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Travel Tips

6 Expert Tips for Beating Travel Stress and Hacking Vacation Mode

A big getaway might sound like the ultimate path towards relaxation, but let's face it—travel doesn't always go as planned. For those times when stress seems to follow you on vacation, we have the solutions.

In partnership with Natural Vitality CALM

Style + Travel Editor | Instagram @jackiehoman | jackiehoman.com

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Admit it: Travel is exciting and thrilling and inspiring, but it can also be stressful. Between planning, packing, and getting into vacation mode, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed during a time that should feel amazing. That’s where we come in. As die-hard travelers, we know the travel pitfalls and how to stay calm, and we’ve turned to the pros for even more coping strategies. Here, the top tips for beating the mishaps and enjoying that stress-free getaway you deserve.

Be mindful, Jetsetters

When you’re in a nerve-wracking situation like dealing with a canceled flight, lost luggage, or a fear of flying, it’s easy to let your mind spiral. The fix? Thought exercises and activities, says Matt Lundquist, founder-director of Tribeca Therapy. “Try replacing irrational thoughts with rational ones, or repeat a mantra that reinforces a sense of calmness,” he says.

Visualization exercises before the trip are also key. “Imagine a smooth trip ahead, with as much detail as possible, the week leading up to travel,” says Gwen Gaydos, a holistic wellness expert. By picturing everything going perfectly ahead of time, you’re one step closer to making it happen.

“This may sound ridiculous because I travel so much, but I absolutely hate flying,” says Clara Sedlak, Executive Editor of Jetsetter. “So before I hop on a flight, I close my eyes and imagine myself at the destination already, drinking a cocktail and watching the sun set. It helps calm me, big time—and of course, a glass on the plane doesn’t hurt, either.”

A young woman with her eyes closed enjoying a good and relaxing flight.photo taken in the airplane.

Curb that sweet tooth

As much as you might crave a caffeine fix before a flight, you should rethink that Starbucks latté at the airport. In fact, consider eliminating or decreasing all sugars and caffeine before a big trip, since they cause irritability and inflammation and affect the quality of your sleep. Gaydos suggests loading up on foods with essential fatty acids like avocados, salmon, coconut oil, and chia seeds, as well as a little-known mineral—magnesium— that can work wonders to calm your nerves. “Natural CALM is an amazing magnesium supplement that comes in a highly absorbable form,” she says. That means it goes to work right away, restoring magnesium levels to allow your muscles to relax.

Breathe, breathe, breathe

Listen up, Jetsetters: sometimes all you need is to take a deep breath. We’re big fans of the three-part, re-centering practice that Gaydos taught us: “Inhale to the count of three, hold at the top for three, exhale to the count of three, and hold at the bottom of the breath for three.” Go ahead and try it—we guarantee you’ll be able to think more clearly and react more positively to stressful situations.

Slather up

It’s all about essential oils these days, and we believe the hype. Applying them to the body provides instant stress relief. Just take it from Jetsetter editor Gretchen Dorosz, who brings an essential oil roller on flights and uses a homemade lavender spray on her sheets and pillows: “Aromatherapy is an amazing tool for travel—it helps me stay relaxed and refreshed so that I can make the most of my trip.”

Lavender essential oil aromatherapy

Try meditation

To stay at a healthy level of calm before your trip (or even as a quick de-stresser in the middle of a travel crisis), make time for yoga, stretching, or meditation. Between the yoga YouTube series Yoga With Adriene and meditation apps like Headspace, Unplug, and Insight Timer, even beginners can learn exactly what to do.

“My anxiety levels used to be off the charts, but then I started meditation, and travel has completely changed for me,” says Jetsetter editor Lindsey Olander. “Calm, my favorite meditation app, offers guided sessions and breathing exercises according to your personal goals, whether that’s reducing stress or better sleep, as well as natural sound and white noise soundtracks that have helped me fall asleep on planes—something I was never able to do before.”

Group of happy friends chatting in the airport

Accept it, and be good

When something’s gone wrong and there’s nothing you can do to change it, the best way to cope is acceptance. Missed flight? Trust us—it’s happened to us Jetsetters more times than we can count, but with everything that can go wrong on a trip, you’ve got to learn to go with the flow to truly get into vacation mode. There’s no point in worrying yourself to death or yelling at the airline agent. Also, people are much more willing to help you out with a situation if you stay chill. “I once arrived at a hotel in Florence, Italy, after a long day of traveling, and they couldn’t find my reservation anywhere,” says Jetsetter reader Alison Ogden. “My immediate reaction was to freak out, but I took a step back, accepted what had happened, and put on the charm. Eventually, they upgraded me to a suite!”

PS: In this day and age, you don’t want to be that person caught on video having a meltdown only to find yourself the subject of a meme the next day. The staff who work at airports, train stations, and car rental counters are likely just as stressed as you are, so keep that in mind before losing your cool. There’s no question you’ll be better off in the end for it.


When travel becomes stressful, experts turn to Natural Vitality CALM, and so do we. The supplement restores healthy magnesium levels in the body, leading to more relaxed muscles—and a more relaxed vacation in return.


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