First off, what is self-care? And how can you practice it during traveling? In today’s post, I want to break that down, and share with you effective, practical ways that I like to practice self-care while traveling, that you can adopt as your own and establish on your next trip, wherever you may go.
What is self-care?
Self-care looks different for everyone. It has different meanings, and everyone does it a bit differently. It’s also become a bit of a buzzword amongst so many people, that sometimes it seems like the definition of the word gets lost amongst so many versions and definitions that get filtered throughout people. According to various outlets online, self-care usually attests to the care of one’s health from physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing without the use of medical professionals. There are many ways and many additional areas in life that would benefit from self-care, I believe, but these seem to be the most common areas where self-care is practiced.
In today’s post, I want to talk about it in the sense of ways to take care of your mind and body when traveling, which as we know that as fun as it is to travel, is oftentimes draining on the body and mind. Our bodies are the vessel that we get to experience life, and allow us to fully experience beautiful things like travel – so, I hope these tips will help guide you towards creating a more personal regime that will work best for you. Let’s begin!
Be conscious of your first few meals
One of my personal favorite ways to practice self-care comes from our food choices. Start out with light meals in order to ease into the local foods, flavors, and ingredients of the culture you’re visiting.
Being more conscious of the foods you eat especially in the first few days of your trip could mean the difference between an upset stomach or feeling good and energized for that walking tour of the city, and the experiences you want to have. Foods have different bacterias and are made with ingredients that we may not be used to eating where we are from, therefore it can be hard to determine how your stomach reacts and digest these new foods you eating after landing in your destination.
Monitor how your body reacts to the foods, your new sleeping schedule, and Jet-lag as these things in and of themselves take their toll on the body from messing up your sleeping schedule to your hunger/appetite and how your body reacts as a whole. Choose lighter foods that are packed with more nutrients that can help support your body during a transition period where it’s trying to settle itself into its new rhythm and schedule. Drinks lots of water, whether it’s plain H2O or tea – keep your body hydrated, preferably with natural water.
Read More: 15 Travel Tips I’d Tell Any New Traveler
Check the tap water situation of the country you’re visiting
Speaking of water, something to research ahead of landing at your destination should also be the status of the tap water situation in the country/city that you will be visiting. If you ever have questions on which countries are considered to have generally safe drinking water, and which don’t, check out sources like this one to help make a concise decision that will give you the peace of mind that you won’t experience any kind of negative consequences by drinking the tap water.
In my experience, countries such as Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, and Italy, have not only safe drinking water from the tap but also deliciously refreshing, quality drinking water. It’s better drinking water than what the average American has in terms of drinkable tap water, so rest assured that even if you’re a foreigner, drinking water from the tap won’t make you sick. Do your research, search specifically for the country/city you’re visiting, and bring a reusable water bottle.
Drink lots of water
Travel is so much fun, but man does it require energy, mental focus, and being alert and aware. Also because of flying and the constant movement of travel, it can be dehydrating to your body. I recommend bringing along a reusable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated during and throughout your travels. Bringing a reusable water bottle can save you money, limit your consumption of plastic, and makes it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day. Nowadays, there are so many options when it comes to the different water bottles that you can buy, some that are collapsable and easy to travel with like this one, or ones that are skinny enough to fit into the small pockets of your day bag without it being a big and heavy jug.
Create/maintain a doable workout regime
Before you shut this one down with images of a gym popping into your head when you read the title, hold on and hear me out.
When you’re traveling, in movement, and experiencing changes in a variety of ways, doing something to bring your mind and body together can do wonders for you. Something like taking walks to explore your new surroundings, or a swim or a hike to the nearest nature trail can help you shake off any jet lag and brain fog. Take a walking tour the first few days you’re at your destination, I always recommend this not only for exercise purposes but also to get to know your surroundings better with a local guide and their insight. However, you can also totally do your own thing, and go on your own self-guided tour of the city. Any form of movement that doesn’t feel like actually working out (unless you want that) is what you should aim for. Go for self-care morning walks when the city is starting to wake up, pop in a walking meditation, and enjoy this movement and moment. Or make it a point to walk to dinner every night instead of taking the metro or an Uber. Little things like this.
