Confession: I am a high-anxiety person and few things make me more anxious than travel. It was much worse when I was a kid, but to this day, going on an overnight trip anywhere sends my anxiety into overdrive. It’s especially bad if there is a long travel time involved, and don’t even get me started on airplanes.
Despite all of this, I don’t let my anxiety stop me from taking weekend trips now and then. It’s good to see family and friends, after all, and seeing new things in new places can be a lot of fun. It’s the travel part that is particularly taxing to me, so I make sure that I plan things out as best I can to avoid unnecessary stress.
The following are 13 things I always do before a weekend trip. I hope you find that doing them makes your trip go more smoothly, as well!
Practice deep breathing
When anxiety rears its ugly head, deep breathing and meditation are essential. Even if you’re not anxious like me, breathing deeply when planning a trip (or any event, really) can help you to clear your head, slow your mind and make better, more calculated decisions. Meditating before you go to sleep also helps lots. When I’m anticipating a trip, it’s hard for me to fall asleep and meditating does worlds of good.
One thing that makes me feel better when I’m planning anything is to make organized lists. I make sure to write down everything I’ll need, even things that seem unforgettably obvious. I make a list of everything to pack, everything that needs to be done before the trip (like getting the house in order) and any other errands that need to be done. Not only does this keep me organized, I also find it extremely satisfying to cross things off the list!
Print all maps the week before
Don’t wait until the morning of your trip to print maps and directions. If you do so, the printer may run out of ink, your internet service might be down or the paper might jam. To avoid something going wrong at the last minute, make sure all maps are printed the week before your trip. Take the maps right out to your car, so that they’ll be right where you need them to be.
If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, renting a car or checking out a new restaurant, take some time to read reviews before you go — preferably a week or two ahead of time. Online reviews are extremely helpful; they can reveal problems with a certain establishment which otherwise may not be apparent. If reviews are terrible, consider re-booking with someone else.
Backpacks for everyone!
Along with the suitcases you are bringing, make sure you have backpacks for the stuff you want on hand at all times. My husband and I usually share a backpack, and I pack a separate one for our little guy. We often carry a laptop, phone chargers, important toiletries and other things we’ll need. In my son’s, he has coloring books, games, a few toys, snacks and other things to entertain him during travel.
Charge all charge-ables
Speaking of phone chargers, make sure you charge anything that needs to be charged the night before your trip. A dead cell phone battery during a delay or emergency is never a good thing. When you’re done charging, throw the chargers in your backpack!
Plan for any type of weather
Check the forecast and plan accordingly, but know that weather predictions are often wrong. Have something in case of rain, shine and a storm. Sweaters are essential.
Choose comfortable clothes
When you’re packing, you may be tempted to dress up and bring elaborate clothing. Fight this urge. For me, being away from home in an unfamiliar place is worse if I am not feeling comfortable, so I always like to bring comfy clothes. It’s also important to dress comfortably during travel, or you’ll have a miserable time.
Stock up on healthy snacks
Car (or plane, or bus) snacks are important. I make double-sure that my son’s backpack is always stocked with some portable snacks. Dried fruit and nuts make perfect snack packs, for just one example.
Bring plenty of water
I get dehydrated easily, so I do not like to go anywhere without water. Even if I’m drinking coffee in the car, I still get thirsty and need to sip water in between coffee gulps. Bring a few water bottles, even if you have to store them around your feet because your backpack is full.
Make sure all is well at the house
Put a hold on your mail, have someone come and take care of your pets, turn down the thermostat (or up, depending on the season), make sure your house is clean for your return, take out the garbage, all that important stuff. It helps to make a list!
Make sure there’s music
I don’t like traveling anywhere without music. Make sure there’s plenty to last for the duration of your trip. Bring more than you think you’ll need. Bring music for every mood and occasion. This makes travel less stressful for me.
A gift for the host
If you are staying with friends or family, don’t arrive empty handed. Even a card, a small trinket, a bag of coffee or a bottle of wine is a great gesture that won’t go unappreciated.
Is there anything that you do before preparing for a weekend trip? Please share your pointers!
— Tanya Mead