Planned Holiday Coming Up? These 5 Hacks Will Ensure It’s Stress-Free

There’s an exact science to making sure your next holiday break doesn’t leave you broken.



These simple numbers and amounts will help you prepare for your next big adventure. It’s easier than you think to have a stress-free holiday.

49 Days

Amount of lead time you need to snag a good domestic airfare.

Fares hit lows around seven weeks before you fly, reports cheapair.com. For travel abroad, the sweet spot is 8011 days out. “Most airlines begin selling tickets 11 months before a flight but don’t seriously discount until you’re within four months,” says cheapair.com CEO Jeff Klee. “So booking too early is often as bad as booking too late.”

The exception: if you’re planning a getaway around a holiday or a massive destination event, like the Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro or New Year’s Eve in New York City, book your trip as early as possible.

Related: Don’t Leave Home Without These 10 Travel Essentials

8 Days

Minimum amount of time you need to block out for a real holiday.

It’ll take you that long to completely unwind, according to a Dutch study. The researchers found that people’s reported feelings of health and well-being peaked just after a week away, when they’d fully transitioned out of work mode. And while you’re away, you can increase your happiness even more by allowing yourself time for serious relaxation. Low-key activities, such as reading in a hammock or lounging in a jacuzzi, were most strongly linked to improved mood, energy and stress levels – and the benefits lasted beyond the holiday.

15%

Portion of your budget you should set aside for unexpected costs

Let’s say you have R15 000 to spend on your trip. After booking transit, lodging and excursions – plus budgeting for meals and souvenirs – you should have just over R2 000 left. Unforeseen expenses do come up, says Matt Kepnes (@nomadicmatt) – author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. You may need a R600 cab ride to reach your abseiling destination or find that an extra R400 will upgrade you to a suite with a balcony and a view. Budget now, and you’ll avoid stressing in the moment.

Related: The Simple, Genius Way to Be Smarter With Your Money

5 Milligrams

Dosage of melatonin to take the day before you cross time zones.

Conquer jet lag with melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. Taken as a supplement, melatonin can help your body sync with the light-dark cycle at your destination, according to a Greek study. If you’re travelling across six or fewer time zones, take one dose the day before your trip when it’s about 10pm in your arrival city. If you’re crossing seven or more zones, take a dose daily for up to three days before flying. Once en route, avoid caffeine and eat only when it’s mealtime at your destination.

Related: The 5 Best Adventures In South Africa’s Wildest Places That You Have To Try This Year

2 Events

Maximum number of excursions to plan for each day away.

The guy who travels with a full itinerary and a guidebook stuffed into his moonbag isn’t really experiencing his holiday. He’s just ticking tourist traps off his list.

“If you plan every second, you’ll be stressed,” says Kepnes. “Travel is about the unknown.” That means exploring when you stumble upon something interesting, and relaxing when you find a lunch cafe you wish you could bring home with you. So don’t plan out more than half of each day – a couple of two-hour activities or a single four-hour activity is plenty.

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