Travel can be an exhilarating adventure, a cathartic soul journey. But when you take away the fluff and reduce it to its simplest terms, it’s ultimately a lifestyle. Any lifestyle you choose has its own demands, and the travel lifestyle in particular can be demanding. I’d even go so far as to say that traveling can be one of the most physically and mentally challenging things you can do.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter where you go, your #1 priority must be your own self. Some tough times on the road will always be inevitable, but taking some vital steps to ensure you’re sound in body and mind will go a long way in overcoming these challenges as well as maximizing the positive moments you’ll appreciate on your travels.
What do these steps include?
Fuel and hydrate yourself.
Even in grade school, we were all taught that food is fuel for your body. Yes, food sustains you and gives you the energy needed to keep traveling, so it’s important that you keep yourself nourished at regular intervals, with the right kinds of foods. Go for vegetables, proteins, and dishes cooked in a healthy style instead of fried or fast food. Picking up fresh ingredients at the supermarket and whipping up your own meal in the AirBnb or hostel kitchen is a great way to eat healthy while saving money.
Secondly, adequate hydration is extremely important. The effects of mild dehydration are minor and can initially seem like symptoms of unrelated problems, but can gradually worsen. Skip the sugary drinks and instead keep your system running optimally with water (perhaps infused with lemon or fresh fruit), the only liquid your body truly needs.
Bring along a water bottle that you can take anywhere and refill wherever you go.
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Traveling the world doesn’t automatically make you a physically active person. If much of your trip consists of prolonged periods of sitting on public transportation, vegging out at the hostel, or lazy days at the beach, you might find those hostel bar beers showing up on your midsection.
Keep yourself fit with one of the best natural antidepressants, regular exercise. Walking can be both an effective, scenic way to explore the town and effortlessly sneak a workout in. Gyms are ubiquitous, and there are numerous stretches and exercises you can do with just your body and sufficient space. Your mind and body will thank you for keeping your flexibility, strength, and endurance up, I guarantee it.
But give yourself adequate time to unwind.
At the other end of the spectrum, moving from place to place, exploring cities, visiting attractions, and meeting new people day after day will wear you down. Your spirit may be in nonstop adventure mode, but your mind and body need TLC; travel burnout is a very real thing.
Set aside 1-2 days per week to do whatever helps you unwind, whether that means a trip to the spa or massage parlor or shutting yourself away from the world to eat Chinese takeout and binge-watch Netflix for a day.
Don’t be swayed by FOMO.
The all-too-common belief that there are certain landmarks you must see or activities you have to do in a particular city in order to have a fulfilling trip is simply ludicrous. You don’t have to see the Eiffel Tower if you’re in Paris, or the Coliseum in Rome, or the Great Wall of China.
When you travel, you can play by your own rules and see what you wish to see, so don’t feel bad for not including a particular popular sight/activity in your itinerary (or don’t burn yourself out trying to add these things to your list).
If you’re on a budget, give yourself some wiggle room.
Look, I get it: those of us who are less fortunate want to maximize our time on the road by spending less. But would you really settle for a crappy dorm bed in the city’s sketchiest hostel just to shave a few dollars off your daily expenses?
Cheap is great, but poor judgment like this can come back to haunt you; the phrase you get what you pay for is fitting for this situation. Penny wise, pound foolish also comes to mind…
Not ideal. Spending that occasional extra for some comfort or convenience, on the other hand, can lift your spirits and refresh you. Sure, there may be cheaper, lower-quality options, but splurging a little can be worth it.
Worry less about the number of dollars you might spend and instead focus on finding the best value with the money you have.
Ground yourself with routines and a sense of home.
The hectic, highly unpredictable nature of traveling can leave one feeling lost, confused, or overwhelmed.
It’s therefore crucial to establish something constant that you can call your own amidst the mayhem. Whether it’s meditation, journaling, or adult coloring books, implementing consistent habits or hobbies that you can do anywhere can help keep you grounded by establishing some familiarity in ever-changing places and situations.
Or sometimes visiting a new, foreign culture can be a shock to the system. A great way to ease into it is to look for things that remind you of your life back home, past or present, and go from there.
Travel doesn’t have to mean seeing only new things all the time – sometimes you yearn for the good old days, the familiar, and that’s an important part of it too.
The underlying theme behind all of this advice is maintaining good physical and mental health. To make your traveling as successful and fulfilling as it can be, you have to be in touch with how you feel and take the necessary measures to keep yourself firing on all cylinders.
It’s not always easy to do, especially if it means occasionally putting adventure on hold, but you’re guaranteed to make it much further traveling when you take care of yourself.