Finally! The moment you’ve been waiting for – the chance to get away from it all and really relax on vacation. The beach! The sights! It's all so exciting -- until you hit the traffic, the jet lag, the "uh, oh, cash machine again?" moments. Here's the thing: You don't have to come home feeling like you need a vacation from your relaxing vacation. Follow these simple travel solutions and arrive home truly refreshed.
TRAVEL HASSLE #1: Traffic
TRAVEL SOLUTION: Get out the door on time.
No one plans to leave during rush hour. But even the best intentions go awry when you're tying up loose ends at work and at home. How can you stick to your departure time? "Be truly ready to go the minute you wake up," says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing From the Inside Out. Start packing three days ahead and jot down any final-hour items—like a favorite toiletry—as you go. Hang the list on your door and put a copy on your suitcase. At the office, send out an email to coworkers two weeks, a week and then two days before you leave so that no one springs a must-do task on you when you're rushing out the door. Figure out in advance who’ll cover for you and defer any last-minute "emergencies" to her.
TRAVEL HASSLE #2: Belly bloat
TRAVEL SOLUTION: Snack smarter.
"Flying tends to wreak havoc with your belly because the gasses in your digestive system expand at high altitudes," says Shape contributor Cynthia Sass, R.D. To reduce bloating, skip the greasy stuff and seek out healthier fast food options or BYO snacks: Pack a baggie with unsweetened dried fruit and /or almonds—a golf–ball-sized portion of each will keep you full and balance your blood sugar without taking up too much space in your belly. Instead of carbonated drinks, order hot water and bring your own tea bags. Stash peppermint or ginger teas in your carry-on, since they soothe your digestive system.
TRAVEL HASSLE #3: Jet lag
TRAVEL SOLUTION: Grab all the zzz’s you can get.
The best way to ward off a post-flight zombie-like state is to sleep on the plane, says Beth Whitman, founder of Wanderlust and Lipstick, a guidebook series, website and tour company for women travelers. When she travels across time zones, Whitman takes valerian root, an herb that acts as a mild sleep aid. Other travelers often ask their doctors for something stronger. Wear noise-canceling headphones to block out the chatter of nearby passengers. If all efforts fail and you arrive not quite rested and ready, just accept the time zone you're in and keep moving. Your scrapbook will thank you for it.
TRAVEL HASSLE #4: Overspending
TRAVEL SOLUTION: Don't leave home without a budget.
You've spent a lot of time finding a great deal on an airline ticket, so don't hemorrhage cash once you land. You need a well thought-out budget with a little bit of wiggle room for fun (it is vacation!). Before you go, outline each day, using guidebooks and websites to figure out the costs of activities, transportation and food. Throw in an additional allowance for mini-splurges. Once you're there, keep a daily log of your expenses. "When you see where your extra money is going you can make immediate adjustments," Whitman explains.
TRAVEL HASSLE #5: Your luggage
TRAVEL SOLUTION: Pack light and tight.
Lugging around luggage can be heavy, expensive and time-consuming. But your bags don't have to drag you down. For most trips you can fit everything into a 22-inch carry-on. It will save money (anywhere from 25 to 100 bucks now that airlines charge for checked bags) and stress since you'll be able to bypass long airport lines and head directly through security. Pack lightweight fabrics in a unified color scheme so you can mix and match. Use zippered compression bags for items like T-shirts and undies and they’ll take up only a fraction of the space; squeeze smaller items into your shoes. Budget your clothes the same way you budget your dollars, advises Morgenstern—outline your plans in advance. "By forcing decision making, you end up bringing just what you're going to use," she says. "It really streamlines how much you carry." Hey, it's your vacation: Lighten up!