Everybody needs a vacation. Here’s how to take the stress out of the entire process, from the moment you start planning to the minute you land at your dream destination.

Book seven weeks ahead. This is usually when fares are at their lowest (though for international travel it is typically 11 or so weeks out). Click “buy” before or after that time, and you’re likely to spend more. The exception? If you’re traveling to a destination event like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, book as early as possible.

Plan for eight days. A Dutch study found that feelings of health and well-being peak after just more than a week away. Push to include the weekends on each end of your vacation week to get the biggest benefit from your break.

Set aside 15 percent. Are you on a set budget for your trip? Before you commit to many plans, set aside at least 15 percent of your budget for incidental expenses like cab rides and discounted upgrades. That way you won’t worry about costs later, and you’ll stay on budget.

Take some melatonin. A study from Greece found that the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin can help your body adjust to your destination’s time zone. If you’re traveling across six or fewer time zones, get a jump on adjusting by taking a 5 mg dose the day before your trip when it’s 10:00 p.m. in your destination city. Hopping more than seven time zones? Start dosing three days before your trip.


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From the publishers of Men’s Health