Tips on Travelling: Finding Balance
I’ve had a set life path for as long as I can remember. From the time I could read, I knew I wanted to never stop and that my future would be filled with books. When I was in fourth grade, I knew I would study English once I got to college (a plan that only took so long to form because I didn’t yet know what college was), and when I was in eighth grade I filled an entire scrapbook with my future, detailing everything from my children’s names to the complete floor plan of my home.
While everything hasn’t been exactly in line with these early life plans, the basics have been the same: I studied books in college, I work in the publishing world, and my first apartment has a big bookshelf filled to the brim, just like I imagined.
Though I am excited to see how my future plays into these plans, I also am excited (and nervous) for all the unknowns. I am at a crazy place right now, not knowing what will come next in my career or the steps I may end up taking. In fact, just next week I am travelling on my first business trip (!!), an event I never could have imagined occurring so soon a few months ago.
I’ll be travelling to Georgia for the week, a place I have never been (if you have any recommendations, please let me know!). After that, I leave immediately for home, spending a few days in the Bay with my parents before we hop on yet another plane to go back east for Thanksgiving. So yeah, over the next two weeks I will be living out of a suitcase, constantly on the go go go.
Back in early June, a few weeks after I graduated from college, one of my best friends and I embarked on a Euro trip, eager to explore and celebrate our success. I was also excited to have a few weeks completely free from stress and anxiety regarding the job search. I told myself I would take this time completely off and would dive back in after I returned home.
The last time I had been abroad was my junior year of college when I studied in Copenhagen for a few months. I was upset during this time, but didn’t know how or where to direct my anger and frustration. I should have been excited and grateful for everything I was experiencing- and I was, but a lot of that was overshadowed by my anxiety surrounding my health. I felt out of my comfort zone, felt extremely insecure in my eating and exercise habits, even though I wouldn’t recognize this until I returned back home.
I’ve written in the past about exercise on the go and eating out while travelling, but there is a whole host of factors to take into consideration beyond these. Both of these play into the overarching theme of mental health, something extremely important and also often difficult to navigate when travelling.
One of my favorite moments of my recent Euro trip was the day I stayed in, 10 days into the trip and three days before returning home. I felt tired and out of it, bitter with my surroundings. I had been walking 8+ miles every day, exploring the heck out of the cities we visited. But on this day, I had no motivation. So, instead of forcing myself to go out, I stayed in bed. I put on the hotel’s comfy robe, climbed under the covers, and took a me day. I watched out the window, read, napped, and ate some yummy treats I had picked up at the local market earlier in the morning. And I didn’t regret anything. The next day when it was time to explore, I jumped out, ready to go. I felt rejuvenated.
Today, I want to share my tips for finding balance when traveling. Yes, you should try to not fear when things get turned around (we can’t always be perfectly balanced all the time!), but you are also capable of taking steps to make sure you get the most out of your travels.
Have you ever struggled to find peace on a trip? If so, what did you do to feel better?
Make sure you’re prepared. Know your itinerary, important addresses and phone numbers, and have all your tickets ready to go. This will help diminish any anxiety or stress you feel. But at the same time, try your best to be flexible! Things do occur and plans do mess up, but just remember that in the end it will work out even if it seems anything from it in the moment.
Don’t be afraid to stay in. Yes, when travelling, you should take advantage of the opportunity to see new sights and explore new places. But if you are not well rested or mentally attuned, it won’t be worth it. So if that means you have to snuggle up in the hotel bed with room service or take out on your lap while you watch shows in a language you can’t understand, then so be it.
Find nature. Whether the beach, the forest, or a park, head there and just be. Take some time to think, journal, or reflect on your surroundings. Take the time to truly be with yourself.
Similarly, find a quiet, unique place in the city or town or wherever you are. When I was in Copenhagen, cafes were my escape. Every afternoon after class, I would head to my favorite café down the street from my apartment. I would read or study, drinking my go to chai latte and eating some rugbrød toast with a soft boiled egg. I would tune out my surroundings, all the while soaking them in at the same time. I would take time for myself, all while being within the community I temporarily called home.
Find something that reminds you of home. I often feel homesick. During such moments abroad, I would walk home from class- about three miles- and take the time to call my parents as their day began. Walking and speaking with them made me feel like I was back home, following my normal routine after class. Whether it is a movie theatre, a book shop, or an activity, find something that makes you feel at peace.
Pack essential oils, a sleep mask, your stuffed animal- anything that you find comforting and soothing. These items will relax you, help you feel your best when the overwhelming aspect of travel hits.
Get some sleep! Yes, of course you can go out and experience night life, but sleep is crucial while travelling or not. That sleep mask? Utilize it. Pack melatonin or a book and hit the hay.
Know what you need. When you are home, what are the things most important for your sanity? What do you need to feel your best and be your best? Try and incorporate these into your daily routine while travelling as well. Just because you aren’t away from home doesn’t mean they can’t be done- you may just have to get creative!
So take some time for you and (I don’t think I can say this enough) remember to listen to your body!