Positive mental health and travel don’t always go hand-in-hand. We’re no strangers to receiving advice on how to stay physically fit and healthy while we travel, but what about your mental health? Here’s some top tips on how to stay healthy while travelling.
There’s no more surefire way to ruin the trip of a lifetime than by neglecting to attend to your mind alongside your body, because despite how it may appear, bad days can happen in paradise too!
Nerves Are Normal
It’s important to remember that certain amount of anxiety, nerves, and general traveler’s jitters are normal and to be expected when embarking on a solo journey. However, this can also make it difficult to decipher when an issue becomes larger than what you’re used to dealing with.
Even by being aware and in control of tendencies to indulge in certain thought patterns or habits, people who are prone to suffer from mental health complaints may find it hard to adapt to new and ever-changing surroundings as they travel. Familiar or ‘go-to’ self-care methods simply might not be as accessible to them as they would be at home.
With this in mind, here’s a list of alternative ‘go-to’ methods and techniques to help you mind your mind whilst traveling, and ensure both you and your mental health stay happy on-the-go!
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Stay Active While Traveling
Even though traveling places you in a sort of constant state of motion, there’s a difference between this type of movement and consciously moving your body. Whether you’re a surfer, a gym bunny, a yogi, a runner – it really doesn’t matter. Just because you’re nowhere near your usual training haunts or studio does not mean you cannot engage with your body. Iron out the creases that 14-hour plane journeys leave embedded into our systems!
Usually a quick Google search will find you a nearby gym, track, or yoga studio, & Southeast Asia also has no shortage of outdoor exercising hubs. Many hostels run yoga classes and will have information on other nearby places, activities, walks, or hikes to get your blood pumping. As mental health is somewhat reliant on the body’s physical condition, exercising regularly is a pretty obvious but also key factor when aiming to balance mental health and travel!
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Keep In Touch
Contacting home and reaching out should never be seen as a sign of weakness. We all need to check in sometimes to reassure both our family and ourselves that things are okay, or to admit that we simply might need a chat. It can be isolating and scary to be so far away from home.
Although you’ll make close friends on your travels, no one really ‘gets it’ quite like the friends or family you’ve known forever. They’ll be happier knowing you took the time to contact them properly instead of sending a mysterious or vague message that might leave them worried.
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Have a ‘Me’ Day
It’s not selfish, and you’re not being weird. This particular tip is relevant no matter where you are. Taking time for yourself is vital to returning to a place of self-awareness and calm acceptance of your surroundings, be they familiar or not.
‘Mental Health Days’ exist and are a legitimate excuse to take some time out no matter where or how you spend them: take a long walk by yourself, decide to explore a certain area unaccompanied – there’s no shame in wanting to be alone. Chances are you’ve been overwhelmed by meeting dorm rooms-full of cool new people, and while socializing is great, it can also get very draining.
Make sure to reserve some energy for yourself and treat yourself to a nice ‘me’ day where all you do is, well….treat yo’self!!! #YouDoYouBoo
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Remind Yourself Why You’re Here
It can be difficult at times to remain in the ‘strong and independent’ frame of mind many people have come to associate with solo travelers. A lot of the time, you and the people you encounter along the way are searching to find something similar and ironically, you will probably realize somewhere along your travels that you have had that inner strength you’re seeking within yourself all along.
At the risk of sounding too clichéd, it’s your journey, and everyone you meet is somewhere in the middle of their own, too. Make sure not to judge or compare your progress, experiences, plans (or lack thereof) with anyone who you meet. In moments where you’re tempted, remind yourself what made you want to travel in the first place. Positive mental health and travel can go hand in hand, sometimes.
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Stop Looking for ‘Happiness’
It’s a travel-cliché, but there’s actually a good deal of truth in it: once you settle into the rhythm of moving from place to place on a regular basis, it’s easy to become too focused on reaching a certain goal or destination. You forget to just enjoy the journey along the way.
