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March 7, 2017

How to Avoid Fighting While on Vacation

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March Break is upon us which means that some of the busiest travel days of the year are just around the corner. And though vacations are supposed to be relaxing, many couples find that relationship strife spikes while they’re on holiday. Jess joined Jeff McArthur to discuss the science of vacation fights and tips for enjoying a harmonious holiday. Watch The Global Morning Show segment replay below.

The Science of Vacation Fights:

  • In airports, cortisol levels spike due to the stress and some research suggests that the noise of airports alone is tied to elevated levels of the stress hormone.
  • When travelling, long lines and unpredictable wait times can exhaust your self-control “muscle”. You only have so much self-control and when this muscle becomes burnt out, you may not have any strength left for your partner.
  • Research suggests that 1/4 of travellers find airports as stressful as moving! One-quarter consider airport travel as stressful as work.
  • While on vacation, couples are faced with overexposure; you’re not used to being together 24/7, so it can take a few days (or longer) to adjust and by that time, you may be on your way home!
  • Unfamiliar surroundings can also cause a spike in cortisol levels which are anticipatory; your body doesn’t know what to expect, so it prepares for the worst.
  • Exhaustion (you want to rock and roll all night and party every day right?), diet changes (hello daiquiris!) and a change of routine (e.g. skipping your workouts) can also adversely affect mood and the ability to regulate emotions.

Tips to Avoid Fighting While on Vacation:

  • Plan for your airport trips by packing healthy (non-liquid snacks). A few oranges, bananas, protein bars or crackers and cheese will ensure you don’t snap at one another in the heat of a “hangry” moment.
  • If you’re taking a road trip, don’t have a driver and a navigator — let an app like Waze be your navigator. No one has to stop (or refuse to stop) for directions anymore.
  • Bring music – this is the #1 way to relax for many travellers.
  • Arrive early to the airport or train station to reduce the stress associated with the potential of missing a flight/train.
  • Underpack. Burdening yourself with extra luggage can be stressful and cause friction. Pack your suitcase (yes – one suitcase) and then try to remove at least 20% of your personal items.
  • Use an app to relax as soon as you board the plane. Check out the Calm app which helps with relaxation and meditation.
  • Surprise your partner with a little treat, snack or thoughtful gift (e.g. a new pair of underwear, a tiny box of chocolates). They won’t be expecting it and it will help to calm them down in the heat of airport/travel stress.
  • Be affectionate — especially when you don’t want to. Give your partner a hug in the security a line or kiss them while waiting in line to board the plane.
  • Once you board the plane (or while sitting at a stoplight if you’re driving), take their hand and give them a relaxing massage for 60 seconds to help them relax and promote physical connection.
  • Share in the planning. Although one partner is more likely drawn to planning, sharing in the task (80/20 will do as usual) will help to alleviate the pressure and reduce the risk of resentment.
  • For more info, check out my Healthy Travel Tips on the Desire Resorts blog!