It may seem as though the action of taking yourself on a trip is self-care enough. Seeing new places, trying exotic foods, meeting the locals… all of it makes you feel excitement and engagement with life that may have been lacking from your day-to-day routine.
But with so much going on, traveling can start to take a toll on your state of mind. This is especially true if you travel for a long stretch of time, if your trek is part of an important business engagement, if your plans go awry… just about anything that causes you stress can make your trip feel like less of a getaway and more of a burden.
I know this feeling all too well. And, before I realized that I wasn’t taking care of myself, I would let this overwhelming feeling get the best of me, thus putting a damper on what were otherwise incredible trips. That’s why I’ve made self-care my number one priority on my trips from here on out. Here are four ways you can do so, too.
Listen To Your Body
If you only take one tip on this list to heart, let it be this: listen to your body while you’re traveling. With so much to see and do, you might feel as though you can’t have an off day or else you’ll miss out on something. But a go-go-go itinerary could also leave you feeling worn out, sleep-deprived, dehydrated and hungry. You’ll need a vacation from your vacation once you get home.
From now on, try and refrain from putting the pedal to the metal. Make a list of must-sees, but leave the rest open. I’ve found this works for me because I can sleep a little later some days or stick in relaxing afternoons lazing in parks when I don’t have anything planned. I always have a water bottle with me, do my walking in comfortable shoes and eat intuitively. If I’m too tired to go out, I don’t go. And I have yet to feel as though I missed out by taking care of myself first.
Extend Your Stay
To that end, you might be worn out because your trips are too short. If you add another day or two to your itinerary, you can really spread out your to-dos and give yourself more time to reflect, recharge and explore without a destination in between your scheduled plans.
When you do, you’ll realize something pretty special: travel can be self-care, too, so long as you take time to do it right. Savoring every moment, putting your phone down, walking around and enjoying what you’re seeing at your own pace is the perfect way to care for yourself on every single trip you take.
Stick to Your Regularly Scheduled Relaxation Time
You’re on vacation, so you don’t have to follow your regular routine to a T — you’re definitely not going to work while you travel, are you? Still, there are probably things you do on a day-to-day basis that help you unwind, relax and reflect. Be sure that your trip itinerary leaves time for these practices because they’ll keep you feeling your best.
I’ve recently committed to maintaining my normal meditation practice while on the road, and it has paid off in dividends. You’ll have to do a slight bit of preparation to meditate on the road, such as bringing a candle along with you or turning your iTunes on with soothing music to set the mood. With that, you’ll be ready to meditate wherever you may be — and take care of yourself in the process.
Take It All In
A quick smartphone photo is not the only way to capture what you’re seeing while on vacation. Taking a minute or two to set up the perfect shot — bonus points for taking your picture with a real camera — can help you focus on the beauty of what’s in front of you. Slowing down, savoring and capturing memories: that sounds like self-care to me.
Of course, you can take this to a whole new level if you really want to pause, recharge and take in what you’re seeing. Learning to sketch landscapes — in even the most bare-boned way — will give you the opportunity to let go of your thoughts, focus on incredibly scenery and interpret it in your own way. You’ll walk away from your session with a souvenir, too, if the mental benefits aren’t incentive enough.
With these tips — and the many other ways you can take care of yourself — in mind, it’s time to get going. If you do it right, travel itself is a great way to hit the reset button, too: taking time to reflect and be mindful of what you need and want is the best way to make sure your next trip is as fruitful as you want it to be. Now, get going.