I love to travel, and if you are reading this, chances are that you love it as well. Visiting new places, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures – the list of pleasures associated with travel is long indeed. Yet travel can also be stressful. Crowded aircraft, tight connections, unfamiliar surroundings….. Even for the seasoned traveler there are aspects of travel which can be very stressful. Some folks I know have decided that travel is ” just not worth the hassle”. They have given up on traveling! Wow – I think that is such a shame. There is a much better solution to the problem. Rather than giving up on travel – try developing better Travel Stress Management Skills. There are oh so many things that the savvy traveler can do to minimize and manage travel stress. I thought it would be interesting to share some ideas and concepts about Stress Management for Travelers which you might find useful. I’ll be sharing more ideas in future articles. For today I’ll start with a simple “2 Step” Stress Management approach. As with most stress reduction techniques it includes a focus on situational awareness, constructive thinking, and effective action.
Step One -
Recognize and distinguish between those things over which you have control and those which you do not. If your airline flight from New York to Los Angeles is booked full – there’s not much you can do about it – it’s out of your control. If you are not satisfied with your reserved “non-smoking” hotel room which reeks of smoke – you have some control. If it is raining on your only day to visit and photograph Machu Picchu – it’s out of your control. If the waiter at that great little sidewalk cafe on the Champs-Elsees seats you at a gloomy inside table – you do have control.
Step Two -
In situations where you do have control – develop several reasonable options to remedy the difficulty and then politely, but firmly, take action. ( This is a basic assertiveness approach to problem solving. ) If you reserved a “smoke free” room but got the “smokey room”, return to the hotel desk in person and explain that there must have been a mistake and that the assigned room is not acceptable. Be firm but clear that you need an appropriate room and nicely stand your ground. If you don’t care for the location of the table where you were seated in a cafe, nicely ask for a different location. If the waiter is reluctant, a nice smile and a small gratuity might help. If not, you can always go to a different cafe. The idea here is to take appropriate action – be nicely assertive – in situations where you have some degree of control or a range of options which you can exercise. What you don’t want to do is to sulk, ruminate, or negatively obsess about the situation. This will only ruin your day and not accomplish anything. Take action when you can.
In situations where you have little or no control - well that’s the time to ” accept what is” and ” let it go”. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on something beyond your control. Indeed, focusing on unsolvable situations only makes them more stressful and makes you more irritated. Accept the reality over which you are powerless and work with what you can control. On that overcrowded and cramped flight – close you eyes, breathe slowly, and relax. Listen to some soothing music and go into your thoughts. Remember a quiet, pleasant experience you have had in the past – revisit it in your imagination. If weather is uncooperative and it “rains on your parade” ( or your photo safari to Machu Picchu) you can moan and groan about your bad luck but it won’t change a thing. Better to “accept what is” and make the best of it. Cover your camera with a plastic bag and then get out there and start shooting! Find ways to make the most of the rain experience. Shoot the clouds, the water, the dripping wet tourists. Your photos will be unique. Everyone has seen your location with the blue skies and puffy white clouds. Some of the most outstanding photos are taken in “poor” weather conditions. Go for it!
Bottom line? When stressful situations strikes (and don’t be surprised because they will) – do what you can and then move on. Part of the adventure of travel is encountering and dealing with new and challenging situations. Don’t over focused on the negative - that’s a death spiral downward to a ruined travel experience. Deal with the difficulty as best you can. Then put it behind you. Move on! There’s more fun and enjoyment out there – go find it!
Manage The Stress………And Enjoy The Adventure!
Dr.B, The Photo Trekker