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How does it affect you?

First off, this is my 100th post which is sort of a miles stone for me. I look at the site and read many of the posts, but took me a couple of years to get # 100.
That said, I have been reading Lisa's (Rankster's) blog and all her pre trip info. When she left on her trip last week, she was already exhausted from all the trip preparation and all the things she had to finish before she left for almost a month in Europe. If you have read her blog at all, she was even more exhausted upon arrival, and that may have really caused her a couple health issues. My last trip was almost the same, as I had to work overtime several days before I left and never got much rest before the trip. I don't feel Lisa or I are any different from most who travel and post on this site.

Just wondered how pre trip stress and preparation might affect others. Does it have any affect on your first few days of your trip or do you have a way to just handle in in a better way? I'm planning my next trip now and will be in Paris 4 days (first time in Paris) before I do another tour. Paris is already stressing me out.

I am a buyer for a grocery company that serves about 600 customers and my job does create lots of extra work trying to take a couple days off, let alone, being gone 16 days. Lots of the lines I buy, like bread, milk, produce, and fresh meat have to be bought two or three times a week so I have to prepare and depend on someone else to do that while I am gone. Since I am still responsible for issues that might come up while gone, that adds stress also. I have never had a job where I could just take off and not worry about what I will return to. Guess that is why I only try to go to Europe every 4 or 5 years.
Just wondered how others handle all the pre trip stress, and work related problems.

Posted by
6335 posts

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I was never in a work position where there were stress and problems getting, or being, away for longer periods of time. Sometimes it's good to be a peon. Financially I wasn't able to travel much until I had been with the company long enough to rack up 4-5 weeks of vacation so there was no problem with last-minute items because I always took a couple of vacation days before I left for my trips.

But, that being said, I also had the normal preparation stress that most people have - getting the home ready, stopping deliveries, pets, plants, etc. etc. Best advice I was given was to make lists, lots of lists (this was before electronic spreadsheets). I have lists of what has to be done a week before leaving, what has to be done 2 days before, what has to be done the day before - nothing left for the last day except to get to the airport. I have lists of what to pack, what to wear the day of travel and I was always packed and ready to go by early evening the night before so could get a good night's sleep. Advance planning saved my a**.

Posted by
6717 posts

Often it is simply inevitable that, if you work much later right before the trip and you get less rest, you'll experience worse jetlag because you'll be compounding sleep deprivation on top of time change fatigue. Numerous times right before a trip, I got home at 9-10 pm and then had to pack, sometimes even had do laundry and ironing too, then answer e-mails the next morning, and then head to the airport. Of course, sleep on the plane was minimal and I was a zombie at my destination for at least the first full day. The other bad effects were physical back pain (from office and flight), irritability, and not being able to concentrate/impaired judgment.

If it weren't for keeping lists, I'm sure I would have forgotten to pack something last minute. Having one comprehensive to-do list which includes non-trip tasks and items to pack is very helpful to me. After a few trips, you can pretty much standardize such a list electronically (and use it over and over) because it doesn't change a lot - the same stuff needs to be completed before any trip.

The main advice I would give is to spread out the trip preparation so it's not done in the last day or two or even three. Print out and organize things at least a week in advance, even a little at a time. In other words, start knocking items off your to-do list as soon as you can, beginning with things that can be done earlier...leave the items that have to wait until last minute alone but try to minimize the number of such tasks as much as you can (sometimes you will not be able to, but do the best you can to control stress by stretching it out into smaller bits).

Posted by
8248 posts

I agree with Nancy and Agnes about list-making. I have a generic spreadsheet for 1 month out, 2 weeks, 1 week, 2 days, 24 hours. I customize it for each trip, mostly based on what non-recurring bills I might have coming up in my travel time frame (car insurance, Costco membership, etc). I pay everything ahead using online bill pay. I also have a packing spreadsheet and I start my packing process well ahead. I get all my toiletries and assorted other gear, guidebooks, maps, packing cubes etc staged by my suitcase ahead of time as well as organizing my purse/tote bag. About a week out I hang the clothes I am taking in a separate place and check to make sure everything is clean and in good repair and that I have everything that was on my packing list. I also hang separately the clothes I will wear in transit. I pack the day before and check things off my list as they go in the suitcase. I will have done a test pack a couple of weeks out.

