Traveling is the best way to break out of my day-to-day routine. Rather than heading to work, running errands or hitting the gym, I’m in a new place without any must-dos — I get to decide what each day holds, and that might just be the best part about the trips I take.
Even without the rigidity of daily life in place, there are still some rituals I always follow when I am on the move. They help me make the most of my experience, and they could help you do the same. Here are my top 10 travel rituals:
Where’s my cell phone? Charger? Toothbrush? Medications? My most essential items always travel with me in the same compartment in the same bag. This organizational step helps ease that pre-travel anxiety, when I double- or triple-check that I have my passport, headphones, etc. If they’re always in the same spot in my bag, I can quickly verify that they’re on me and I’m ready to hit the road.
In a similar vein, another of my top 10 travel rituals has to do with what I carry onboard with me. In this case, though, it’s all about what I’m wearing, as this can make the difference between a comfortable and extremely uncomfortable one.
You never know what you’re going to get on an airplane — it could be freezing, or it could be balmy. I prepare for both scenarios by layering my travel look. Leggings fit either temperature since they’re breathable but also a solid layer if it’s chilly on board. Then, I top a t-shirt with a light sweater and top it all off with a scarf, which is long enough to double as a blanket if needed. And I always pack an extra pair of thick socks for when it’s just that cold.
Whenever I land in a new city or country, I feel a little bit discombobulated — even more so when my trip has taken me from one corner of the world to another. As such, I need a little bit of grounding once I land, and I head outdoors to get the feeling that I have arrived.
I don’t need to do much, and if I’m exhausted from air or land travel, I don’t push it. But merely getting outside, taking a short walk or relaxing in a local park makes me feel like, “Yes, I have arrived — and I’m ready for the experience to begin.”
Plane food is notoriously bad in both taste and nutritional content. That’s why I’ve made it a point to bring along healthy snacks and, sometimes, meals when I make extra-long treks. For me, fresh fruit, roasted almonds and a protein bar can go a long way. Find your perfect travel snacks and keep them within arm’s reach — you’ll be much happier if you’re not starving by the time you land.
Journaling isn’t just a way for me to remember what happens on each day of my trip, although I do appreciate the process for giving me a written record of my experiences. Simply taking time to reflect and write at the end of each day allows me to see the lessons in my trials and the value in my triumphs. If I’m feeling lonely or stressed — common sentiments when I travel solo — I can work through those emotions and wake up refreshed and ready for a new day.
Travel can be stressful, and we’re sometimes stuck in airports or train stations waiting for a ride to the next location on the list. Rather than let myself give into the chaos, I’ve made self-care rituals part of my top 10 travel rituals list.
For one thing, I’ve come up with a soothing playlist that I cue up whenever I find out that a flight’s delayed. Then, I rub lavender essential oil on my wrists and neck, so I can inhale the relaxing scent and focus on my breathing. On the plane, I continually slather my hands and face in lotion because the air’s so drying. I drink a ton of water, too. Find self-care travel rituals that work for you, and you’ll be just as zen as I am — no matter the delay.
This relates to self-care but has more to do with the bettering of my body than of my mind. Whenever I travel, I make a point to be as active as possible. While awaiting a flight, I’ll walk laps around the terminal. Some mornings, I wake up and stretch before getting ready. I’ll swim in the ocean on an otherwise lazy beach day. These bursts of activity give me energy that is especially useful if I’m fighting back against jet lag. No matter what, though, maintaining activity levels on your trip makes me feel good — and that makes my trip even better.
Intentions are more than a travel to-do list — they’re the overarching goals of travel that I hope to accomplish. I might head to the beach to completely unplug or fly across the world to experience a new culture. Either way, I create intentions that help me make the most of every travel scenario in which I find myself. They’re so useful in helping me achieve my visions and goals, and that’s why they make the list of my top 10 travel rituals.
I always have all my travel info on my phone, which is a blessing — or a curse if my device was ever lost or stolen. Therefore, to give myself peace of mind, I always print every important document pre-trip. My plane tickets, directions and addresses to hotels, contact info of Airbnb hosts… you name it. It might not be the eco-friendliest option, especially because I have yet to lose my phone while traveling, but it’s worth it for the added security while I trek the world.
Finally, I find it vital to unplug as much as I can to make the most of my trips. Sometimes, my cell phone provider will do it for me and bar me from using my phone unless I have Wi-Fi. However, on domestic trips, I either put my device on airplane mode or leave it in the hotel room safe so I can soak up every second without a screen in my face.
That’s ultimately what travel’s all about, isn’t it? Experiencing a new place for myself? Whether I’m unplugging from the Internet, eating healthily, making a point to move or setting intentions for every day, I know I’m making the most of every moment and going home with zero regrets. And, now that you know my top 10 travel rituals, I hope you can do the same.