I not only love to travel, I love the act of physically traveling. Whether flying, driving, or rolling along the rails, I truly enjoy the journey. Although I do genuinely appreciate the process, I’ve certainly had my fair share of unpleasant experiences – from broken seats forcing me to sit unnaturally upright for hours to sharing a row with couples getting a little too cozy – that have made me yearn for the trip to end immediately.

And while for the most part I like the traveling part of travel, I’ve encountered far more people who loathe getting from point A to point B. With that in mind, I’ve spent some time reflecting on how to make traveling more enjoyable. Here are my top recommendations for making your trips better if you love to travel but hate traveling.

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Pick the best seat for you.

If you have the option of selecting a seating in advance, do your research so that you make an educated choice. For air travel the considerations go a lot further than window or aisle – front or back, emergency exit, close to a bathroom or service station, etc – so check out Seat Guru for details and reviews of specific seats on your route. If traveling by train you may be able to choose or reserve a seat in advance so take some time to determine what you prefer – standard seat versus compartment, what direction to face, window versus aisle, and so forth. If you can’t reserve your particular place in advance, showing up a bit early so that you’re one of the first on board no matter what your travel method will increase your likelihood of snagging a coveted seat.

Don’t chose the cheapest option just because it’s the cheapest.

Unless you’re on a restrictive budget, don’t eliminate alternatives simply because they’re more expensive – there might be more convenient, more efficient, and more comfortable options for only a marginally higher price for example taking a ferry across versus driving around. There are instances when the cheapest option is the most efficient, such as flying long distances within Europe rather than taking the train, but you might give something up that you value – like the scenery and experience of taking the train through many smaller towns. Research all of your options before deciding on a method of travel and keep in mind what your preferences and priorities are within the constraints of your budget.

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Bring what you need to get to your ‘Happy Place’.

Think about what makes you relaxed and content when you’re not traveling and try to incorporate these while on your way. Perhaps it’s a notebook or journal, your comfiest sweatpants, or a playlist that instills calmness – whatever it is, think about what would take your travel experience to the next level and attempt to replicate. Make sure whatever makes you happy is accessible as well – it’s difficult to get the benefit from these if they’re in the cargo of the plane, for instance.

Be prepared with essentials.

Before heading off, I always fill up my iPhone with games and music that’s accessible offline as well as a few movies on my iPad to make the time pass quickly and enjoyably. Do not forget your headphones – everyone’s had the experience where a fellow passenger is talking loudly and incessantly about some infuriating topic – popping in your headphones and turning on a great song can instantly dissipate your annoyance and improve your mood. I also ensure that I have a good book on hand so that I can have another option, and I always find reading the best activity on a long or overnight journey where you want to doze off. Stock up on plenty of water and snacks as well – even if you think these will be available, it’s always best to be over-prepared as you never know if there will be issues or delays.

Keep your medicine cabinet nearby.

There’s nothing worse than a sudden onset of less than pleasant feelings while en route and not having anything at hand to alleviate your symptoms. On my travels I bring along every type of over-the-counter medication that I might need, including ibuprofen, anti-nausea pills, Imodium, allergy medicines, sinus relief, and lozenges for a sore throat. Keep these close as you never know when you’re going to need them.

Dress for comfort.

Being on a long haul journey and feeling uncomfortable with what you’re wearing is the absolute worst. You don’t want to have to keep fiddling with and adjusting what you’ve got on as you’re never going to fully relax and enjoy the ride. Go for your tried-and-true favourites – never wear something for the first time on a long trip – and focus on breathable, non-irritating fabrics, looser fitting clothing, and layers so that you can add and remove to feel most comfortable. I am usually on the colder side so I always bring along a large scarf to drape over myself if necessary.

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Pack light if possible.

When I made the transition to carry-on only travel a few years ago, I quickly noticed a positive change in my overall mood when traveling. No more was I hauling around my body weight in luggage, arriving at the train platform or bus terminal sore, exhausted, and drenched in sweat. With a small bag, it’s also far easier to find a spot to stow it, often close by so you can keep tabs on it – a great thing if you need something mid-journey or if there’s any risk of theft. And if you’re flying, getting off and not having to wait for bags is the ultimate feeling as you can get going immediately.

Have some preventative measures if you’re nervous.

This one is most applicable for flying, as it’s a travel method that makes many people uneasy. While I personally do not mind being up in the air – unless there’s intense turbulence – I’ve traveled with many friends that are on the nervousness spectrum from take off (or even well before in anticipation) until touch down. While there are many methods to calm your nerves and everyone’s different, think about what you need to make you comfortable whether it’s a meditation app on your phone, your favourite movie, or a well timed sleeping pill so you can nod off for the entire flight.

Know where you’re going when you arrive.

Even though I enjoy traveling, I will often become somewhat uneasy as the journey begins to come to and end when arriving in a new destination. I get nervous of what will come after I disembark – where is my accommodation? How do I get to the metro? How do I buy a ticket for the bus? Most of the time though, I’ve already tracked down the answers to these questions in advance so I’ll be well prepared when I arrive. So while I do feel momentarily concerned, I immediately relax once I remember that I have all of this sorted out already.

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Pay attention.

On trains or buses with multiple stops, it can be easy to miss your destination entirely, especially if it’s a long trip and you’re in a state of full relaxation from following the tips above. It’s going to be hard to doze off if you’re constantly concerned that you’re going to miss your stop. One trick that I’ve used to great effect on trains and buses when I’ve wanted to get some sleep is to set an alarm on my phone – quiet and/or vibrating so that it doesn’t disturb your fellow passengers – to go off a bit before you’re scheduled to arrive. Then you can have confidence that you’re not going to miss your destination.

Get into the travel mindset.

Just like an athlete getting psyched before a big match, put on your travel game face and get into the zone. Especially for longer trips, get mentally prepared for what’s ahead by prepping everything you need, getting up early the day of so that you’re in a sleepy state, and avoiding copious amounts of caffeine or alcohol so that you’re at your most mellow.

No matter how bad the journey, focus on how great it will be to arrive at your destination.

Whether you’re just venturing out, heading off to a new spot, or making your way home, there’s something exciting about what will come once you arrive. If you’re having a truly shit journey, keep thinking about all of the positive elements that are coming your way and remind yourself that the end justifies the mean.

That’s a wrap on my tips if you love to travel but hate traveling. Got any of your own?

Love to travel but hate traveling photos courtesy of StockSnap

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Lauren Barth co-founded Departful in 2012 and is the Managing Director of Departful Media. Since then she has worked between North America and Europe and has published content in partnership with a variety of tourism boards and businesses based around the world. Lauren is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

Departful is a full service travel agency for busy professionals seeking unique and transformative custom travel experiences. We create memorable holidays that are 100% tailored to our clients, saving them time and energy by handling all of the little details while providing value by leverage our expertise and network of travel partners. We are based in Toronto.


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Departful is a full service travel agency for busy professionals seeking unique and transformative custom travel experience. We create memorable holidays that are 100% tailored to our clients, saving them time & energy by handling all of the little details while providing value by leverage our expertise and network of travel partners. We are based in Toronto.

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Departful is affiliated with TravelOnly.

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ON, Canada N3R 3V6

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