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10 Smart Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

10 Smart Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

Most people love the idea of a holiday but dread the thought of planning it. Whether it’s booking flights, coordinating logistics, or last minute packing, the pre-travel part can get a little stressful at times. Key to avoiding all this anxiety is to take a step-by-step approach and get organised in advanced.

If you’re keen to make your next getaway as smooth and stress-free as possible, consider the following 10 tips before you jet off.

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Keep your options open

Whether it’s flights or accommodation, never book the first thing you see. Browse in incognito mode to avoid cookie tracking and the consequent price spike from suppliers, and make friends with comparison websites. When booking for hotels, use a site like Booking.com to lock down several free-cancellation options. This gives you some flexibility to change or cancel a hotel when an impromptu sale or discount pops up for another hotel a few weeks later. Whilst Airbnb is also a fantastic go-to, the platform generally requires immediate payment, which makes it less flexible – so only opt for this option if you’re 100% certain on a place to stay.

Get savvy with your researching

Guilty of doing the bare minimum when it comes to researching your travel destination before flying out? Rookie error! To maximise your holiday experience, it’s worthwhile checking out travel and food blogs for recommendations on local gems off the beaten path, the best places to eat and tourist traps to avoid. Similarly, do the due diligence in checking for travel discounts and special offers – if you can save some money, why not? Travel deals websites like Scoopon offer holiday packages that include flights and accommodations with occasional additions like tours and activities, ideal for those who want to avoid the hassle of planning everything. Always double check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of what’s included and most importantly, what’s not.

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Tick off your pre-departure to-dos

Draft up an essential to-do list and ensure you tick every item off before departure. This includes checking visa and passport requirements for the destination you’re heading to, buying travel insurance, notifying your bank of your travel arrangements (to avoid credit card disappointment), and saving emergency numbers in your phone. If you’re taking leave from work, ensure your out-of-office message has been set up in your emails and that close friends and family are aware of where you’re heading off. These tasks may seem pesky but once ticked off, can help prevent unpleasant and unwanted situations.

Create an itinerary (and include the details)

Avoid the ‘wing it’ mentality and dedicate time to creating a proper travel itinerary. You don’t necessarily need to stick to it word for word once you’re at the destination, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan to fall on if your spontaneous adventures don’t work out. At the bare minimum, include details of where you’re staying for each day, a list of key activities you have planned and transport logistics on how to get from A to B. The time you spend organising yourself before you leave will result in time saved upon arrival at your holiday destination. The last thing you want is to have wasted 2 hours getting lost because you forgot to research how the local transport system works.

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Organise your finances & get the right credit card

Different people have varying preferences when it comes to money and travel – some prefer cash whilst others love card. It’s worth researching the destination to see what the local preferences are – some countries are more cash-driven than others. There’s long been a debate over cash vs. card, but your best bet is to have both. If you’re thinking of bringing a credit card, the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard is a fantastic travel option to consider as there are no annual fees, no currency conversion fees, and no international transaction fees on purchases. If you have connecting flights or long layovers, consider converting some cash for those destinations too.

Download the right apps

Leverage technology to your advantage and download apps that are designed to make your travel experience easier. Apart from the essentials like Uber and WhatsApp, there are some hidden heroes to be discovered. Google Translate works wonders when you come across foreign text – simply take a photo and the app will instantly translate the text into your language of choice. Tripit is another handy one – the app utilises all of your booking confirmation emails (hotels, flights, attractions, restaurant reservations) to generate an itinerary for you.

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Sort out your Wi-Fi needs

In the increasingly connected world we live in today, Wi-Fi access has become a non-negotiable, especially when traveling. Depending on where you’re going, internet access and availability may vary. For most destinations, there are generally two options – you can get a local sim card with data usage included or a pocket Wi-Fi. Ensure your phone is unlocked before you jet off and turn on global roaming just in case your Wi-Fi plans don’t work out. Whilst using data via global roaming can amount to a pricey bill, having the option to turn it on is still recommended in case you need the access during an emergency.

Pack for the expected and unexpected

No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios but it’s handy to pack with a backup plan in mind. If possible, pack all of your valuables in your carry-on and always include a contingency pack. This pack should include a toothbrush, essential toiletries, phone/laptop chargers, spare underwear, and a change of clothes – all will prove to be a godsend if an unforeseeable delay pops up or your checked luggage goes missing. Also, bring a few spare shopping bags so you can separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones. Avoid over packing, especially if you’re heading to a shopping destination.

Update your digital storage

If you haven’t already, download Dropbox or Google Drive – the best apps for online storage. Scan your passport and save a digital copy, along with your travel insurance confirmation, flight and hotel bookings, and any other important travel documents. No one wants to lug around folders of paperwork, so get digitally savvy and ensure you’re covered by getting organised ahead of time. For safe measure, you can also email yourself copies of the above.

Plan ahead to prepare for your arrival back home

Nothing is more stressful than returning from a relaxing holiday to a messy or dirty house. Avoid this by making the extra effort prior to departure. Do a thorough clean of the house the day before you leave, so that you’ll come home to order as opposed to chaos. If you’re living alone and about to go overseas for a long time, it’s also worth hiring someone to come by to collect the mail every week and maintain your garden. Look to online marketplaces and apps like Airtasker to easily outsource the job.

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Last Updated on January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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