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How to Plan Relaxing, Stress-Free Travel
If you’ve ever felt like traveling is stressful, you’re not alone. There’s so much to plan and do! Plus, the idea of travel can cause some anxiety. This can be compounded if you’re in a leadership position at work that makes it tough to even think about taking time off. It’s enough to make you want to scrap the idea of a getaway altogether. But it’s these types of extremes that keep people from using up those precious and well-deserved vacation days. That’s why The Joy of Cruising is sharing some tips for easing your mind and truly enjoying your next vacation.
Taking a Real Break
When you’re overdue for an escape, it’s time to make time off a priority. And there are ways to limit the overwhelm. For example, if you want a simple, affordable getaway somewhere secluded, look for a cabin on a lake. Or if you want some time at the beach, find an amenity-laden vacation rental smack dab on your favorite coastline. If work is the underlying issue, all you need is a vacation strategy to prepare yourself and your team for your absence. They just need enough guidance so that you can fully unplug and immerse yourself in whatever adventure awaits. Vacation and work are incompatible, so you’ll need to make an effort to set business aside until your return.
On the other hand, you can save money and turn a business trip into a real vacation. Ideally, you won’t cram vacation activities between work commitments. Instead, try to extend your stay and dedicate those extra days to relaxing. But if you’re self-employed or a business owner, you can expense many costs on a trip where you will do some business. Things like hotel rooms, car rentals, and even airfare can be expensed, which cuts out a lot of the financial hit of a personal or family vacation.
Traveling with Pets
There are a few extra considerations you’ll want to make as a pet owner. The biggest decision is whether to bring your pet. This might come down to whether or not your vacation destination is pet-friendly. Not all major airlines, hotels, or vacation rentals allow pets. Bringing your pet can be a lot of fun, but it also dictates a lot of what you can and cannot do, so consider these options before you decide to bring Fido along.
If you make the difficult decision to leave your pet home, you might consider getting a pet sitter (whether you ask a friend or hire a professional) or place your pet in a boarding kennel. That way, you can relax on vacation while knowing your beloved pet is in good hands back home.
Coping with Stress While Traveling
Of course, there are never any guarantees that you won’t encounter unexpected stressors while on vacation. One way to deal with stress while also enjoying a quick mental health boost is by spending some time in nature. Nature has been proven to reduce stress and promote mental health. Try enjoying local hiking trails, ski slopes, visiting a nearby park or having a picnic. If you’re unable to go outside, bring a book or crochet supplies with you wherever you go. That way, you can still take your mind off of any stressful events and gift yourself a few minutes of self-care.
If money is a major concern, you can find ways to tuck away money before your trip. Start by cutting down on unnecessary expenses, such as trips to the movies or fancy lattes. Put the money you’ll save toward your travel. Depending upon how disciplined you are, you should be able to save enough funds to cover at least a small trip or weekend getaway. That way you won’t feel guilty about the cost of your time away.
Traveling with Chronic Illness
Chronic illness is a vicious cycle. It has been shown to trigger depression in many people, notes the National Institute of Mental Health, which itself has been linked to a variety of additional health conditions. Luckily, it’s possible to travel with chronic illness. In fact, some forms of travel may actually help those with chronic illness by improving brain function and mood while decreasing stress and anxiety. As it turns out, taking a vacation could be just what the doctor ordered!
Once you’ve decided where to go, the fun begins. When packing for a trip, there are some considerations you should make if you have chronic illness. For instance, you may need to call your insurance company ahead of time for prior authorization of medications if you’ll be traveling for more than a couple of weeks. This is especially true if you’re traveling overseas, as pharmacies typically will not fill foreign prescriptions. Any liquid or gel medications will need to be properly packed according to security regulations, and you may need a signed note from your doctor before bringing medications aboard an aircraft.
Take all these considerations to heart and watch the anxiety about traveling melt away. Once you’re at your destination, remember that this is “you” time, so maximize your self-care whenever possible, from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning until you’re under the covers at night. All the planning is worth it!
…Neil arrived in Anchorage. After a night in a hotel there, along with other Princess employees about to join Coral Princess--many like Neil on their first contract—they boarded a shuttle bus to the pier. “What were your thoughts as you were on your way to board the Coral Princess? Were you anxious about seasickness?” I inquired.
“I was excited. I didn’t have any anxiety about seasickness or anything. I hadn’t thought about it because I didn’t have a clue about what I was getting myself into. I was looking forward to it. Just amazed at the size of that ship as you came around the corner and saw it for the first time, docked against the backdrop of the mountains.”
Neil really didn’t have a clue of what to expect or what was going on. He told me an anecdote about a person who as they were getting off the bus noticed Neil’s shirt, which was the jersey of the Everton Football Club in Liverpool. The individual introduced himself to Neil; he was also English and told Neil that the Everton Football Club was his favorite team. Later Neil found out that this guy was close to the most important person on the ship. But that day on the bus Neil told me, “I didn’t have a clue.”
Neil asked him what he did on the ship, and he told Neil that he was the cruise director. Neil said, “So what does that mean?” The cruise director laughed, and it was the beginning of a bit of a kinship. The cruise director would have the Everton matches sent to him every weekend and when he was done, Neil would go and collect the tapes from him….
While much of what Neil experienced early on seemed to whiz by because of the pressures of his work schedule and trying to get up to speed in terms of being a videographer for Princess Cruises, that doesn’t mean Neil was not enjoying his new job. Neil said, “A few days after boarding Coral Princess, I thought to myself ‘this is what college would have been like had I gone away to school.’ And it was obvious what things were going to be like right from the start. You know you’re joining a good ship when everyone in your new department is hungover as shit the first time you meet them because there’s just been a big party the night before for the person you’re replacing!”