Rest, like actually
Sleep and rest are essential for our survival, as much as eating and drinking water are. This not only means to rest at night, but also during the day with naps, or even just chilling back at your Airbnb or hotel because you’re tired and have low energy to keep walking. The city and all the things you want to see will still be there after your nap, I promise.
But no, really, travel FOMO is a thing and a sneaky one at that. FOMO – fear of missing out, means the fear of not being able to see and do all the things you may have planned for on each day of your trip, which for some people can bring on some kind of guilt and/or anxiety of the thought of having to rearrange their plans, just because they may need to take a longer break. I’ve heard some stories…
Oftentimes we come to the question, do I want to see x,y,z or do I want to take a nap? And if you’d ask me, I’d say go for the latter, you’ll thank yourself later for it, I promise! As someone who is always excited to see places, and have the experiences, it’s backfired on me to push through my tiredness to sightsee, because even if you go see the sights, you may not enjoy it the same. Actually, you won’t.
Don’t worry about feeling “guilty” for not seeing x,y,z while you were in a certain city, and instead, listen to what your body needs from you in order to sustain and feel your optimal best later on to see more things! Maybe you reading this, you actually do rest, but for those who find it harder to take more breaks, this one is for you. Practice this self-care tip if anything on this list!
What does that mean? It’s such a buzzword these days, but really it just means to do something to appreciate and observe the present moment – really be in it. Some of my favorite ways of getting present are to sit down at a local coffee shop with a coffee, and just look around at what I have near me. People watch – what are human interactions like here and what can they tell me about the local culture? What does the local language sound like? Is the coffee here any different from what I would get where I’m from? Where am I sitting, and who is sitting around me? Nothing like sitting at a coffee shop and letting your surroundings sink in. It’s quite exciting.
Another way to take in the moment a bit that I love to do is to do at least one picnic (if the weather permits). I usually have a picnic lunch or picnic dinner, depending on where I am. Go to a local grocery store, buy a few snacks, or a sandwich, find a place to sit at a park, and enjoy! I oftentimes love doing this instead of eating at a sit-down restaurant because I get to be outside, I feel included in the local culture, I get to observe more of my surroundings, I can meet people, and again, it kind of forces you to stay in the present, as you eat your sandwich and stare into some seriously beautiful views of the city.
Do something to keep you grounded
Whether it’s bringing a travel journal with you to document the things you see and learn every day of your trip, or it’s a gratitude journal that you keep up with, or practicing a grounding meditation to set the tone for the day, whatever kind of practice that you do at home, bring it with you while you travel. Adjust it if need be, it doesn’t have to be perfect, the idea here is that whatever practice you do at home that makes you feel good, bring it with you on your travels to continue the good feels and the right mindset, especially as you navigate new things every day on your travels.
Now, do you have to do it every day? No. But it’s something consistent you can bring with you to give you that stability as you navigate foreign cities and places. Bring your favorite meditation, and start your day off with moments of inner peace within before you go into full travel mode, experiencing the world outside of you. My current favorite meditations are Mimi Method because of their walking and running meditations (which I didn’t even know was a thing until I found these meditations last year). Click here to check them out if you’re curious to learn more.
Read More: 3 Ways To Make Travel Less Intimidating
Self-care may be different for everyone, but some of the themes are pretty constant I’d say when it comes to this topic. Creating comfort while you’re in the middle of so much change and shifting around you while you’re traveling, can not only offer you support, but also improved physical health, mood, and emotional wellbeing while traveling. Whether you travel alone or in a group, I strongly suggest paying attention to your body and what it is trying to tell you in terms of what it needs. Do it for yourself.
Let me know in the comments below how you practice self-care while traveling, and if there is something that you do that I didn’t mention.
To many more travel moments like these,