How to practice self-care when traveling
Why does self-care matter and how can we implement and practice self-care while traveling? Read below for the best ideas on how to prioritize your mental and physical health.
What is self-care?
Self-care is more than just face masks and yoga poses.
Self-care is simply caring for yourself well. It is the practice of doing something, anything, to maintain or improve your own mental or physical health.
Why does self care matter when traveling?
It may seem strange to think about self-care while traveling. After all, it's common to travel to escape daily life and destress from the chaos of work. Why would you need to think about taking care of yourself while traveling?
The truth is that you can experience a lapse in mental or physical health while traveling just as easily as you can at home. It might even be more likely! With so many new sights and sounds, it's only natural to ignore the warning signs and put self-care on the back burner.
Anyone who has battled a cold while on vacation will tell you that it puts a damper on your overall travel experience. If you're exhausted or feeling off, it's so much harder to make long-lasting memories.
Establishing a self-care routine while traveling will help you keep your energy levels high, your mental state clear, and your body ready for adventure.
Read on for ideas on how to practice self-care when traveling abroad.
Best ways to practice self-care while traveling
- Sleep well
- Make a list of little wins
- Take a walk
- Stretch it out
- Learn to say no
- Water, water, water
- Create a no phone zone
- Eat a fruit or veggie
- Slow down
- Take a self-care vacation
1. Sleep well
When your sleep schedule is off, so are you. It can be tempting to book that night bus or stay out a little too late while traveling, but a lack of sleep permeates all areas of your health.
Be aware of what you personally need for a solid eight hours. If it's total darkness, consider adding an eye mask to your self-care packing list. If you need silence to sleep well, pack ear plugs.
Knowing yourself and your needs are an important part of practicing self-care during business travel or personal travel.
2. Make a list of little wins
Occasionally, traveling abroad and experiencing different cultures and languages can feel exhausting. You might feel extra self-conscious or anxious about making a social faux pas.
Remind yourself of the things you've done well in those moments. Did you say hello and thank you to a café owner? Write it down. Did you navigate the metro on your own? Write it down. Did you say hi to a potential new friend? Write it down.
You'll feel a noticeable shift in your own confidence before long.
3. Take a walk
Most travelers won't need to be reminded to get their steps each day, but it is important to our mental and physical health to move a lot.
Find the best view in the area and walk there. Explore an ancient city by foot.
You'll be breathing easier in no time.
4. Stretch it out
It's important to check in with your body as you're traveling.
Take a few moments each morning to stretch out your limbs or take a stroll around the block before breakfast.
5. Learn to say no
Getting out in the world brings so many new opportunities. New destinations to explore. New friends to meet. New activities to try. New foods to eat.
Saying "yes" to every new experience might leave you more exhausted and confused about who you are than you were before you left. Being more selective about what you say "yes" to will help you have the travel experience you personally want or need.
6. Water, water, water
If you're feeling a little off, try to drink an extra glass of water or going for a swim.
For me, water works like a reset button. It has the innate power to refresh us when we need it most.
7. Create a no phone zone
Posting trip photos. Coordinating with new friends. Telling your mom you're safe. It can be tempting to pass time on your phone while traveling.
Create a physical space in your accommodation or a certain space in your day for a digital detox. I personally love to end my evenings with an hour of screen-free time, but find a time that works for you.
8. Eat a fruit or veggie
It can be so easy to eat unhealthy things while we travel. It's so tempting to try the decadent delights in each destination instead of reaching for the foods that are nutritious.
Forget the fancy meals for a moment and your body will reward you with more energy and a happier outlook.
9. Slow down
By definition, travelers are on the move. Take a moment, or even a day, to stop and smell the roses. It can be harder than you think!
If you're struggling with slowing down, give yourself a reflective activity. Journal about your travel experiences so far, read a book, complete a simple skincare routine, do anything that calms your mind.
10. Take a self-care vacation
Sometimes you need more than just a quiet night to improve your mental and physical health.
There are many self-care retreats or wellness trips you can look into, but you can make any travel experience a self-care vacation.
Choose the right work exchange experience, like this eco-experience in nature or this one at a yoga retreat center, and you'll be primed to have a transformational travel experience. If you feel that volunteer experience is for you, read more about 5 Reasons why you should volunteer abroad and discover why volunteering is important to the world.
Use this guide to creating a winning Worldpackers profile to help get you started on your journey choosing the type of experience that suits you best. And if you're curious to know more about what it's like to travel with Worldpackers, I recommend checking out the full story of my personal Worldpackers travel experience.
What do you need to pack to practice self-care when traveling?
By now, you should know that you don't need to pack much in your self-care travel kit to be effective.
Here is a short list of things to consider packing if they make sense for what your self-care travel needs are.
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Skin care regimen
- Reusable water bottle
- Exercise clothing
- Yoga mat or travel towel
Remember to pack for your own personal self-care travel needs and not the needs that other people swear by. If you're not someone who journals, you won't want to be lugging a heavy booklet in your backpack for long.
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