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story.lead_photo.caption Packing less and planning less could actually make a trip less stressful and more relaxing, one traveler suggests. - Photo by LARS LEETARU/The New York Times

I travel a lot. I spend months every year living and working around the world. I've also fine-tuned my process so that I feel as comfortable on the road as I do at home.

But it wasn't always this way. Like most people, I used to take once-a-year vacations, with a massive suitcase and a rigid itinerary, hopping from hotel to hotel stressed out over train connections and tour reservations.

It was all unnecessary stress on the two weeks a year I was supposed to be relaxing. So while working for years as a digital nomad, I've figured out a few ways to minimize that stress. Here are a few of them.

Pack less

I've spent 41/2 months away from home with a backpack barely larger than a carry-on suitcase. I've met men and women who pack far less (most of my luggage bulk is work related). If you're gone for more than a week, budget a few hours to do laundry, or a few dollars to pay for a laundry service. Being more mobile is wonderfully freeing. If you're not sure what to leave behind, we have some suggestions.

Plan less

This is another seemingly counterintuitive tip, but if you plan less, you'll be less stressed. Sure, having a per-second itinerary may seem like a gift for your future vacation self, but once there you're going to feel rushed and anxious about making your next stop.

Sure, keep a list of things you want to do, but allow for lots of flexibility. You're not going to see everything, so enjoy what you can and don't rush. Less planning allows you to stay longer in spots you like, and leave early from places you don't.

Slow down

This is a hard one. It may come across preachy and I'm sorry, but cramming 15 cities into 14 days is going to make you miserable. I try to spend at least three days in each place. That gives you enough time to get the feel and decide if you want to stay, or go somewhere else. Everyone has a best pace, but if you're changing accommodations every other day, you're going to be exhausted.

Keep your phone working

Turn off your work email and notifications, but keep your Internet access. Google Maps, Google Translate, travel booking sites, plus messenger apps to keep in touch with people at home will all be at your fingertips.

If you have Sprint, T-Mobile, or Google Fi, your phone will probably work outside the United States much as it does at home. AT&T and Verizon may not, and can be expensive to use outside the United States. For tips to make the transition seamless, check out this guide to using your phone overseas at Wirecutter.

Install the right apps

I only have a handful of what I would call "travel" apps that I can't do without. Google Maps and Translate are obvious ones. Both also largely work offline, if you download certain content ahead of time.

Booking apps like Booking, Orbitz, Hostelworld, and so on are handy, too. One very useful service is Rome2Rio. The app can help you get virtually anywhere from anywhere, by whatever means available: bus, ferry, train or airplane. It offers a far more complete look at available travel options and their costs than even Google Maps. When you're trying to get from Thessaloniki to Dubrovnik or from Hakodate to Nagano, it's invaluable.

Travel on 02/17/2019

Print Headline: On vacation, leave stress back home

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