On your next vacation, leave the stress at home
I travel a lot. I’ve finetuned my process so that I feel as comfortable on the road as I do at home.
But it wasn’t always this way. Like most people, I used to take once-a-year vacations, with a massive suitcase and a rigid itinerary, hopping from hotel to hotel stressed about train connections and tour reservations.
It was all unnecessary stress. So while working as a digital nomad, I’ve figured out a few ways to minimize that stress.
Pack less: I’ve spent
41⁄2 months away from home with a backpack barely larger than a carryon suitcase. I’ve met men and women who pack far less (most of my luggage bulk is work related). If you’re gone for more than a week, budget a few hours to do laundry, or a few dollars to pay for a laundry service.
Plan less: This seems counterintuitive, but if you plan less, you’ll be less stressed. Sure, having a per-second itinerary may seem like a gift for your future vacation self, but you’re going to feel rushed and anxious about making your next stop.
Sure, keep a list of things you want to do, but allow for lots of flexibility. You’re not going to see everything, so enjoy what you can and don’t rush. Less planning allows you to stay longer in spots you like, and leave early from places you don’t.
Slow down: This is a hard one. But cramming 15 cities into 14 days is going to make you miserable. I try to spend at least three days in each place. That gives you enough time to get the feel and decide if you want to stay, or go somewhere else. Everyone has their own best pace, but if you change accommodations every other day, you’re going to be exhausted.
Keep your phone working: Turn off your work email and notifications, but keep your internet access. Google Maps, Google Translate, travel booking sites, plus messenger apps to keep in touch with people at home will be at your fingertips. If you have Sprint, T-mobile, or Google Fi, your phone will probably work outside the U.S. much as it does at home. AT&T and Verizon may not, and can be expensive to use outside the U.S. For tips to make the transition seamless, check out the guide to using your phone overseas at Wirecutter.
Install the right apps: Google Maps and Translate are obvious ones.
Both also largely work offline, if you download certain content ahead of time. Booking apps like Booking, Orbitz, Hostelworld and so on are handy. One very useful service is Rome2rio, which can help you get virtually anywhere, by bus ferry, train or airplane.