Travel is itself an act of self-care.
But often in the voluntary uprooting of your day-to-day in exchange for an entirely new experience in a new place or country, we tend to return home feeling drained. We forget to slow down and take the steps needed to take care of ourselves. We may even have a difficult time re-adjusting to everyday life once we’re back home. Almost like you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. Does anyone else have that experience?
But it doesn’t need to be that way. Some simple self-care tips while traveling can help you feel grounded, nourished, and rested throughout your trip.
1. Plan your self-care before you leave
It’s so much easier to stick with a quality self-care routine when you plan ahead. It doesn’t take much to “get lost” in a new destination. You can get so overwhelmed and excited by the newness of it all that you forget to make taking care of yourself a priority during travel.
Set pins on your Google maps for healthy food restaurants, walking distance to coffee shops, and parks. Check out your accommodations to see if there’s a fitness room. If not, check out nearby parks or gyms that allow drop-ins. Some apps like Mindbody are helpful, but also using social media is a great way to discover aligned businesses in the area. A little recon goes a long way in implementing your self-care strategies!
Create a self-care packing list to bring with you on your travels.
2. Create a daily routine
During travel, we often find we need to cram every last “bucket-list” item into our itinerary so that by the time we get back from our trip, it didn’t really feel like a vacation at all.
Establishing a routine for taking care of yourself can help you keep on track and de-stressed. Keep this routine sacred to protect your time of relaxation, self-reflection, and nourishment when you travel.
It may not look exactly like the routine you keep at home— some flexibility is required. But having a framework in place can help keep your body and mind energized to get the most out of your trip.
3. Get Good Quality Sleep
Sleep is king!
We’ve heard it a million times, sleep is one of THE most important factors in maintaining wellness. Lack of sleep can affect memory, focus, reaction time, mood, and stress.
But I get it, it can be SO difficult to get good sleep when you’re traveling. Never mind the excitement factor of exploring a new place and wanting to stay out late to experience the nightlife. There are also the time zones, there’s jet lag, there are new accommodations, lights, noises, and smells— All things that knock you off your rhythm and disrupt your REM cycle.
Prioritize your rest with a siesta, and firm boundaries around bedtime to ensure that you’re ready to take on the day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
4. Stay Hydrated!
Ever feel totally dried out after a long flight? How about a bit tired in the middle of the day?
Drink some water!
Travel is such a busy time. Us travelers forget to keep up with water intake.
Start your day with a glass of water. Carry your reusable water bottle with you throughout your day and make sure you’re refilling it as you drink. Proper hydration help with energy, focus, mood, and organ function.
5. Eat Healthy Meals. Pack Healthy Snacks.
Vacation is a time when it is very tempting to overindulge in foods that are… a little less than healthy. When you’re traveling, you’re on the go most of the time. When it’s time to snack, your choice in fuel for the afternoon pick-me-up may not be good fuel at all.
Scope out a local grocery or farmers market and grab a few pieces of fruits like apples and citrus fruits, that you can pack in your tins. You’ll find yourself better fueled for your adventures when you opt for whole foods versus sugary and processed snacks.
6. Give yourself a digital detox
Nowadays our mobile devices are attached to our palms more often than they’re not. Setting boundaries around when your devices come out during your travels will help you stay present in the moment. Disable notifications on your phone so you’re not interrupted.
Set up an “out of office” reply to your email address. Protect your vacation from digital distractions.
PLUS! Studies have shown that people who use their phones before bedtime have poorer quality sleep than those who wind down for the evening without their smartphones.
Put your phone away an hour before bed and use the time instead to read a book, meditate, or jot down the highlights of your day in a journal.
7. Get into nature
This is so super important for staying grounded while traveling. According to the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature can have a host of benefits on your mental health and cognition.
Get yourself into the OG green rooms for some endorphins and dopamine and see the benefits of improved attention and better mood. Read about how travel can improve your mental health in other ways here.
So find a trailhead nearby and get some movement in. Listen to an audiobook on a park bench. Opt for outdoor seating at restaurants.
Your body and mind will thank you.
8. Make friends
Being in a new place can be stressful, and it can feel a bit daunting to make new friends. Get out of your comfort zone to make a new friend. Try a few words in the native language. Meet some local artisans.
Connecting with other humans— particularly locals and like-minded travelers— opens the opportunity for creating lasting memories and friendships.
9. Treat Yourself to a Spa day
The logistics of travel can be a headache. And while it may be exciting, travel can also be taxing on your nervous system.
One of the best ways to decompress during travel is heading to the spa. Book a massage or facial and experience the benefits.
Massage lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure, regulates hormones, and uplifts your mood.
Suggested Packing List of self-care items for travelers
Your Reusables: Stay hydrated and well-fed without adding to waste with reusable water-bottle and food containers. Read more about zero-waste travel tips here.
Travel Journal: Jot down your intentions for your trip. Celebrate your accomplishments. Preserve your memories.
Yoga Strap: small, lightweight, easy-to-pack for post-flight and daily stretches.
Sleep Mask: Key for getting the zzzz’s and regulating the body’s circadian rhythm.
Travel Yoga mat: These are thin and easy to fold and pack. Great for stretching, meditation practice, or HIIT workouts.
Travel Pillow: For uber long flights, bringing a travel pillow can help you get some rest in the air without your neck (or your neighbor) paying for it after the flight.
If you’re looking for ways to travel with more intention, subscribe to our mailing list, and follow Conscious Travel Collective on IG or FB. We craft private small group travel for those looking for meaningful connection to places and people, so when you are ready to experience for yourself, we are here help make it happen!
The author of this blog is the oh-so-talented, Shelagh Hogan.
You can find out more about her work on our team page