic changes in the travel industry have led to great travel savings through concepts such as timeshare alternatives. You can read more about him at his site, Aimadvantage.com.

  • Aaron

    Hi Anne,
    We recently went on 2 trips, the most recent to Greenville, SC on a semi-business / vacation.  The mini-van was over-loaded, but we definitely packed heavy.  Although I “over-prepared” and checked the car thoroughly, we overlooked the brakes and then the headlight switch failed making it impossible to drive at night.  Needless to say, when we got back, we did some homework and upgraded to a newer mini-van with more storage space and a better warranty.  This last trip showed me that as much as you can possible prepare, things can and often do interrupt the vacation so doing our best to prepare can knock out most of the potential mishaps, but it is also good to be able to laugh a little when things do get disrupted.  Fortunately, we had a little extra in the budget to fix the brakes and the lights and returned safely. . . and although I had to do the repairs myself 9 hours from home, our newer van has a better warranty so perhaps the next time I can just drive it in to a dealership if something happens.

    • annegalivan

      I’m glad you made it back safely!  Which is, of course, the most important thing.

      I have more stories than I can count of trips my husband and I took early in our marriage that are “funny” now but weren’t quite so amusing at the time!  But those experiences taught us a lot and we are much more prepared when we travel now.

      Hopefully the advice in this post will help families have travels that are more fun than “funny!”