Friday, April 15, 2011

How not to get overwhelmed on vacation

I’ve put together a few tips on how not to get overwhelmed on vacation. It never fails to amaze me how many people come back from a vacation who still need a break. Getaways can be fun by they can also cause stress. Planning an itinerary and following one can be two different things.

Itinerary
Maps are one of my favorite trip planning tools. Plotting travel stops on a map helps keep my on-road hours realistic, so I'm less likely to get overwhelmed on the road trip. I still build in flexibility for the days that interesting billboards lead us off the planned route. Having the extra time built into the itinerary, along with a general outline, goes a long way to reducing my vacation stress.

Alaska Wilderness, yes.
Cell phone tower, no.
Road trip delays
Speaking of plans, one of the things you can do to not get overwhelmed on a vacation is to plan for delays. They are inevitable. No matter how much you wish otherwise at some point you will run into road trip construction, heavy traffic or a bad accident.

A word on GPS
If you use a GPS bring a map. It may sound like overkill but it works. I remember seeing a big flashing sign in Pigeon Forge once that read “Your GPS is wrong”. The sign tried to direct travelers along another route. Having a map in the car definitely helped me not to get overwhelmed that time.

Phone back-up plan.
Not being able to keep in touch is always a source of frustration for me. Cell phone service hasn’t been available in all the places that I’ve traveled. For example, when my daughter and I drove to Alaska in 2009 we found more places with free wireless internet than we had cell phone coverage. For those times, knowing that I could use Skype or a prepaid phone card kept me from feeling overwhelmed.

Take time for yourself
It sounds like a no-brainer but it’s not. Keeping an eye on the kids at the beach, making a tee time, being sure the car is packed and repacked can often push your needs to the bottom of the list. Taking time for yourself on vacation is one of the best tips for how not to get overwhelmed on a vacation.