Traveling helps heal the soul. It helps ignite a fire in us we didn’t know we had. It helps quench our thirst for new experiences. For many of us, it’s a therapy in itself.
Along with travel comes many stressors, unpredictable moments, and many things that are simply out of your control. You may be around numerous people for an extended amount of time and not get much “me” time. You might get out of your normal workout, yoga, meditation routine. All of these things can slowly chip away until you’re no longer enjoying yourself at full capacity.
Personal self-care is an action (or actions) that one takes in order to reach optimal physical and mental health. It can also refer to activities that an someone engages in to relax or attain emotional well-being. When traveling, how much time do you really take for you?
You might argue that traveling is for you. You would be correct. BUT – that doesn’t mean that your brain/body is in sync.
Scenario: I spent almost 3 weeks traveling through Europe this summer with my partner. We spent about 3 days in each city, including the traveling days. So each day was jam packed, or spent traveling, or jam packed site seeing and traveling. We woke up early to start adventures and lasted until late at night, just to do it again the next day. Yes, it’s amazing -but for me, it takes a toll mentally.
I like to spend some time alone everyday. Even when I resume normal life, I want a small chunk of time just to myself. That’s so hard to do while traveling, especially if you’re with someone else or even a group. Mix that with the mobs of tourist you’re fighting everyday, it really adds up.
My solution: I send my partner off to do his own thing (usually a soccer game) while I take the few hours for myself. Maybe I might take a stroll on my own time with my own thoughts, but not typically. More often than not I am in the room we’re staying at enjoying myself with a book, a nap, or even TV. These few hours alone doing what I need to recharge myself so I can enjoy 100% of my adventures and also be a good travel partner.
How do you take care of yourself while traveling? If you’re like me, you feel guilty because you have this amazing opportunity and you’re not seizing every moment of it. You don’t want to let your traveling partner(s) down. You’re afraid you’ll miss out on something.
Are you really enjoying your adventures at 100% if you’re not taking care of yourself? NO!
1) DON’T LET GO OF YOUR “NORMAL” SELF-CARE ROUTINE
Are you used to running/exercising everyday and your body isn’t responding well to the change? Multi-task with outdoor exercise. Head to a park to get a quick workout in while exploring that area. Go for a run and take in the new sites around you. Your body thrives from routine and consistency. Don’t let it mess with the rest of your physical, emotional, and mental being – even if it’s just 10-15 minutes a day.
Same goes for yoga, meditation, journaling, sketching, hot baths – whatever it is. Don’t abandon that just because you’re distanced from what usually drives you for “calm down activities.” Stick with your routine, even if it’s modified.
2) TAKE TIME TO YOURSELF
Like I said in my solution to my scenario above, take time to “do you.” When I first started taking a few hours to do what I wanted to do, it helped my overall travel experience. Not only did it help me enjoy myself, it made me a better travel partner. It doesn’t do anybody good if I’m crabby and moody because I need to recharge from the energy I lose by being around people.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend half your travel budget on something. Splurge and indulge however that looks like to you. Maybe you order that dessert. Maybe you decide to get a pedicure. Or take a tour away from your group. Partake in at least one activity that you wouldn’t normally so you can treat yourself, even while you’re treating yourself.
4) SLEEP IN
You’re expending a lot of energy all day. Not only are you probably constantly moving, you’re navigating new and unfamiliar surroundings. And if you’re like me, all of the crowds and people surrounding you all day sucks the energy right out of you. There’s no use in dragging yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn everyday just so you can get in a few extra sites if you’re going to be like a 3 year old without a nap about 2pm.
5) DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO
Don’t spend time going to attractions/sites/places that you know nothing about just because it’s on every list of the “Must See Place in [Insert Destination Here]!” You’ll get your photo opp and then in a year or two when you’re looking at the picture, you’ll think, “What the hell that? And why did I take 28 pictures of it?”
Instead, research places you want to see or a class or tour that interests you. It doesn’t have to be the oldest landmark in the city or the tour that you have to book 3 months out. If it interests you, do it.
I know that when I’m just going from old building to old building that I know nothing about, it gets repetitive and boring. Then I end up not wanting to go out for the day because I know nothing about the history of the ground I’m walking on. Obviously do your research and know where you’re traveling.
6) SLOW DOWN
Seriously. Don’t run yourself to the ground trying to see everything. Don’t try to see 15 cities in 15 days. Take a few days to slow down and really experience the culture and see the sites. If you’re running to a new city everyday, you’re going to be many things. 1) exhausted, 2) burnt out, 3) unable to remember the whirlwind you just put yourself through. I’ve found that I’d rather cut a city or two out and spend an extra day or two in another place so I can appreciate where I’m at.
7) SIP YOUR MORNING COFFEE
Take a moment in the morning to reflect. Sip your coffee, tea, or beverage of choice. Take in the environment around you. Accept the calm that comes with those first few moments of the day.
8) HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE FAMILIAR
Especially if you’re traveling for a long time or if you’re solo. Sometimes you get homesick and that’s totally OK! Send a message home or have a video call. Touch base with someone familiar so you can regroup and fill that part of your heart. If you have a friend that is close to where you’re traveling, try to meet up. You still need some normalcy in your life for you to balance your emotions.
9) TRY TO BALANCE YOUR EATING HABITS
I’ll be the first to admit that when I travel, my eating goes to shit. I will try all the foods regardless of if I’m hungry. I stop eating fruits and veggies like I normally do and dessert is a regular indulgence. By the end of a trip, my body is craving healthy food. All of the junk that’s being eaten can impact your body and mind. Try to keep it balanced to stay sharp and focused, as well as feel less sluggish.
|| RELATED: A Must-Eat Restaurant
in Denver, CO – Butcher’s Bistro ||
10) BE COGNIZANT OF YOUR WHAT YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU
If you need to rest for half a day, rest for half a day. If you need to take in a couple shows or sit-down tours because you can’t handle another 10 miles of walking, do it. If you need to leave your tour/group behind to soak in a bath with maybe some Netflix on your iPad, have at it. You can’t fully enjoy your surroundings if you’re body is screaming at you for something. Listen to its’ message – you’ll benefit from it later.
I polled some bloggers to see what they’re “go to” self-care routine is while traveling. Here are a few responses:
Sarah at Suitcase Six said she makes sure to add some activities that require physical activity, like hiking or walking, instead of taking public transportation because exercise always makes her feel better.
KB at Her Life in Ruins says to pack an essential oil of a calming scent. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, put some on your wrists or the collar of your shirt so you can take in deep breaths of the aromatherapy.
These are just a few ways I like to practice and maintain my self-care while traveling. Traveling is stressful, but we don’t need to be miserable. Taking time for yourself to focus on your mental, physical, and emotional health will enrich your traveling experience. Don’t feel guilty for taking some “me time.”
Comment below with some of your favorite ways to practice self-care while traveling!
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