Thinking about self-care when traveling isn’t always easy. With so much going on at once, taking good care of yourself may be the last thing on your mind.
For many of us, traveling is a form of self-care anyway, and I believe it’s one of the best forms of self-care. But it can also be really easy to ignore warning signs and neglect your health when you are off exploring. So here is a rundown of ways to practice self-care while you’re traveling.
Why does self-care matter while traveling?
If you’ve ever got ill while traveling, you will know firsthand that it can really spoil the whole experience. Feeling run-down, exhausted, or just not feeling your best is just not a great recipe for an amazing time overseas.
Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s potentially more likely that you will have a lapse in your mental or physical health when you travel. There are long periods of time spent on planes, in airports, and on other transportation, time differences (jet lag guys!), and so many activities to squeeze in that getting sick is always a possibility.
Quick Tips For Stress-Free Travel
Travel, especially during busy times, can get really stressful. Big crowds, constant queuing for things, long waiting times, and tourist attractions getting booked up can really crank up your anxiety and stress levels.
Thankfully there are a few things that you can do intentionally to minimize chances of getting really stressed and anxious while you’re travelling, and enjoying the sights.
- Plan Ahead: Take time to plan the main aspects of your trip as far in advance as possible. Research your travel route, and activities, as well as book accommodation and anything else that is likely to sell out.
- Pack light: Travelling with just a carry-on case is an absolute game changer. It’s easier to move around, less worry about your bag staying safe and you won’t have to spend ages at baggage reclaim hoping that your bag appears.
- Take breaks: Don’t overextend yourself. Include short breaks during your travels to relax and recharge by actually including rest periods in your itinerary.
- Be open-minded: Don’t let any unexpected surprises get you down like a delayed flight. Instead Instead treat everything as an adventure and stay open to new experiences.
34 Ways To Practice Self-Care When Traveling
These self-care ideas will help you to keep your energy levels up, your mental state clear and your body ready for all your adventures while safeguarding against getting sick.
These are all easy ways to take care of yourself whenever you travel.
Stay Hydrated While On The Move
Keep a reusable water bottle in your travel bag to ensure you stay hydrated. It will make it easier to drink plenty of water, and you will save a lot of money too.
Take Multi-Vitamins Every Day
Multi-vitamins are a great way to ensure you are still getting all your required vitamin intakes while you are enjoying all of your vacation treats.
Don’t Skip Breakfast When Your Traveling
The most important meal of the day should never be skipped especially when you travel. As your first meal after fasting overnight while you sleep, it replenishes the glucose in your body to boost your energy levels and alertness. Breakfast also provides other essential nutrients needed for good health.
So even if you are not really a breakfast person, just having a healthy light bite with your morning drink will help you stay at your best.
Stay In Accommodation With A Kitchen
If self-care and eating healthily means cooking your own meals then staying somewhere with a kitchen is a good option for you.
for you means cooking your own food and having your own space to create and prepare healthy meals then make sure to always go for accommodation with a kitchen when traveling.
Going out to eat and experiencing the local food culture is wonderful, but if you’re traveling for a longer period of time, it can get tiresome and expensive.
Being able to prepare your own meals according to your nutritional needs is a self-care ritual in itself when traveling.
Eat Some Healthy Foods
On vacation or extended travels, generally, diets go out the window. Eating more treats, trying different local foods, eating out all the time, and drinking more can all lead to getting unwell. So include some healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables in your meals.
For example, drinking fruit juice or a smoothie, ordering a side bowl of fresh fruit with your brunch, or adding a salad to your lunch are all easy ways to add fruit and veg without restricting yourself.
Enjoy everything in moderation
This means sweets, alcohol, fast food, and even coffee. It’s tough to say no to that bar crawl or late-night deep-fried goodness, but if you’re tuckered out from traveling, these things won’t help. When you’re feeling particularly sluggish and tired, it’s time to take a break from partying too much and then wake up and chug that espresso. Swap the booze and fast food for more water and vegetables. You’ll notice a swift turn-around in your energy.
Get Creative While Your Travelling
One of my favorite acts of self-care is to do anything creative. It’s easy to just get wrapped up in excursions and tours on your travels, and neglect everything outside of that.
Doing something creative allows you to express yourself. and learn more about yourself. Whether you would enjoy writing, painting, crafts, cooking, or singing, make time to do it for yourself.
Watch A Movie
After a long day exploring, get cozy in your hotel room and watch your favorite movie. Taking a break from non-stop planning, and new surroundings will help you to recharge your batteries and switch off for a bit.