If I have to take the 5AM flight out of my local airport, I will stay the night before in that city which is about an hours' drive. If it's the noon flight, then I plan to be on the road by 930 which will give me WAY too much time but less anxiety as it's a small airport so you really only need to be there an hour before flight time even with a bag check.

I am retired so I have plenty of time. When I have traveled with my brother and SIL who are still working they have both taken the day ahead off and really, that works so well. It really cuts down on the last minute stress. I just returned to international travel in 2013 after not having traveled internationally since the 80's but since I retired in 2011 I have not had to deal with working up to the last minute. However, like Nancy, in my last job I was a peon and that was good!

Still, even retired, if I did not have my lists, I would manage to stress myself out before travel. I do much better with jet lag if I do stick with my regular bed time and rising time in the days before I leave.

For me excitement = good, stress/anxiety = bad!!

Have a wonderful trip yourself!

Posted by
2728 posts

Toni, I, too, had (retired) a job that required a huge amount of overtime before leaving and then when I got back to make up for the lost time. No one worked my job while I was gone, unless there was a huge problem and that was not good, but it was what it was. I decided years ago that I had a right to my vacation. For this scenario, I'll assume I'm leaving on Saturday. All my overtime would be before Thursday. Thursday I left work 'about' on time. Friday, I prepared to leave about an hour early, which meant I left on time, but I had only small duties to attend to that might have cropped up. If there was a problem or a deadline that was not resolved, I just had to hand it over to someone else…tried not to have this but my job dealt with law and people so can't control it totally. Then I shut my work brain down. Periodically on vacation I might have a work gasp as something popped into my brain, but I resolved myself to 'poof' it away visually and went back to vacation. Somehow, one has to compartmentalize one's brain, and shut the work compartment down and resolve to deal with any issues that remain outstanding upon return. I also had to tell myself if I were fired because of a development while I was gone (never was, but one can be paranoid) then I'd deal with it at that time, not while on vacation. So again, my suggestion is to compartmentalize and plan as if you are leaving on Thursday night rather than Saturday to allow for the unforeseen. I also packed the weekend before (or earlier because I'm a packing freak). If you are worried about getting to your hotel when you arrive in Paris, google & google map the entire trip from transport to your hotel. You'll then know exactly how to get your ticket(s) and what the trip to the hotel looks like. Relax and have fun! Wray

Posted by
5979 posts

THere is good stress and bad stress. I don't find a European vacation to be relaxing - its stressful, but good stress. The job-related pre-trip stress doesn't impact my enjoyment of the trip.

Posted by
21 posts

I wish I'd read this thread earlier! I leave in a couple days, so what's done is done by now.

My job requires that I parcel out a million things that only I do before I leave. I now wish I'd been better about documenting them earlier, but at least the lists are ready for the next time.

I would add that if you have kids at home and you are the parent on whom everyone depends...start shifting some of that responsibility! I've been adding my spouse to school and sports-related email lists that, frankly, he should have been on from the beginning. This is not knocking him; I was the one who took on the task of sole household manager. At least I had the good sense to teach the kids how to run the washing machine. Whether they do it while I'm gone will not be my problem. :)

Posted by
206 posts

May have misled on my post about work. I don't worry about it after I leave for vacation but if there were any problems that came up while I am gone it usually comes back to me since I am responsible for the 1700 items that I buy. If I don't have enough product to cover sales while I'm gone, it is my problem even though I was 3500 miles away. That's just the way this business works. Every company is different, and some people can leave their desk and everything continues without a hitch. For those of you who work is a fast paced work place where everything you do depends on truck deliveries, customer orders, and other things that just happen, you know what I mean. I do try the list and that works good for me. Being able to rest and relax a day or two before my trip, well that just does not happen.

Posted by
12501 posts

Tony, I absolutely understand about the job stress; trying to get out of the office with my VERY heavy workload covered was a nightmare. Whether a hired sub, manager or office mate was assigned to handle it, it was hours and hours of OT documenting everything for them for the turnover meeting. Add to that the clients who ignored deadlines set so that decisions could be made/work accomplished before I left? Nothing like having them all suddenly show up in my office at 8:00 PM the night before the flight! No amount of pro-active safeguards made any difference so the only thing I could control was prep for the trip itself.

I learned to start organizing/packing well in advance so I only had to do a little bit every day. I also dedicate a corner to be a 'staging area' where things that need to go into the suitcases can collect as I think about them.

