Are you relaxed?
First, I’m going to lay down some truth. You’re not going to have fun 100% of the time.
Sometimes you’re going to be bored. Sometimes you’re going to be tired. Sometimes you’re going to have a headache. Sometimes you’re going to have a hangover. Sometimes things will go wrong. Sometimes you might disagree or argue with your travel mates. Sometimes, no matter how carefully you’ve picked good restaurants and cafes, you’re going to end up ‘hangry’ and eating at a fast food chain.
You might even have a bit of a meltdown. Mine were related to my anxiety issues and tended to be closely tied to the magnitude of what we were doing: how long I was planning the trip, how much it cost, how much I’d been looking forward to it, and whether I thought I’d ever make it back to that place again.
I don’t have them anymore since we’ve shifted our lives to England, and one reason was to make short, breezy trips much easier to take. But you’d better believe I had the mother of all meltdowns about 10 days after we moved here from Canada. ‘What did we just do?!?’
If you struggle to relax while travelling, I’ve got a few tips for that too.
My list of absolutions
- It’s ok if you don’t like or want to taste that country’s must-try food or drink.
- It’s ok to go off the beaten track. That’s how we once ended up at a chill pub overlooking Portobello Beach on a sunny day in Edinburgh instead of joining the crowds walking up the Royal Mile.
- It’s ok to sleep in if you want.
- It’s ok if you don’t see everything. Our first time in Paris coincided with a city-wide museum and gallery workers’ strike. It was a blessing in disguise – the weather was great, we wandered the streets, explored the parks and cathedrals and felt way less pressure.
- It’s ok to set foot in McDonald’s. They have toilets, wifi, coffee and bottled water. I’ll pretend not to notice if you end up getting a Big Mac too.
- It’s ok to ride a hop-on-hop-off bus. I can’t think of an easier way to cover a lot of territory in a short time, get tons of interesting facts and find out which neighborhoods seem the coolest. They are great in huge cities. Not really necessary in smaller, more compact ones, obviously.
So worth it
- Hire a professional tour guide, especially if you have a special interest.
- Take the tours on offer at museums, galleries and cathedrals.
- Take taxis.
- Take public transit.
- Ask for a quiet room.
- If you’re heading straight to your hotel to store your luggage ahead of check-in, ask nicely if you can check in early. Might be possible on a slower day.
- Ask locals for restaurant recommendations.
- Duck into stores for toiletries and groceries – make your errands fascinating.
- See what’s around that corner and get a little lost.
- Use your hotel’s concierge if it has one, or
- Ask the front desk for help with general stuff or quick recommendations.
It’s all about the timing
- Find out when restaurants are actually serving food. Many places close their kitchens, if not shut down and lock up, between lunch and dinner.
- Relatedly, do some research on what time most people eat dinner in that part of the world. It might be later than you’re used to in North America.
- In Spain and Italy, many businesses observe siesta or riposo. Not much, if anything, will be open during that time in smaller towns. Best to stay poolside or take a nap yourself. It’s hot out.
- Find out when attractions aren’t as busy – usually first thing in the morning or right before they close.
And that’s it! Be safe and have a wonderful holiday.
Previous posts in this series
My guide to boss travel: Introduction
My guide to boss travel: Step 1 – Deciding where to go, and when
My guide to boss travel: Step 2 – Who’s joining you?
My guide to boss travel: Step 3 – Time to dream
My guide to boss travel: Step 4 – Sorting out the boring stuff
My guide to boss travel: Step 5 – In transit