6 Tips to Planning a Stress-Free Vacation

A vacation should be relaxing.  It’s a time to escape the stress of everyday life and recharge.  As relaxing as the idea of going out of town can be, a few unplanned incidences can turn any trip into an overwhelming situation for all involved. In this week’s post I’ll share with you a few vacation planning tips that we used to plan our honeymoon.  Follow these tips to keep your vacation not only memorable, but most importantly, stress-free.



Travel has always been a passion of mine.  When I met my husband, I was on my second passport.  I ran out of pages in my original passport from having traveled to 26 countries on 4 continents.  Our honeymoon would be the first stamp in my husband’s passport.  Together we created a short list: Greece, Italy, Spain, and Australia.  Since this would be his first trip out of the country, we decided that he would get to pick our destination.


At one point in my career, I traveled 80% – both domestic and international.  Whether I was traveling for business or pleasure, I would share my adventures with my three nieces since they were quite young.   In their eyes, my office was anywhere in the world.  I originally created this map of our itinerary for them, yet it proved to be beneficial not only during the planning process but during our trip.

Planning Benefits:

  • Gain perspective on the size of the country
  • Aid in the estimation of travel time between cities
  • A fun and convenient way to share our itinerary with friends and family
  • Determining the mode of transportation given the amount of time and distance

honeymoon map

SmartDraw Tip: Navigate to the Maps category, select the appropriate option.  The images used to note various activities were all found in the Symbol Library. 


International travel is becoming increasingly common, as technology opens the door to a more connected world.  This presents travelers with both advantages and disadvantages. While all the information needed to travel safely can easily be accessed from a smartphone, a forgotten charger or intermittent internet access can spell disaster.  Below is the first of a two-page comprehensive itinerary of our vacation.

Items to Include:

  • Time conversion table enables recipients of the itinerary to be mindful of the local time
  • Details of accommodations such as name of hotel property, address, and main phone number
  • Planned methods of travel to and from airports
  • Estimated travel times between airports and hotels
  • Airport codes, flight carriers, and flight numbers
  • Check-in and check-out dates

Travel Abroad Tip:

During my travels to South Africa, Zambia, Thailand, and Cambodia, I along with my travel partners enrolled in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  The Department of State urges U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll. You’ll receive important safety and security announcements.  Enrolling will also make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact you in the event of an emergency.  Below is the type of information requested for enrollment.

Honeymoon Detailed Itinerary_pg1

SmartDraw Tip:  Navigate to the Popular Category.  In the Preview Screen, select the Manual Diagram template.  In the Ribbon, select the Table Tab.  Click the Table control.  The Table will appear in the Work Area.  


My love for travel is based on my thirst to explore and try new things.  With our wedding in May and our honeymoon in the November, we were able to do some online research on Australia.  I remember my college days of backpacking trips through Europe using travel guidebooks and cyber cafes that charged by the minute.  Today, our smartphones enable us to check-in to flights, make video calls, and receive restaurant recommendations based on our location.

Travel Guide Sites:

Favorite Travel Apps:


Sharing expectations with your travel partner(s) is key to planning a stress-free vacation.  My husband and I agreed that when we landed in Australia, we didn’t want to do anything but enjoy our honeymoon.  Here are two versions of our honeymoon plans tailored to each of our individual needs.

Our Vacation At-a-Glance Diagram includes:

  1. Dates and Cities
  2. Departure/Arrival Times and Airport Codes (yellow highlight)
  3. Open or Unplanned Times (grey highlight)

our honeymoon overview1.10.5

SmartDraw Tip: Navigate to the Popular Category, select the Mind Map Template.  To add a Table to an existing Mind Map, navigate to the Ribbon.  Select the Table Tab.  Click the Table Control.  Click and drag the Table to the Mind Map in the Work Area.  The Table will snap onto the existing Mind Map.  

Our Vacation Activities Diagram includes:

  1. Dates and Cities
  2. Departure/Arrival Times and Airport Codes (yellow highlight)
  3. Open or Unplanned Times (grey highlight)
  4. Tour & Activity Confirmation Codes and Vendors
  5. Hotel Transfers for Each Tour & Activity
  6. Meal Information
our honeymoon activity overview.10.29
 SmartDraw Tip: This diagram originated from the previous Mind Map.  In order to add further details additional columns were added to each of the Tables.


I felt that I could trust the time and energy put into planning our vacation.  When we went to the office of our phone carrier, I opted out of getting an international phone and data plan.  In other words, I decided to remain “unplugged.”  Not one moment was spent taking photos to post on Facebook or to tweet the events of the day.  It was just the two of us on our honeymoon . . . living in the moment.  It was wonderful.