It’s kinda hard to believe, but I’m currently FIVE WEEKS into my seven month round the world trip. I spent nearly a year planning (and impatiently waiting) so sometimes I need to pinch myself because it doesn’t seem real that I’m actually here. (And if you’re curious, ‘here’ is currently Spain, where I’m spending my days eating tapas, drinking red wine and exploring adorable cobblestone streets.)
On the flip side though, five weeks is long enough that the initial ‘holiday’ feeling has started to fade. It no longer feels strange to wake up in a strange hotel room or to be constantly living out of a backpack. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still having an amazing time (and I’m very aware that I’m 10,000 miles away from my office!! Happy dance!)
But the buzz, the crazy relentless ENERGY that you feel when you first start travelling, has begun to abandoned me.
The truth is I’m feeling a bit scattered at times. Maybe it’s a mix of getting older, blogging and planning a wedding (I got married in Australia last month but we are having a ‘formal’ wedding in the UK in January), but for some reason I’m not feeling as present as I normally do when I travel. I’ve got a restless mind and to be honest the aforementioned steady diet of wine and tapas isn’t leaving my body feeling the greatest either!
What this has reminded me is that self care is always important, especially when travelling. Here are the steps I’m following to get myself back on track and ready to take on the next 23 weeks! (More happy dancing!)
Psst – a few of the below links are affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission for any purchases at no cost to you. Thanks for helping keep this blog running!
DON’T ABANDON YOUR NORMAL SELF CARE HABITS
Alright, this is a BIG one. When I was at home and working full time, I made looking after myself a priority. Even with a busy schedule, I found time to write in my journal, meditate, or go to a yoga class; all the little things that helped keep my head from imploding.
However, since I’ve been travelling, I’ve let myself believe that because I’m having fun and away from my ‘normal’ stress, my body and mind will automatically take care of itself.
Umm… no. Apparently it doesn’t work that way, but it’s ok. The truth is I like my normal self care habits, so moving forward I’ll be taking steps to build a routine that works for me on the road.
If you don’t have a self care routine some travel friendly ideas to try include:
Meditate – I use the Simply Being guided meditation app. This is downloaded on my phone so there is no reason not to use it from anywhere!
Sketch or Colour – I picked up this adult colouring book at Bangkok airport and I confess that I love it. The hubby is teasing me relentlessly but it helps me chill out. (It’s particularly good if you can’t quite ‘get into’ meditation.)
Journal – write lists, record the days events, or my personal fave: explore and review your values. I’m kind of obsessed with values; I wrote a post all about it over here, but the quick and dirty is make sure the life you live on the outside = the life your heart wants most on the inside (which = being happy!)
Move – I’d love to find yoga classes while travelling, but in truth I’m too lazy. I’ll occasionally practice yoga on my own, but realistically I just try to fit in some stretching and lots of walking.
Now, a few special ‘traveller’ things to keep in mind when practicing self care.
TURN OFF THE ‘TRAVEL TALK’
There have been some days on this trip when I feel like the only thing the hubby and I talk about is our travel plans. (Where are we going for dinner? When are we visiting this? Or that? And when does the bus leave?)
Whether you’re travelling with a partner, friends or even alone (every backpacker knows about the mandatory ‘where have you been’ travel introductions) I think it’s important to find time to talk about anything else but travel. Don’t get me wrong – I love talking about travel and making plans, but I also know that I need downtime so that travel stays fun and not an unpleasant chore.
DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SKIPPING ‘MUST SEE’ ATTRACTIONS
Or about doing absolutely nothing. Even though my brain knows this, I have to admit this is sometimes hard to do in my ‘real’ travel life. Over the past few weeks I’ve definitely felt guilty when I’ve spent a few minutes vegging on the sofa, or sleeping in, or writing this blog! In the back of my mind, I’m worried I’m ‘missing out’ on something.
But the truth is – being free to do what you please is one of the best parts about travel (at least for me!) Having a ‘must see’ list (and beating yourself up about following it) creates unnecessary stress and pressure, which can really wear you down when you’re travelling.
EAT FUEL + DRINK WATER
I am a FOOD person and exploring new restaurants and trying new things is one of the highlights of travel for me. I’ve even chosen to visit certain countries just because I’m food dreaming (this might be the reason I keep return to Thailand over and over again!)
Now, I won’t pretend that I’m going to give up indulging in local treats, but I’m my body is telling me I need to find more BALANCE. I’m working towards reducing my portion sizes, occasionally choosing food for fuel, and drinking more water than wine.
ALLOW YOURSELF A FEW COMFORTS
I’m a (mostly) budget traveller and I’m travelling around the world with carry-on luggage only, which means I don’t have room in my budget or my bags for many luxuries. But every once in a while, indulging in small comforts does wonders for your soul.
A silk pillowcase, a scented moisturiser or essential oil, or an occasional hotel upgrade can revive your spirits and really help you feel energised after a long bus ride or a busy day exploring.
STAY ANOTHER DAY
One of the best ways to care for yourself when you’re on the road is to slow down. When you’re planning your itinerary, consider adding one more day than you think you’ll need to at least some of your destinations.
Trust me, I understand that when you’re travelling you want to try and fit in as much as possible. There is always so much to see and never enough time. (And the more you learn about a new destination, the worse it gets!) But as always, quality always trumps quantity.
Adding an extra day gives you time to relax and eases the pressure of trying to fit too much into a tight schedule. Plus, as an added bonus, when you have more time in a destination you’re more likely to find hidden treasures and go a few steps further off the beaten track.
On a final note, the biggest challenge I face trying to practice self care when travelling is accepting that it’s important. For a while, I thought it felt a bit self indulgent and silly; the whole “after all, you’re on holidays” thing!
But the truth is, no matter how long you’re travelling for, you’ve probably put a lot of time, money and energy into your trip. (I know I have!) So make sure you’re mentally and physically able to truly enjoy it.
How do you practice self care? And do you find it particularly hard to maintain when travelling? I’d love to hear your thoughts – let me know in the comments! x
photo credit (top): Simon Schmitt // Used with permission