Travel | Travel Tips

How to Keep Living in the Moment When Travel Gets Stressful

International travel provides an opportunity for unforgettable fun and excitement. A journey to an unfamiliar city or exotic landscape can generate beautiful memories that last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, long-distance travel also presents many opportunities for things to go wrong. Between airport security, airline cancellations, customs delays, jet lag, and lost luggage, travelers may find themselves stressed to the max before they even get to their destination.

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woman floating in the ocean looking up

Combined with the awkward mixups that happen when navigating the language and etiquette of an unfamiliar place, it goes without saying that travel-related stress can be hard to avoid.

While the stress of travel can leave us feeling disoriented, distracted, and homesick, it’s imperative that you do our best to continue living in the moment. You didn’t travel thousands of miles to spend the entire trip sulking over spilled milk and looking forward to coming back home. It’s time to seize the day, no matter how bad things seem to get.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at 6 ways to keep living in the moment when travel gets stressful:

Practice mindfulness

The best way to manage stress is to practice mindfulness. While it might sound vague, mindfulness boils down to one’s ability to recognize the triggers of stress, acknowledge their emotional response, and put it all into proper perspective.

woman leaning against a grey wall having a quiet moment

For instance, common grounding techniques for anxiety include taking deep breaths, performing basic stretches, and practicing mindfulness exercises. By making a point to practice mindfulness techniques for stress and anxiety, you keep bad news and other unwelcome events from ruining your international travel experience.

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Go Exploring

You haven’t slept in over 24 hours, you’ve spent half the day getting through customs and baggage claim, and all you want to do is take a shower. Unfortunately, the front desk informs you that your hotel room is not ready. You can collapse on the lobby sofa in frustration, or you can use it as an opportunity to go exploring.

back of woman standing amongst palm trees

What else are you going to do? Stepping out into the city – even if it’s only a quick walk around the block – will take your mind off stress and focus your attention on why you’re there in the first place: to soak in the sights and sounds of a foreign land.

Grab a Bite to Eat

Another great way to keep living in the moment when travel gets stressful is to grab a bite to eat. Do some research to find the nearest authentic restaurant with decent reviews and give the local cuisine a try. The aromas and flavors of the various foods you eat will prove to be some of the most vivid memories of your trip.

woman with sunglasses eating a croissant

You might not like everything you try, but the adventure of the unknown is part of the fun! Besides, you never know; you might end up falling in love with a dish you’d otherwise have missed out on.

Take Photos+ Share

Another way to take your mind off travel-related stress and keep living in the moment is to take photos of all the interesting places you visit. If you have to kill some time, review your photos on your phone and send the best ones to friends and family back home.

close up of woman taking a photo with a camera

Learn new words and phrases

Are you unfamiliar with the local language? If so, consider brushing up on common words and phrases as a way to alleviate stress. Doing so helps you feel more empowered as well as make it easier to understand the locals. If the stress of travel is rooted in a lack of socializing due to language barriers, taking time to learn the basics can go a long way in improving the outlook of your trip going forward.

Young woman teaches a foreign language against the backdrop of a big city

You won’t become fluent overnight, but even a slight improvement is better than hoping you find someone who speaks your language.

Do some people-watching

Is the stress of travel getting you down? Do you have some time to kill? If so, consider finding a park bench somewhere and people-watching for an hour or so. While you want to avoid being a creep, simply sitting back and watching people walk by can prove to be an eye-opening experience regarding your understanding of local customs and culture.

smiling woman in a cafe with cup of coffee

It beats killing time cooped up in your hotel room!

International travel is guaranteed to be a trip you never forget. However, it’s also likely you’ll experience stress along the way. Rather than let it get in the way of having a good time, find ways to keep living in the moment.

How about you? Have more tips for living in the moment when travel gets stressful? Do share!

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woman floating in the ocean looking upwoman leaning against a grey wall having a quiet momentback of woman standing amongst palm trees

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15 Comments

  1. Mindfulness is amazing at helping with stress and anxiety. I don’t usually travel very far from home but the stress is still there at times and mindfulness can help to put you back in the moment.

  2. These are great suggestions. I know I’m more irritable if I’m hungry or hangry as they say. But stepping back from the situation and taking a few deep breaths can help bring you back on track.

  3. Going exploring is such a lovely way to distract yourself. It can be lovely to go see new things and have a mini adventure in a new place.

  4. Travel is very stressful for me. One thing that I look forward to doing is trying new foods which helps take the stress out of all of the unknown.

  5. Yes, it is hard to actually step away, with technology making contact so darned easy! These are great reminders that you can do it!

  6. These are good thoughts although I have yet to experience stress while traveling. It’s always a pleasant moment for me.

  7. Great post! I recently went on a cruise and almost threw in the towel before we were even on the boat because of the stress of the COVID restrictions with my kids…SO glad I didn’t!

  8. I agree, traveling now post pandemic is really stressful but it’s definitely a great way also to remove that stress when traveling! That just goes for me!