How to Practice the Zen of Effortless Travel

Zen of Travel

Does even the thought of travel stress you out?

Do you dread the packing, preparing, and then waiting at the airport?

Travel doesn’t have to be that way.

You don’t need to be so stressed out with the journey that you can’t enjoy your destination.

Here are a few tips to make your travel just a bit easier…

The Stress of Travel

When traveling for business or pleasure, the last thing you want to do is spend all your time fretting the details.

Yet, for most people, a trip is a grand production.

A friend said to me recently:

The only thing I hate more than traveling is …getting ready to travel.

Often, getting ready for a trip seems to take much more effort than the trip itself.

How to Make Your Travel Effortless

Much of travel stress is self-inflicted.

Lack of preparation leads to forgotten items.

Lack of planning leads to last minute rush and stress.

How do you minimize the stress and life friction involved with traveling?

Here are 10 Tips to Help Your Travel Be Effortless:

  1. Pack the Night Before – You don’t want the added stress of packing the day of your trip. Inevitably, something is missing or still “in the laundry.” Packing the night before gets your trip off on the right foot.
  2. Use a Packlist – To make your packing effortless, use a packlist. Using a packlist allows you to pack in a fraction of the time, and gives you the peace of mind that you have everything before you leave the house. (I have used the same packlist for over 15 years.)
  3. Have a Place For Your Stuff – When you are on the road, you don’t want to lose items. Receipts, keys, sunglasses, and more seem to get misplaced quickly. Keep control by having a designated place for each of them. For example, I put my parking ticket in the exact same spot in my wallet every time. I also have specific places for my keys, receipts, and even my car at the airport lot.
  4. Use Social Media to Get Help – When you are traveling, it can be a hassle to get on the phone for travel assistance. A great time-saving tip is to use social media channels to get help. Especially when getting airline assistance, Twitter can be the simplest and most effective means of getting help. Instead of spending 20 minutes on the phone, with a single tweet I can often get my seat changed or get a flight update. Your hotel may not be as social media savvy as the airlines, but they are getting there.
  5. Have Stuff to Do on the Plane – Even if you think you are going to rest on the plane, always have materials with you. It may just be the reading items you want to catch up on. Or it could be your latest work project. You never know when a 1 hour flight might turn into a 4 hour ordeal. Be prepared to do more than read the SkyMall magazine.
  6. Always Charge Your Gadgets – This one seems like a no-brainer, but many people get to the airport only to realize they have not charged their phone or laptop. (I recently had a co-worker ask me if they could borrow my laptop on a flight because theirs was dead. Um, no….)
  7. Don’t Go Out to Dinner – When you are on the road (especially for business), the last thing you need to do once you get to your destination is spend even more time finding dinner. Get some rest and reclaim some time by eating in. Room service may cost a little more, but it will save you an hour or more of your evening time.
  8. Exercise on the RoadAlways pack your exercise gear. That is step #1 in working out on the road. Too often you probably say, “It’s only a few days” or “I don’t have room in my suitcase.” Don’t let these excuses stop you from exercising while traveling.
  9. Have Your Travel Details Handy – You never know when something is going to go sideways during a trip. You don’t need to be scrambling to find your travel info. I use TripIt to keep all my itinerary info in one place on my iPhone.
  10. Always Be Early – Nothing derails a trip quicker than a missed flight or connection. Always allow buffer time in your travel schedule. You may think that is takes “extra time” to leave early, but it ends up saving much stress and heartache. Leaving even 20 minutes early can mean the difference between pulling your hair out in the security line and enjoying a quick read at the gate.

The Zen of Effortless Travel

Traveling doesn’t have to be stressful.

It doesn’t have to be disorganized.

In fact, with a little preparation and planning it can be quite effortless.

Get your routine down, and soon you will be enjoying the trip as much as the destination.

Question: What are your best travel tips? Share yours in the comments below.

11 thoughts on “How to Practice the Zen of Effortless Travel

  1. Much the same can be said about life in general. Particularly the point about being early. Being late & in a rush is always a recipe for stress. It’s all, IMO, simple preparedness – 5P’s (7P’s if you spent a career in the military).

  2. Very timely post, as I get ready for my trip back to my home country, Italy! I’ll particularly keep in mind no. 2,5 and 6.

  3. Craig,
    As a time management speaker (thus, frequent traveler), like yourself, my add to the list is:
    1. Keep separate shaving/bathroom kits for each piece of luggage. Most of the content in a shaving kit is consumable – deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. – so the investment is worth it since you’ll be using the same amount of, say, toothpaste, regardless of how many tubes you buy. Having multiple kits means you don’t forget to transfer things between home and luggage or between pieces of luggage.
    2. On Eating Out. I have a different philosophy – a stop and smell the roses one. Travel is hard enough, so a nice meal away from the fancy jail cell call the hotel room can be pleasant. I use Yelp to find great restaurants near my lodging and generally enjoy that evening time.

  4. Making travel “effortless” is definitely helpful for those who stress out over travel. You can’t always control flight delays, jet lag, bad food, or lost baggage, but time management tips can offer a bit of control over all our travels. Transportation (the “getting there”) part of travel is a necessary evil, but like you say if you prepare properly the result will be more zen-like.

    I agree with Craig in his disagreement with your #7 (“Don’t go out to dinner”). If someone has been traveling all day and is weary, decompressing over a good meal out can help end the day on a positive note. The typical hotel room is not the most inspiring of places to eat a room service or delivery meal. At least if you go out near the hotel (Yelp or TripAdvisor searches take a minute or two), you may be rewarded with a memorable experience or at least get to see how the local people enjoy dinner.

    -Scott, VacationCounts – Take More Vacation Time Off

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