Of the dozens of cruisers that I have interviewed for The Joy of Cruising, Cruising Interrupted and The Joy of Cruising Again! most of them listed a Panama Canal cruise as among their most memorable past cruises, on their bucket list for future cruises, or both. On his first contract, Neil was able to cross the Panama Canal every 12 days for the season that Coral Princess repositioned from Alaska. While visiting the same ports every week or so and filming passengers doing the same things on the same excursions over and over could become repetitive for Neil, the Panama stop was different. With all Coral Princess’ destinations and excursions, Neil lamented that he could not video documentary-style focusing on the location—particularly the sheer technical magnificence of the locks system at the Panama Canal. But the videography department’s reason for being was to get passengers to order videos, and the key to making that happen was for them to see themselves in them. So that meant not only shooting the ship traversing the locks but importantly capturing the passengers waving from the balconies and decks. Nevertheless, Neil didn’t mind the routine of the semi-weekly visit to the Panama Canal, although he learned on his first time filming the Coral Princess traversing the locks, that preparing for the long day ahead was akin to some James Bond role-playing:
After just about waking up (sobering up) we had to climb down a rope ladder and jump onto the pilot boat that would take us ashore while the ship went through the locks. This was seriously some action movie shit; you had to pass all your equipment and make sure your life jacket was secure. It’s still crazy to think that I had to jump from a moving cruise ship onto another smaller boat after about three hours of sleep while it was still night outside; in your twenties, you do not question any of it and you jump when they tell you! Once on land, a jeep was waiting to take us to the locks where we would film the ship going through; from an artistic point it would have been great to focus on the mechanical and technical aspects of the ships transit; however, the main reason for us being ashore was to take pictures of the guests waving at us from their balconies onboard. —Cruise Ship Diaries
…after experiencing that every couple of weeks, Neil and the photographer who accompanied him on the shoot decided to shake things up a little bit. Their driver/bodyguard (yes, he was armed) would normally take them to the Melia Hotel for a few hours and then he was supposed to take them to the second set of locks and drop Neil and his assistant at the terminal for the rest of the afternoon to wait for the Coral Princess to come in.
Instead of taking us to the locks, our driver took us to a tiny industrial area where this tinker toy-looking death trap was waiting for me and Christian, our assistant manager. At this point, I'd never even been in a helicopter before let alone tried to operate a camera in one! I was also slightly unnerved by the fact that our pilot didn't seem to speak any English and myself and Christian didn't speak any Spanish. Of course, these are trivial concerns when you realize the helicopter has no doors! Yes, admittedly great for filming but also THERE WERE NO DOORS! And one tiny seat belt that went around our waists. With the adrenaline fully flowing the pilot then decided to take us over Panama City on the way back to the airfield which gave us some amazing shots of the city’s skyline. —Cruise Ship Diaries
...the photography department had appealed for funds to film the Coral traversing the locks from the sky, that is, allow them to do a helicopter shoot of the canal. The idea was to package and sell the helicopter footage as extra cost additional content—passengers are going to buy a video of their ship going through. Princess had funded the expense of a helicopter in the past but on a sporadic basis. Neil got his opportunity to lead the shoot on his first contract, and it was a success. I asked Neil if he had any lasting impressions. “The photography department realized a surge in Reflections video revenues on that sailing; and oh yeah, THERE WERE NO DOORS!”
Read the complete Cruise Ship Diaries in the section, Ship Life, in The Joy of Cruising Again, available in Spring ‘23
The Joy of Cruising Again!
My passion is cruising on the ocean. The only pastime I enjoy nearly as much as cruising is writing about cruising. I have written a couple of cruise books, The Joy of Cruising and Cruising Interrupted. The books are fun collections of cruising narratives, compendiums of profiles of cruisers who are passionate, have interesting stories and perspectives, and embody the joy of cruising. Some are well-known, even celebrities (Grammy Winner, TV Star, Poker Hall of Famer—each with a fascinating cruising narrative); many are like some of you, “ordinary cruisers” with extraordinary stories! One story that I call a modern-day fairy tale: a United Kingdom woman who had never cruised before, chosen to be UK's first non-royal, non-celebrity cruise ship Godmother! Even if you have never cruised but aspire to cruise, or simply enjoy storytelling, the books are a fun read.
I am currently writing The Joy of Cruising Again—a fitting end to the trilogy celebrating the return of cruising post-lockdown. The Joy of Cruising Again will be published in Spring 2023 following a couple of bucket list cruises I will be sailing: the Mediterranean on Celebrity Beyond in October 2022, and The Smooth Jazz Cruise in January 2023 where I plan to interview some of the performers.
When complete, the three books in the series will have featured 75 individuals, couples, and companies from all over the world ranging in age from 2-96. The Joy of Cruising Again continues in the tradition of fascinating stories about individuals passionate about cruising. Two Guinness Book of World honorees! And we’ll be bringing back regular sections like “Cruisers Like You and Me…Sort Of” with features like Bucket List Publications and Living On Cruise Ships; or, “Cruising’s Young and Restless” featuring Gen Z cruisers you want to get to know (because you will probably be hearing from them in the future); and, a new section called “Ship Life” featuring previous and current cruise ship crew members with each one representing a unique cruising story, like The Singing Maitre D’ or Cruise Ship Diaries or The Captain.
Imagine a fun story about a mom who cruises within months of each other with her two small children on the new Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas, and the Disney Wish—when she is not busy cage diving with great white sharks, driving Formula One race cars, flying biplanes upside down, or jumping out of perfectly good ones! No, I couldn’t imagine it either—until I had a blast writing about it in The Joy of Cruising Again.
Coming soon excerpts at https://www.thejoyofcruising.net/blog
Paul C. Thornton