Relaxing pictures - Hammock

Sometimes life can feel like a little too much to deal with. You can’t handle your noisy neighbors, the not-even-a-single-bit-friendly boss stresses you out 24/7, your family doesn’t give you a break… Man or woman, young or old, at some point we all catch ourselves thinking about having a break from routine. When this happens, take it as life calling you up to remind you of how much more of the world there is outside of the daily grind.

Going away is more than a simple break from your daily tasks. Planning a trip opens your mind and fills your soul with anticipation. Usually, making a decision to go somewhere else starts when you feel overwhelmed with routine. To take the next step and actually leave is something that not everybody can do. The two most common excuses are no money and no time. However, when you spend just a little time planning and setting a budget, you can make a dream voyage a reality.

But making the decision to travel is not just about managing to finagle a few days off work. Once you land in a habitat different from your own, everything turns into something unique; even taking a bus is exciting. When I first got to the United States, I felt so lost. I thought I would never be able to finish my year as an exchange student. But here I am, in my second year, and with many stories to tell from my experiences. When you encounter a different environment, you become challenged, and you grow in a different way than you would in the life that you are used to. Going away is not just about learning new things. According to research, taking a break from routine increases quality of life and reduces the possibility of diseases such as depression and stress. When you work full time with no free time, you are at risk of anxiety and digestion problems, as well as ulcers, low immunity, and cardiovascular disease. Facing a stressful routine day in and day out, our bodies need a break so they can put themselves back together again.

Some tips for planning your getaway:

• Whether for a few days or a year, going away requires research. Where to go, where to sleep, what to budget, and in the case of going abroad, exactly how much of the language do you need to pick up? Winter is an especially good time to find good quality travel bookings for less. Once you have those things named, unexpected situations shouldn’t arise, at least not that often.

• Build your travel schedule according to the time you have; don’t try to see 20 different places if you only have a short amount of time. Usually, it’s best to plan for at least two or three days in the same place. The idea is to take a break from stress, not to come back from vacation more stressed than when you left. Some of this winter’s best travel destinations are either sunny and warm, like Miami, Tulum, Mexico, Barbados, or Bali, allowing you to forget that it’s winter for a while, or, like Québec City, Reykjavík, and Vail, Colorado, they take advantage of the season, with winter celebrations and beautiful snowy landscapes.

• Should you go it alone or bring a companion? Some people enjoy taking a break from friends as well as work and would prefer to travel alone. But others like traveling together to share stories and hotel rooms (and to try and get the other person to try the octopus tentacles first). That’s where the term “traveling companion” comes from. So if you’re one who likes company, you’d better try and convince a friend to take a break with you. Then you can start planning the practicalities.

• Another important thing to decide is whether to join a group excursion or to book something by yourself. There are endless agencies that can find you just what you want, but it’s also never been easier to travel on your own. With a group, you don’t have to worry about planning an itinerary, and on your own…you don’t have to worry about following an itinerary.

So have I convinced you to take some days off? Cool! Now start packing and have fun! Check out some low cost travel fares from airlines like Virgin Atlantic, or other inexpensive options.

Flavia Motta

Brazilian, journalist. Experience in magazine, website, politics and TV. Portuguese native and english, spanish and french speaker.

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