Holidays. Aren't they great? A time to unwind, relax, experience something new, to explore and to re-charge the batteries. Yet some parts of a holiday can be incredibly stressful: having to sort out travel, the airport, parking, connections, packing, currency, insurance not to mention organising your family.
How can you reduce the stress of these parts of your holiday so it goes as swimmingly as you want?
Slow Travel is part of the growing global Slow Movement, a cultural shift toward slowing down life's pace. Slow Travel takes its inspiration from nineteenth-century European travel writers, who reacted against the cult of speed even back then and encouraged a more leisurely travelling experience.
Slow Travel is a state of mind and does not necessarily mean taking longer breaks, it is about how you approach the time you have.
By applying the ethos of Slow Travel and taking a few simple, sensible steps, you can reduce the stress and hassle and have the holiday you truly deserve.
The most stressful part of a holiday is often getting to and from the resort, and lugging a huge suitcase full of things you will probably never need won't help.
The secret is to be ruthless and honest with what you take and only pack what you really need instead of what you 'might need' (be honest, how often do bring back a suitcase of clothes you never wore? But then take on your next holiday 'just in case...'). A pair of socks for every day of the holiday? Two pairs and some travel wash takes up a lots less space.
Put aside some money deliberately to buy things when you are there (suntan lotion, etc). It probably won't cost any more (it may even be cheaper) and saves on the packing.
If you have the spare cash, why not invest in an ebook reader (like a Kindle or a Sony Reader) to cut the weight of all those holiday reads?
You may be one of those people who enjoys trawling the internet for deals and organising your on holiday, booking your own flights, etc. But if that is not your thing, then delegating as much as your holiday planning, booking and preparation as you can will save you loads of stress and will usually not end up that much more expensive (sometimes, because of a travel agents ability to bulk buy and negotiate a discount, cheaper than a DIY holiday).
Using an agent to arrange your holiday is not only much less stressful, but comes with the additional assurance of cover if anything happens to the holiday, you should be insured and get your money back.
Depending on your level of budget you can use a high street Travel Agent or more exclusive services such as American Express Travel.
There is nothing more stressful than getting off a flight, tired, stiff and disorientated and then trying to negotiate your way to your hotel or resort.
If you have booked using a travel agent (see 'Delegating' above) you should have been able to arrange transfers. If not, contact your resort or hotel before you travel and see if they offer a pick up service (there is not many things more reassuring than getting off your flight and seeing a chauffeur holding a card with you name on it!), or get details of recommended taxis and a rough cost so you know you aren’t getting ripped off.
Arriving late? Make sure you pack some water and snacks, so you don't need to worry about trying to find them when you get there.
Buy a local guidebook (it will be something nice to read at the airport and get you in the mood for your holiday).
Don't leave getting local currency until the airport, get it as soon as you book the holiday, there are plenty of places around now that do currency at no commission, and whilst on the subject of money, let you credit card companies know you are going abroad to avoid any embarrassment of your cards being cancelled due to suspected fraud!
Airports are terribly uncomfortable places, and you often have to wait there for hours, even if you flight is not delayed. The secret is to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
The number one way of doing this is to wear the appropriate clothes. Travel in something comfortable (and smart – never underestimate the chance of getting an upgrade). Especially, make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes (easy to whip off on the plane.)
Other simple things can be as easy as packing a travel pillow in your carry-on luggage, and packing wet wipes and tissues to freshen up.
Really want to get away from the stress? Not flying business or first class? You can still gain access to airport lounges with services such as www.prioritypass.com who, for an annual fee, will give you access to a host of airport lounges around the world; a little oasis of calm in the hubbub of the airport.
Be prepared and pack light. How do you do that? The secret to this is to think of the little things.
The big things that you will try and prepare for will probably never happen and will be easier to deal with than you may think. All you need to deal with the big things, is to make sure you get good insurance, very good insurance; travel insurance is something you should never skimp on (even if, hopefully, you will never use it), then you have the peace of mind that if any of the big stuff happens you will have the support you need.
It will be the little things that will bug you: cutting your finger, getting a headache, that sort of thing. So pack the appropriate items to avoid such tiny annoyances (but there is really no need to back an ER sized first aid kit!).
That is what you are there for. As long as you have prepared for the small things, packed light and planned ahead as best you can, there is really nothing that can go wrong and worrying about it is defeating the object of going on holiday. Every time some nagging worry pops into your head, repeat the phrase: "so what?" It is simple and surprisingly relaxing!