Feeling exhausted, uninspired, and stressed? Making time to step away from the mundane to travel is an act of self-care on its own. But what about keeping up with self-care while you’re traveling?
Whether you’re planning for a long-awaited vacation or you’ve made a lifestyle out of traveling, making the time for self-care while exploring the world can change the quality of your journey (and life) in unimaginable ways. Yes, part of self-care while traveling includes making sure you indulge in all the deliciousness of local cuisine, dishing out a few extra bucks for a massage or tickets to that last minute show, but true self-care goes so much deeper than that. It’s something that I am super mindful about when I’m traveling so I can have the best experience possible.
Self-care means taking an active role in your well-being and happiness, especially during periods of stress. Unexpected things can happen while traveling, but being mindful about self-care helps remind us that there are things that we can control, even in unfamiliar places. We might get lost, not enjoy an experience, or unfortunate events could take over. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of yourself mentally, spiritually, and physically in times of need.
So, without further ado, I’ve listed seven ways to practice self-care while traveling:
1) Practice being intentional and in the moment
To be intentional means genuinely living in the present moment. Concentrate on what’s happening in the here and now instead of focusing on things happening at home or at work. You don’t realize how much you miss by spending precious travel time with a restless or wandering mind that isn’t fully present. Don’t worry about pending job tasks, an upcoming quarter/midlife crisis, or if you’ll get that text back when you reconnect to the internet. This also includes taking a break from taking photos for social media.
I bet you’re laughing because I am a photographer and it’s sooooo easy for me to get caught up in taking photos and chasing after the sunlight. But sometimes, I have this feeling where my heart isn’t in it for a moment. That’s my body telling me to chill out, and just enjoy the present. I take a deep breath and observe the view. I observe what’s happening and try to learn about how the people are, or what the history is. I follow every scent and listen to the noises that make that location unique. Essentially, I focus on things that I know I can’t enjoy if I was to leave that moment.
Instead of focusing on the outside world, make a conscious effort to shift your focus inward. Be in tune with all five of your senses by recognizing in each moment how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and by noticing the sights, smells, and sounds around you. Take it all in.
2) Ditch your phone
Technology is both a blessing and a curse. It’s convenient to stay connected wherever you are in the word, but it can also serve as a significant distraction. Travel is not the time to see the world through your phone screen, so consider deleting social media apps for the time being. We miss out on a lot when we’re preoccupied documenting our journeys on Instagram for “likes” rather than our own experience.
Consider turning the data off on your phone while exploring, then post your pictures and videos later when you have some downtime. This is something I love to do when I travel. When I was driving around Iceland, though I had portable wifi for emergency cases – I was really traveling with no data at all. I felt so removed from the world and I felt a euphoric feeling I’ve never felt before. Later that night, I would reconnect and be able to check in on loved ones and talk to others about my adventures (and blow up everyone’s feed with my photos).
The benefit of time zones is that you can enjoy life happily across the world, while all your friends and family are still sleeping! Practice that experience and carry that with you throughout the day! Traveling is such a great time to practice moderation with technology, allowing yourself only the time you need to connect with others and using the rest of your time to fully immerse yourself in your experience.
3) Pack intentionally
Packing for a trip with a focus on self-care is all about staying happy, healthy, and safe. It’s important not to break your personal care routine while traveling so remember to pack the medications you take daily, like your prescribed birth control, and try to take them at the same time you normally do at home. Don’t forget to factor in time zone changes!
If your personal care routine typically includes a refreshing shower every morning or night, then consider packing hand-sanitizer and moist towelettes to give your body the same fresh feeling during your travels when a shower isn’t readily available. While packing, you may also want to include supplements like melatonin vitamins for difficulty sleeping, and vitamin-C packets like Airborne or Emergen-C for immune defense against all of the germs encountered while traveling. Your body will thank you.
Ladies, check on your destination of choice and menstruation options! Where do they sell them, how easily accessible are they? Consider packing other alternatives such as a diva cup if possible! Your time of the month may be an obstacle while traveling but get ahead of it and you won’t even know it’s there!
4) Let go of any guilt
We’ve all been there — spending more money on vacation than we should and then feeling some intense buyer’s remorse on the way home. The best way to prevent this sense of guilt is to budget. Take out all of your allocated spending money in cash before jetting off, that way you know how much you’re working with. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Or if you don’t feel safe carrying large amounts of cash, download a budget app curated for vacation-related purchases.
