Anyone that knows me knows that I like to be relaxed. Maybe too relaxed at times, I’ll admit, but when it comes to traveling, there’s a reason people like me as a travel buddy. I don’t get stressed.
However! I have recently come to understand that this is a drastically unfashionable way to behave. Calm isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Stress. Apparently. People will advertise their office as the kind of place that keeps you working til 2 every morning. Business owners will semi-brag about being fueled by nothing more than coffee and a hollow desire to get their checklists completed. Baggy eyes are revered.
As incomprehensible as I find this, I have decided to give it a whirl. It’s my job, after all, to keep my finger on the white-hot pulse of public opinion. (What’s that you say…? It’s not my job? Then what is it, because I can’t for the life of me make it out…)
How long is your trip? Two weeks? And how many different basic outfits do you normally wear in two weeks, five or six? Okay, let’s assume that you’re going to want a completely different outfit every single day as well as evening wear. For some reason. Cram that case so tight you’re going to spend every second of your flight worried it’s going to burst open in the hold.
Also you definitely don’t want to leave any space. Use every single kilo of your allowed baggage weight, so that you’ll be rethinking every souveneir and postcard purchase for the duration of the trip in case you go over the limit on the way back.
Airports are synonymous with one thing. Flying? Nope! Lines! Lines to park, to check in, to go through security, to use the bathroom. You will always spend extra time in some line or other. So you should probably plan to arrive with just the required number of minutes, so you can spend every moment in every line hopping up and down and looking at your watch.
After all, if you’re early, you’ll probably just get bored. And if you do get delayed you can do one of those cool running-through-the-airport-moments like you’re in a romantic comedy from the early 2000s.
If you have a layover, spend the entire time sitting by the gate. Just in case it changes. Don’t snack, or nap, or explore. All of those activities are notoriously enjoyable and relaxing.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you will need to get from the airport to wherever you’re going. In order to maintain stress levels, it is very important that you on no account ask for help. Don’t be fooled — just because those people in the helpful-looking uniforms work at an international airport that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to speak English, so don’t even try. Just take your best guess at where to go and for goodness’ sake don’t smile at anyone.
You probably have a list of things that you want to see, do and eat while you’re at your destination. That’s great! You should stick to it. No matter what. Do not deviate from your list or you will have a very terrible time. Probably. And if circumstances force you to change your plan in any way, you should go ahead and throw a tantrum. Just in case.
Alternatively, and this is also a great option for maximum stress, don’t make any plans at all. You should still have really high expectations, of course, but don’t actually do any research into anything until you arrive. You’ll be in for a whirlwind ride of mad dashes through museums, overpriced last-minute tickets and “sold out” signs.
Comfort? Casualness? Who needs ’em? Dress to the nines every day, that’s what I say. Bring your foundation with you to the beach, just in case you need a touch up. Otherwise all the seagulls might laugh at you. Walking through six museums in the same day? Break out the super cute shoes you’ve only ever worn to fancy parties. Nothing like popping a blister at the end of the day to remind you of what a great time you’re having, and then you can get nice and worried about how you’re going to make it back to the hotel.
You might be going on this trip with some friends. That’s wonderful – but you’ll have to be careful, as having traveling companions can result in dangerously low stress levels. I’d go with one of the following: insist on doing everything you want to do, regardless of anyone else, and then panic when they seem to find this a bit annoying. Alternatively, let everyone else decide on what should be done, refusing to contribute anything and just hoping that they’ll pick up on your ideas via ESP.
Be sure not to get acquainted with any of the locals. Knowing that you have some inside help and guidance can be very calming when in a new, strange country. So… don’t.