Tips For Self-Care While You Travel
Self-care is just as important as where you wanna go.
If you’re anything like me, leaving your element and routine is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. My struggle with ADHD causes increased stress and anxiety when my world is disorganized and my routine is upended. Ric, on the other hand, is a very go-with-the-flow kind of guy.
He can sleep anywhere and we constantly joke about him having the body of a 15-year-old boy — he doesn’t need much in terms of comfort. Luckily, he understands I need more than he does and we’ve worked out a system for making long-term travel fun for both of us, because the importance of self-care while you travel can’t be understated.
Let’s dive in
I want to share some of the things I’ve struggled with and the steps I’ve taken to make sure my needs get met. It’s easy to prioritize your mental health and self-care routines in the comfort of your home, but when your day-to-day changes regularly, deviating away from your routine happen. The practices I’ve used to help stay on track include:
1) Openly communicate your expectations and comfort levels
If you’re traveling alone, this conversation is much easier to have with yourself, but make sure you decide what makes you the most comfortable and don’t compromise. It might make sense to book the cheaper hostel or hotel to save money, but keep in mind you’ll sacrifice comfort.
When you plan your travel budget, whether you’re saving for long-term travel or you’re going on a short trip, budget enough to stay in a place that brings you peace.
Traveling with another person is hard. Have the difficult conversations early so you understand each other’s expectations. Because we originally planned on traveling the world for a year, we had an understanding of what we would spend on a monthly Airbnb or short-term rental in each place. However, we’ve had to adjust our travels to adventuring and driving around the United States.
It took us some trial and error to make sure our car bed was as comfortable as possible, but even then we’ve opted for hotels and Airbnbs from time to time. It gives us space to recoup, time for me to recharge, and Ric understands it’s just something I need. Also, because of some planning, we’ve used our credit card points to book all of our stays! My needs get met without blowing our budget, by communicating and compromising.
2) Keep up with your skincare routine!!!
Your skin, like your mind and body, are going to go through adjustments while you travel. Stress breakouts are real, and travel makes you highly susceptible to increased stress. My skincare routine and products are a high priority for me and I make sure to stick to them. We have two 5-gallon water containers that stay full, not only for drinking water but to make sure we can wash up, too.
3) Drink plenty of water
Like I said, making sure we have enough water is a #1 priority. We have containers in both our car and our trailer and we refill almost every time we stop. Proper hydration impacts all aspects of your life and gives you enough energy to do all of the things you want to do- so drink up!
4) Try to eat as well as possible
This is probably the most difficult thing for us while we travel. We want to try as much local food as possible, so we tend to eat more while traveling. Long-term, that isn’t sustainable. Try to cook as many meals as possible and choose vegetables when you can. Sometimes fast food is our only option, but we try to make that our last resort. Making sure your body gets the nutrients it needs will not only increase your energy, but also your mood.
5) Utilize the apps available
These days, there is an app for everything. (Check out our article about our favorite travel apps!). Two apps we use regularly are Headspace and Zero. Headspace is a meditation app that allows you to download sessions so you can use them offline. Meditation is a highly effective way to decrease stress, combat anxiety, and be more present.
Zero is an app that tracks our intermittent fasts. We try to fast for 14 hours a day to make sure we’re staying as healthy as possible. Not only does it limit us from overindulging, but the science shows intermittent fasting increases energy in the morning, mental clarity, and levels out sugar levels.
6) If you’re in therapy, find a way to continue and keep up with medications
Leaving Oregon meant that I had to leave my therapist behind. Therapy has been an integral part of my life over the past 4 years and I didn’t want to regress. Luckily, there are multiple options for online therapy these days. BetterHelp is great because they pair you with a licensed therapist for a monthly cost and you can change providers if it isn’t a perfect match.
If you take daily medications, make sure you have enough to cover you throughout your travels. Make sure you carry your prescriptions in their appropriate containers so you don’t run into any trouble, especially if you’re traveling abroad.
Also, make sure your medication is legal in the country you’re traveling to. Some places have strict regulations regarding ADHD medication so be sure to check before you go. Always carry your medication in your carry-on bag, in the proper container, and consider carrying a note from your doctor.
7) Take your vitamins
I used to get sick whenever we traveled until I heard about Wellness Formula. It’s an immune support vitamin that I take a few days before I leave and throughout my travels. It helps to make sure your body has the proper vitamins to fight off new bugs and combat stress and changing sleep patterns.
8) Don’t skip out on sleep
This is as important as drinking enough water because it will impact every aspect of your day. When I don’t get enough sleep, my stress levels increase and I’m irritable. Not compromising on my sleep and comfort makes any sort of routine disruption bearable.
I know most people probably don’t prioritize exercise on short-term vacations, but keeping your exercise routine will impact your mental health during any travel. It’s even more difficult to keep an exercise routine when you’re traveling long term because you won’t always know where you’re going to be or what you’re going to have available.
Even if you just get out and go for a walk or take some time to stretch, you’ll feel better. Try to keep as much exercise in your routine as possible.
10) Drink less alcohol or sub in h2o
This is one that has taken me longer to learn than I’m proud to admit. Vacation usually comes with fun drinks, or for us, trying new breweries. Increased alcohol consumption can have heavy negative impacts on your overall well-being, so try to alternate water with every drink. This will help you to stay hydrated and drink less overall. Yay, no hangover!
11) Be kind to yourself
Ultimately, just be kind to yourself. Travel can be disruptive and it can (and will!) take time to adjust and get into a different routine. If you’re traveling long term, remember to be present, enjoy everything you’re experiencing, take baby steps implementing anything new. If you’re used to waking up at 6 AM and going to your local gym, it’s going to feel different when you can’t do that every day. Adjust, use your resources (like apps and travel blogs like this one!), and find what works best for you without compromising your comfort. It’ll be worth it.
Do what works for you
These tips help me maintain my own self-care. Not everyone works the same way, but these should help guide you in the right direction. Traveling taxes your mind and body, especially long-term travel, so make sure you’re prepared.
Put an action plan in place to help you through tough times, eat as well as possible, drink tons of water, and sleep. When you take care of your mental and physical health, the whole experience lifts. So, take care of yourself and Happy Travels!
Help a deserving organization
Each month, we choose a new charity or organization to support. This month, we’ve chosen The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. Not only have we found one of the best additions to our family we can imagine, but they also are doing great things for the local Oregon area.
We’ve made it easier than ever to support by adding our catalog to our site. Also, we’d love to support a local wildfire organization for next month. Please send us any nonprofits or charities dedicating themselves to helping others affecting by wildfires.
Ric Burnett is a writer currently based in Boston. He contributes regularly to The GoodMen Project and has been published in "The Ascent", "Better Marketing", and "P.S. I Love You" on Medium. Empathetic leadership, building company culture, traveling, learning about new cultures, and experiencing life drive his creative voice.