Also – download a price converting app if you’re overseas! Don’t make any math mistakes converting currency and end up overspending (me)!
Regardless, if you spend a little too much or buy something that you probably didn’t need, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s really not a big deal. Consider it a learning lesson and move on. I have done this one too many times, and I’d like to believe that with every new destination, I’m getting better each time! On the other hand, if you’re feeling guilty because you didn’t check off every sight, activity, and attraction on your list — that’s okay! I’ve been to Switzerland three times now (bless my grandparents for living there) and I still have yet to check everything off! Give yourself something to look forward to by planning another trip back in the future.
5) Drink Water
This one may seem way too obvious, but don’t forget to drink water! And plenty of it! When we’re on vacation or travel mode, it’s easy to opt for tons of local drinks and coffees to stay up (because, duh — vacation), but don’t forget you need even more water while traveling than you do at home! Alcohol (for those that drink), coffee, and being on-the-go dehydrate you fast. Opt for water when you can at restaurants. Definitely bring water on your walks and hikes. Stay hydrated so your skin looks fresh during all your selfies!
If you’re traveling internationally, do your due diligence and research the quality of tap water where you’re going. If you’re unsure on the state of the tap water where you are, play it safe and stick to bottled. Nothing is worse than getting sick while traveling.
6) Slow down
Perhaps one of the most beneficial ways to practice self-care while traveling is to take time to slow down. With so much to see and do in such a short time, it may be difficult not to feel like you need to get in as much as possible. Remember, travel is also a time to reflect, open your mind, heal, and refresh your energy.
I’ll tell you one story. I was traveling through York, England and the day I landed, I was in a mood. I don’t know why, it was about three weeks into my travels throughout Europe and the first day of my period. Okay, so maybe that’s why. I was not feeling good, I felt so alone and missed my family, and felt just downright tired. I was traveling every day, checking off my long bucket list, with no day of rest.
After a pep talk with myself and realizing it’s been two hours since I’ve gotten out of bed, I made up my mind. My first day of the most historic beautiful city of York, England was going to be spent in bed at my hostel, binge-watching English Netflix shows and eating all the British sweets I could find. I felt guilty I was wasting a whole day of the two I planned for this city but the amount of rejuvenation, the amount of refinding my purpose on this trip (this happened after binging 5 episodes of British Bake Off), and just allowing my body to heal and find its balance again, helped so much. I cannot stress slowing down enough while you travel, especially if you are a nonstop traveler. Even your mind needs a break. You’re taking in so much information and new senses constantly and it would serve you so much good if you were able to allow yourself to process all these new findings.
Slow down by waking up early and enjoy the sunrise before getting ready to head out for the day. If traveling with a group, make an effort to break away on your own for a little bit to meditate and take in your surroundings.
I highly recommend investing in a quality notebook and journaling at the end of each day, or even more frequently whenever you can. Writing about your experiences, things that happened, detailed descriptions of what you saw, and how you’re feeling is a great way to de-stress and remember your trip!
While I was traveling, it’s also my duty as a Muslim to keep up with my prayers. However, since I was constantly traveling, I was allowed to shorten them for ease. These moments of collecting myself and isolating myself quietly in prayer led me to clear my mind and ease my soul. If you are the praying type and you find it brings you comfort and ease, don’t let that go during traveling!
Other times, I took the time to do some yoga and stretch my aching bones. All of the walking that I was not used to, all of the food I stretched into my stomach, and all of the thoughts that stood on my shoulders, I just shook away! Take time to be present within your body and allow yourself to feel every ache and pain so that you know how your body feels and what your body needs!
Another good friend of mines always tells me about how she loves to journal in general, and especially on a trip! Don’t stop while you’re on the trip! New ideas and new thoughts flow way more than before when you’re traveling, so take advantage of this special time to write it all out and keep it for reflection!
Ok, I cringed too, but listen. Laugh a lot! Take tons of photos of you being happy! I don’t want you to read this whole article and think twice that traveling can be so stressful, you need to be on guard always! Noooooo.
Laugh on your trips from the pits of your belly. Eat until you can’t distinguish taste anymore. Make friends and connect with them fully, even if you know you won’t text them back in a week. Take risks, climb walls, jump fences. Got sick? Got hurt? It’s ok! Whatever it is that you want to do, accomplish it and don’t look back! Self-care while traveling is more than a few face masks and a couple of tears, be ahead of the game for your next big travel and enjoy it to the fullest!
Anways, pin for later!