Keep A Travel Journal
One of the best ways to practice self-care when you’re traveling is to slow down and enjoy the present moment. So take time to enjoy and reflect on the experiences that you are having by keeping a travel journal.
Have A Chilled No-Plans Day
If like me, you always try to plan every single movement of your travels, this is your permission to take it easy.
Whether you just go to bed without setting your alarm or wander around without an agenda for the day, it will give your mind and body a rest,
And if you feel like you need a longer break mentally and physically, try taking a whole day off from plans and activities.
Celebrate Your Wins
Sometimes traveling especially overseas can feel really challenging and tiring. From experiencing different cultures, trying to understand new languages, and feeling conscious, you may feel drained or anxious sometimes.
So acknowledge how well you have handled difficult moments. Did you figure out how to get somewhere on public transit? Did you ask for the bill or say thank you to a waiter, did you make a new friend today? Write everything down, and celebrate all of it.
By taking time to reflect on everything you’ve done for yourself it will give you a boost in confidence.
Have Breakfast In Bed
Breakfast in bed is such an indulgence that we rarely treat ourselves to. There is no better time than a vacation to give yourself the gift of a slow morning. Order room service, put your ‘ do not disturb’ sign on the door, and tuck into a delicious breakfast under the covers.
Stay home ‘suite’ home
When you’re traveling, you are likely rushing around squeezing as much into a day as humanly possible to avoid missing out on anything. And that lovely hotel room you treated yourself to is left empty most of the time.
So this is a public announcement to remind you to enjoy the luxury of your accommodation. Relax in style with huge beds, plush cushions and duvets, room service, and big bathtubs.
Let Go Of Expectations
Have you ever visited a destination that you had high hopes about, and then felt really disappointed when you discovered it wasn’t what you dreamed of?
Firstly what you see on TV, movies and social media is generally a glossed-up, edited version of reality. So don’t expect everything to be like the videos and photos you’ve seen.
Secondly, you are pretty much guaranteed to not enjoy your experiences to the fullest if a destination doesn’t meet your unrealistic exceptions.
An open mind and a go-with-the-flow attitude is the best way to travel. Often you will find that when things don’t go as planned, something surprising will come your way if you stay positive and make the best of everything.
Pack A First Aid Kit In Your Luggage
Basic first aid and medications can get really expensive very quickly so include some basic first aid in your luggage.
Include things like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any other supplies you might need. You should also bring along some pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help ease minor aches and pains.
Have A Spa Day
Whether you go to a spa or resort or pamper yourself in your hotel room, a spa day will reinvigorate you, and encourage you to slow down.
Enjoy a manicure and pedicure, face and body treatments, spa and Jacuzzi, massage, basically anything that will leave you feeling blissfully relaxed.
Make A Self-Care Travel Kit
One way to remind yourself to practice self-care while you traveling is to take a self-care travel kit with you.
Your self-care travel kit can just be the basic essentials you need on the road, or it can be an elaborate kit to pamper yourself on low days. The key is to customize it to suit you. Just ensure that it will be easy to transport in your travel luggage.
Things you could include in your kit are:
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Face sheet mask
- Reusable water bottle
- Yoga mat or travel towel
- Dry shampoo
- Body wipes
Treat Yourself To A Beauty Treatment
Book yourself a massage, facial, or any other beauty treatment that will make you feel fabulous.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
Your sleep schedule will massively impact your energy levels, health, and your mood so try to still keep a decent sleep schedule. And if you have some late nights, mix those in with earlier nights or some lay-ins.
Also, include things like an eye mask or earplugs in your self-care travel kit if that will help you to sleep for a solid eight hours.
Recharge your batteries just like you recharge your devices, your future self will be grateful that you did.
Laze by the pool
Having a pool day or at least spending a few hours at the pool is always a good idea. Relax, get a tan, drink yummy cocktails, read a book, and just enjoy your pool with your view.
Do Something Active
Whether you just do some yoga or morning stretches, or something more strenuous, sometimes our bodies just need more than the exercise they get from walking.
Read A Book
Reading a book is another great way to relax and take a break from all your travel activities. It will encourage you to unplug for a bit and rest.
Make An Effort With People You Meet
During your travels, you will meet a lot of diverse and interesting people. Rather than just engage in small talk with people, make an effort to have more meaningful conversations. Hear their stories, and make connections. It will make your travel experiences richer. You also just never know who you could meet or where it could lead.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Live in the moment, and be adventurous on your travels. You may never return to wherever you are so say yes to new experiences. Try the local cuisine, book the tour, take a class, and go in that helicopter.