The other thing which helped was to plan longer versus shorter stays in one place. It's a lot less time-consuming to have to research fewer locations in one country than a lot of moves in the same or multiple countries. Being able to get there, unpack and settle in - especially at the first location on the itinerary - really helps us start to relax sooner rather than later. Learning the transport systems and customs for just a couple of locations was also a lot less work.

But please don't worry about Paris!!! Paris is not difficult; trust me on this. It is a wonderful city to walk, English is not a problem, and the metro is easy to use once you do it once or twice. I say this as an individual who tends to stress a lot over transport stuff so if I figured it out, you certainly will! And prioritize your sightseeing list! You cannot do or see everything in 4 days, and will be exhausted if you try. Put the handful of things that matter the very MOST at the top of the list and be willing to forego the rest lest you become too over-scheduled and tired to have a good time. The minute that starts to happen, find a cafe in a lovely spot and just SIT DOWN! People and scenery-watching is all part of the fun and never a waste of time on vacation :O)

Posted by
2788 posts

I remember working with a fellow who thought that office would have to shut down if he missed a days work so he did not take vacation and came in sick.. Well, he finally retired and guess what, they did not replace him. We all need to remember that everything will continue to go on even if we were to die and not come back to work. Relax and enjoy your vacation. Happy travels.

Posted by
885 posts

Like others have said, I make a lot of lists. I am not going on my next trip until September, and I already have lists prepared starting with what to do 3 months out, 2 months, then it gets down to weeks, and then days. I try to plan to have everything done a few days before I leave other than the things that can't be packed until the morning I leave so that I can rest as much as my excitement will allow the days before my trip. I also start planning at work a few months ahead to make sure I don't schedule projects that will be do before my trip, and I try to deal with as much of the work stress as possible the week before my last week. I get done as much work as I can ahead of time. Emergencies will be handled for me while I am out, but the other work will pile up until I return, and I just don't let that stress me. So basically I use lists and try to have everything at home and work done a week or so before I leave so that the big stress isn't in the last days before I leave.

Posted by
16860 posts

I would say that most staff here, especially if preparing to leave for a month as a tour guide or guidebook researcher in Europe, is plenty stressed beforehand, resulting in dreams about missing airplanes, showing up to work in your pajamas, etc. But once there, I am able to forget home stresses and live in the moment.

Taking care of your list items as early as possible will certainly help. With the convenience of the internet, you can now cancel the mail and newspaper online as soon as you think about it, no need to call. A classic Rick tip is to plan from the start as if you're leaving two days earlier. I used to think the advice said to lie to your employer as well, but I might have imagined that.

Someday, I might complete my packing earlier than the night before, but one convenience I do have is duplicates of some last-minute items. For instance, I have separate toothbrush, hairbrush, makeup, and prescription meds already packed, so I don't have to remember to throw those in at the last minute.

Posted by
3696 posts

I am self employed, so the 'job responsibilities' are never too far from my mind. So, even though it is often difficult I would never give up my travel because I felt a job could not do without me.... amazing how it all still functions without us sometimes. However while I do try to make sure things are taken care of before I leave, I will spend more time doing that than I will planning details of my trip. I often will wing it, and even if I do make plans ahead it is usually little more than my flights, some hotels (in big cities) and my rental car. Some of the hour by hour detailed lists I see here exhaust me just reading them, let alone planning them, and then trying to execute such agendas. I am happier figuring out much of what I want to do when I arrive...I usually pack quite simply, and often the night before. Some people love all the detailed preplanning and for others it is stressful and exhausting. I want to be happy going to Europe, not make it into another job! It's my vacation!

Posted by
2790 posts

I am making my 9th trip to Europe in June. We also travel often in the U.S. and
used to travel to other states to visit parents. I have duplicates of all toiletries, hairbrush, glasses(pair used immediately preceeding current ones), prescription and over the counter drugs, underwear and socks, passport; etc that stay permanently packed. I replace as necessary immediately when I get back from a trip. I list additional items to pack on my "work in progress" itinerary. I also have certain clothes I only wear on trips that I can pack ahead of time. I also pack pet supplies a week in advance. And I do have master packing lists for different locations-city vs. beach vs. road trip to beach house vs. 3rd world vs. camping.

