Vacation is one of those activities most people typically look forward to. Haven't there been times you've waited all year long for your vacation? Anxiously anticipating the day you can hit the road, leave all your cares behind and enjoy a fabulous vacation?

As the big departure day gets closer, instead of getting excited, have you ever found yourself getting tense instead? If so, you aren't alone. Traveling can be a very stressful event with all that is often involved with planning and packing up. If you've run into previous difficulties either before or during your trip and the stress ended up dominating your last vacation, you may be wondering how you can avoid this unwelcome stress.

The answer is humor. Always pack humor when traveling.

Credit: stevepb via Pixabay

No matter how much planning you've done and how "ready" you are to take your trip, chances are something will inevitably go wrong at some point. The mishap or problem may be minor or significant but, either way, something is likely going to happen. When it does, if you can manage to smile, laugh and take heart that whatever has gone wrong will pass, it'll help get you through those rough moments.

Keep your chin up and focus on the journey, not the destination, and the mishap will feel easier to bear.

Car Trips

When I was in my early twenties, my fiancé and I, along with younger siblings, drove from New York to Wisconsin to attend a wedding. What an adventure. It started off full of excitement, but quickly went downhill from there. The siblings spent the hours bickering and poking at each other in the back seat. The stress in driving with all the fighting drove us to the point of taking out a roll of masking tape. Why you might wonder? To tape a line down the middle of the seat of course. (Yes, we did actually resort to this...)

New Jersey Highway
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Definitely don't leave your humor at home when taking a road trip. You'll probably need it more than once.

After a few threats of whoever crossed the line would end walking home via I-80, the bickering stopped and, after a while, everyone eventually burst out laughing. The reactions we all had towards one another ended up being pretty funny because once we realized the ridiculous things that were said and done, all involved realized how silly the issues being fought over actually were. Masking tape? What were we thinking!

Once Chicago loomed on the horizon, the trip improved and we made the wedding on time despite everyone wanting to throttle one another. The trip back was interesting because about three hours into the ride, we stopped at a rural country store for drinks. I opened my juice bottle, actually heard the seal pop, and discovered we had a hitchhiker.

Turns out a bug was lounging out doing the backstroke in my drink.  Was glad I spotted the bugger before I sipped it.  While I was a little freaked at the time, I couldn't help but giggle once the realization sunk in I hadn't actually eaten it. Fortunately, the four of us made it home without killing one another. For the rest of the trip, all we had to do was start cracking bug and tape jokes and we were merrily along our way home. Humor definitely brought us through that road trip.

Air Travels

When traveling by air it is always important to keep your humor intact because chances are you'll either be delayed or stuck on a crowded flight next to someone who's snoring or using your shoulder as a pillow.

Delays and cancellations are a given when traveling by air. It makes your travel less stressful if you accept the delays and cancellations with a grain of salt. Stressing and complaining about it won't help matters much or change a thing, but it is amazing how much inserting humor helps. Laughter is an incredible thing and it is remarkable how quickly things can be turned around once you look at things in comical way rather than a frustrating one.

Credit: Leigh Goessl

When my spouse was in the military, I found myself stranded in many an airport and caught up in all sorts of stress. There were numerous delays, a time I had to run as fast as I could across O'Hare (only to have them not hold my connecting flight as promised and let me stand there gazing at my plane that had not yet taken off) and the time I had to sit next to a creepy guy on the way to Florida who kept hitting on me.  Then there was the time my weekend luggage was lost and had to find a 24 hour Wal-Mart just to pick up at least a toothbrush and some clothes.

Initially, I used to really make myself uptight with worry, especially because I hadn't yet mastered my fear of flying, but finally decided this was ruining our weekend visits. Instead I started to focus on something funny I was seeing or I'd envision an amusing scenario while racing through a terminal or sitting stagnant on a runway. Visions of these types of crazy scenes flashed through my mind of the kinds of things that could go wrong.  My mishaps seemed pale in comparison.

The one good thing about air travel is fortunately it is fast and, before you know it, you'll be landing. Just think of all the great stories you can share with others later on about situations you encountered on your flight. It helps if you can manage to laugh it off.

Traveling by Train

Long train rides can be excruciating. One of the most stressful trips I'd ever taken was the time I had the crazy idea that it would be great fun to travel alone with two kids, ages 4 and 7, with a huge amount of baggage. This train trip was to head off to the Midwest. Twenty hours didn't seem like much, same as driving right? Not!

Amtrak train
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Taking two young children on an Amtrak train wasn't one of my better ideas.

You think I would have learned my lesson from that long car trip with the siblings years ago, but noooooo. Of course not.  It turned out five hours was too much because the train doesn't pull over, I had no control over the schedule and the kids were going bonkers with boredom being confined to the cars on the train. It didn't help matters much when the train stopped unexpectedly for what seemed like an eternity somewhere between Ohio and Buffalo, New York. Sleep-deprived, we finally made it to our destination.

Laughter is what got us through it. The three of us told jokes, goofed off and just acted silly. It entertained the kids and helped distract us from our plight. Before we knew it, we were chugging along again. And the train finally moved again too.

I'd never, ever embark upon such a long train ride with young kids ever again, but it is funny to look back on the worst idea I'd ever had for travel. Between the delays, bickering and racing through the Chicago train station desperately trying not to miss our connection, this trip was a tough one. Flying has its unique set of stresses, but I'd take those over long train trips with younger kids any day.

No trip every goes exactly as planned or anticipated and, if it does, it is a rare event. The best way to get through the trying times during your travels is to keep your chin up, smile with optimism, focus on the positive and keep laughing!

Don't forget, when you are packing your belongings for your trip, always remember to pack your laughter. You'll need it!

Women laughing
Credit: lavaki via Pixabay

Be sure to laugh when traveling, it's a stress breaker.