Talk To Someone You Love
If you start feeling homesick, or lonely talk to someone close to you for free on WhatsApp, Messenger, or Skype.
You can catch up on any gossip back home, and talk to them about how you are feeling.
Enjoy The Sun
Sunrises and sunsets are rarely something enjoyed at home, so commit to watching the sunrise or sunset at least once while you are away. Or every day if you find it beneficial.
Personally, I think golden hour is the best hour so I try to catch it at least once or twice. No two sunrises or sunsets are ever the same. They all have their own unique colors and beauty, and it’s just a lovely way to start and end the day.
Celebrate these beautiful, peaceful moments. And don’t forget to look up at the stars too.
Get outside in nature
Getting outside in nature is great for your mental health, and can make you feel peaceful and rested in a way that nothing else can. So take some time out to enjoy a local park or forest or go for a hike.
Plan Self-Care Activities
Rather than just set aside time, actually plan self-care activities for those time slots, and make it fun.
Look for relaxing places to go, and activities to do in the places you are visiting. It could be going to a local spa, using the fitness center, getting a beauty treatment, or taking a class.
Unplug From Your Devices
It is so tempting to constantly be on your phone posting photos and videos on Instagram, checking your email, or reading messages but you won’t be able to fully experience your adventures if you are distracted by technology.
Put your phone away for a few hours or days, and allow yourself to fully enjoy your surroundings. Or put your phone on airplane mode so that you are only using it to take pictures if your phone is your camera.
Your phone and social media can wait until the end of the day in your hotel. It will do wonders for your mental and emotional health.
Slow Down & Linger Longer
Find moments of calm and reflection during your travels where you can just be in the present moment and appreciate your surroundings.
Do you really want to be that person who needs a vacation from your vacation? When you focus on how to practice self-care, make sure to take some time for yourself during your trip and prioritize finding moments of calm, even during a frantic day.
Travel can get busy and stressful but, by finding a few moments every day for yourself and for moments of peace you can come home feeling grounded and refreshed.
Is it me or is traveling absolutely exhausting sometimes? In the past, I’ve returned home from a vacation feeling like I need another vacation.
Avoid travel burnout, by spending more quality time at each place, rather than rushing around trying to cram things in. You’ll have more time to really immerse yourself in a destination. It will also make it easier for you to balance activities with relaxation and self-care.
It will also make it easier to navigate any challenges or bumps in your travels like a late or cancelled train.
Also just being more flexible with your travel plans, and giving yourself more time to travel between destinations will make your trip more relaxing. You can sleep in, laze at the pool or just wander around without feeling like you have to stick to a strict itinerary.
Have A Picnic
Try local foods in the place you’re exploring and relax at the same time by having a picnic. Visit local food markets and shops to pick up a selection of delicious-looking foods and then find a local park or beach to go and relax in.
Don’t Try To Control Everything
Things happen on vacation all the time. You might have crap weather on the day you had planned an outdoor activity or maybe your flight is delayed and you are stuck at an airport for a bit.
Whatever the setback or disappointment don’t let it spoil your whole trip. There will always be things that are outside of your control when you are traveling.
And sometimes these surprises and setbacks actually end up becoming really fond memories. For instance, I once had a train I had booked derail, and my friend and I ended up on American TV. It messed with our plans a little but to this day it’s something we still laugh about.
A sense of humor, some patience, and flexibility will make all the difference in your adventures.
Schedule Your Self-Care Time
Regardless of whether you are at home or traveling, self-care usually needs to be scheduled otherwise it gets overlooked.
Just set aside some time every day to practice self-care. It could be 30 minutes in the morning and evening, or an hour during the day. Whatever feels right for you, and works with your travel plans. What matters is that you schedule it.
So what do you think of this list of ways to practice self-care while traveling? I always try and do at least a few things whenever I’m traveling but it isn’t always easy.
Whether you are great at prioritizing your self-care or not, I hope this post gives you some ideas on how to take good care of yourself when you travel.
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Gemma Lawrence is the creator of This Brits Life. Born and raised in England, she has been living in British Columbia, Canada as a permanent resident since 2016. A solo traveler for the past 9 years, she hopes to inspire and help others to enjoy solo adventures too. As someone who has always struggled with her self-confidence and mental health, she also shares tips and inspirational stories relating to self-love, self-care, and mental health.