Posted by
10344 posts

If you don't live in Europe, or at least the east coast of N. America--then Europe travel is hard physically and financially. You have to be motivated to endure the hardship. There are many who aren't, and they go to America's national parks on vacation, not Europe.
I try to do both. But the European trips aren't getting any easier.
If you have enough money and enough health, these are not issues for you. But I can feel the pain of those for whom European travel is hard.

Posted by
14326 posts

I was lucky that I never had a job I couldn't take time from to travel between busy times, but I know people in that position. A good friend spent 3-4 hours on the phone almost daily with co-workers over a week's stay in Paris. There just are cases when you can't turn your back on a job, at least not if you want to have it when you return.

My advice is like others (and what I do, even though I'm retired now): Lists (detailed lists) of what to do before the trip, at home and at work, what to pack, and also what needs to be done on return (you don't want to spend your last days on vacation worrying about whether you remember all the things that need to be done when you get home). Early preparations - especially packing but also printing documents, making photocopies, anything you can do sooner than later.

And as others have said, do not stress about Paris. The best thing to do there is relax, walk, sit at a cafe, soak it all up.

Posted by
3478 posts

As many other have suggested, make a list!! And once an item is checked off, forget it. If you are the second guessing worrying type, take the list with you. Then when you wonder if such and such was done, just look for the check mark.

Posted by
1437 posts

Two tips not already mentioned:

1) Work - DH and I both do this: We tell everyone 'outside' that our last work day is one day earlier and our return date is one day later than the actual dates. This cuts down on the outside calls, e-mails and issues that plague us at the last minute and allows for a bit of breathing room on the return to catch up.

2) Packing - a couple of weeks before departure, I appropriate a laundry basket that I park in the living room. As I use or stumble upon them, I start tossing and stashing random items from my packing list. I'll also spend a bit of free time hunting down sub-sets from my packing list to toss into the basket or place in the staging area.

The last full week-end before I am due to leave, I pack. I only strike an item off the list once it is actually in the suitcase - not while it is gathered in the basket or staging area. The laundry basket avoids me running around trying to find every doodad, as I'm trying to organize stuff between the carry-on and the checked bag.

I go back to the packing list just before leaving for the airport - there's always an item or three that has to go in last...

Posted by
3768 posts

For less stress regarding work: I tell my manager and staff early in the year that I'll be gone for 2-3 weeks in the Fall and completely unavailable while gone. I'm preparing them months ahead of coverage needed, etc. so that everyone's on the same page when I leave. And, I do not bring my phone with me or ipad, etc. When I board the plane, I AM on vacation.

On the other hand, my husband sells real estate, so he isn't able to leave his phone & computer at home. He plans coverage, but he's also checking in to ensure his customers are receiving what they need.

Because of the above situations, I take more of the pre-planning, itinerary plans, etc. My husband's able to not worry about where we're staying, activities, train tickets. etc. - I'm covering all of those reservations, paperwork, etc. He only needs to pack and step into the Shuttle Express the day we leave.

I use my same packing list each year with only slight modifications per location, so I could pack in 5 minutes, if needed. I also use the same checklist for being gone from our home each time, so that's easier.

Paris is wonderful! Pick up the RS Pocket Paris book, and you can enjoy browsing through the possibilities. The Metro is easy, the cafes are wonderful - just enjoy whatever you're doing!

Posted by
206 posts

Jean, I try to do a lot of that also but does not always work... I am leaving Sun for a 3 day meeting and have had to do most of next weeks work in advance. Had to do purchase orders for others to fax or e-mail while I'm gone. Main problem is I don't trust some of the others to order the products I buy. When you buy fresh meat, bread, milk, produce and lots of other lines, one mistake can either mean shortages to the stores or out of date products. I'm still planning on 17 days next fall but dread trying to get everything done in advance, and still depend on a couple others. When I leave, I will not be in touch with anyone at work for the entire time and I know there will be problems, but I don't worry about it while gone. First few days back are like days from hell.
I do have the Paris book from Rick and have really studied it. I have several hotels picked that I like and several places to eat that I want to try. Still up in the air if I go alone or have a travel partner, but either way is fine.

Anyone remember the commercial on tv regarding financial peace? It was of a guy walking down the steps in his home with a small bag. He stops and throws a dart at a map of the world. When the dart hits the map, he says; "better get a sweater." That would be a wonderful way to travel.