Getting Ready: Change Your Driving Habits

bangladesh traffic jam
Image: joiseyshowaa.

Wondering how you can begin to prepare for travel while you're still at home? It may be as simple as changing your driving habits. How you drive, especially under trying conditions, is likely a reflection of how you deal with stress in your travels. Do you freak out when you sit in a traffic jam? Chances are, you won't do well in a crowded marketplace. Do you curse when someone cuts you off? Don't even get near a line in Italy.

So what's a stress-prone traveler/driver to do? I've got three tips that will prepare you on for a more enjoyable, less anxious travel experience.

Training yourself to be a more relaxed traveler is as simple as driving to work. How, you may ask? By learning some good coping and relaxation strategies, you'll find yourself more relaxed, more courteous, and better prepared to handle the worst the world can throw at you.

  1. Practice Zen Driving.
  2. Instead of being a pushy driver and fighting for the best spot in the fast lane, drive like a trucker and give everyone some space. Truckers practice the habit of Zen driving, giving up space to passing motorists and, in turn, keeping traffic jams at bay. The lessons learned from Zen driving will equip you with good habits off the road. In your travels, you will be a better pedestrian, train rider, or a more considerate person. The next time you're on a trip, give up some space, help others get where they need, and everyone's better off.

  3. Smile.
  4. That's right. I said smile. When times get tough, tell that little angry voice in your head to shove it, and just smile. I do this when I feel my chest tightening and everything just melts away. I may look a little silly smiling to myself, but I'm in the privacy of my own car, so I don't care. If you've practiced this enough, you'll find yourself carrying this strategy everywhere you go. Just missed your train? No problem. Smile, and go find a place to chill out until the next one arrives. Big line at the airport? There's nothing you can do about it! Put on a grin and maybe it will spread.

  5. Can't smile? Breathe Deeply.
  6. Is smiling not doing the trick? Do some deep breathing. When all else fails, I fall back on some simple breathing exercises to release all my tension. There are some times when you need to relieve stress, but don't want to look uncomfortable (or goofy.) Deep breathing is an excellent, and practically invisible, way to clear your head and get yourself ready to tackle that next challenge.

The world isn't all open roads and green lights. Follow these tips, both in and out of the driver's seat, and your life's journey will be all the smoother.


Great picture of packed traffic. I assume this is Bangkok.