Fortunately, traveling can help us to develop a love and appreciation for the present moment, and many people who return from an extended trip abroad report a newfound ability to ‘enjoy the little things’. With surroundings and company constantly changing, it becomes less tempting (and you have less time!) to dwell on past anxieties or mistakes. You might even start to enjoy being happy right now and ‘living in the moment’, as the most famous & clichéd sayings tell us to!
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Push Yourself to Engage
Taking ‘me time’ here and there is vital for your mental health and travel, but human beings ultimately thrive on communication and social interaction. The nature of traveling puts us into contact with an incredible variety and amount of potential new acquaintances, experiences, and walks of life. These interactions can leave our souls glowing after even the briefest encounter.
A local family down the road could use some help painting their house, or the shy waiter who’s struggling with his English skills may be looking for someone to practice with. The opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture really are endless when you know where to look and push yourself just that little bit to engage. Even if it ends up not working out exactly as you thought it would there’s rarely an experience traveling that doesn’t result in a good story!
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Eat Well
This is a bit of an obvious one, but it helps to be reminded sometimes. It’s very easy to get carried away with all the food tasting, cookery classes, and sheer variety of new foods and treats to try in new countries. As with all things however, we must learn to enjoy these delights in moderation if we’re to maintain our physical and mental health during a long period of travel.
Too much of anything is too much, and disruptive or excessive eating and drinking habits will ultimately leave us drained. Again, the beauty of Google and also word-of-mouth means that it’s simple to find healthy options, be they vegetarian, vegan, or simply just less stuffed with oil and fried mystery-meat than your average street stall!
Note: Fruit is key here. Asia offers an abundance of all the beautifully fresh fruit you could imagine at very low cost, so make the most of this! Challenge yourself to taste a new one every day.
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Write It Out
Journaling is common amongst travelers and is highly effective for relieving stress and promoting positive mental health. Sometimes it can change everything to just sit down with a pen and paper and write out exactly what you’re feeling, whether it’s overwhelmed, homesick, anxious, fed up, heartbroken, or all of the above (traveling can be damn hard sometimes!).
It really helps to just write it out with no agenda or expectation of gaining a million views or likes on Instagram. Write for you. We guarantee that getting it out of your head and onto the page will help even slightly to lessen whatever stresses you find yourself facing.
Note: Doing so on a pristine beach or in the company of a yummy fresh coconut drink might just help even more!
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Find a Routine
While it’s pretty much impossible to guarantee you’ll stick to an exact routine during a long stint of traveling, it can help to have one or two staple daily activities to keep you grounded. Whether it’s a morning yoga practice or exercise routine, daily coffee fix, or simply half an hour reading a book or writing before you go to bed, the stability this consistency can encourage is extremely beneficial to your mental health and travel. If you find yourself staying in a place for a longer duration of time this may be easier to maintain, which leads us on to the next point…
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Pace Yourself
Pace yourself… and not just with your alcohol consumption! Traveling too quickly and trying to see too much in a short time will ultimately wear you out both mentally and physically. You’ll end up seeing much less than you’d initially intended. Many travelers look back and regret rushing on from an awesome place where they only spent single day or night, when they would have happily enjoyed a week.
Traveling is a marathon, not a sprint, and it pays to prioritize consistency, contentment, and positive mental health over squeezing in too many stop-offs or destinations.
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling – Sleep is Key
Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep while you travel. Sleep benefits both your physical and mental health. Sometimes on the road you have to be creative with your naps, but no matter where you find the opportunity to catch a few zzz’s it’s always worth at least giving it a shot! It’s a skill that takes some time to master, but being able to relax in uncomfortable situations (buses, train stations, awkward dorms…) is totally worth it. Sleep really should be top of your list of things to maintain your mental health while you travel.
More To Read About How To Stay Healthy While Traveling
If you’d like to further explore the realm of maintaining positive mental and physical health while you travel, here are some more great links to check out! We only recommend blogs that we read often and trust.
- Hostelworld – Essential Tips of How To Stay Healthy While Backpacking
- The Skinny Confidential –How to Stay Healthy (and Happy!) While Travelling
- Travel With Kate – 5 Tips For Dealing with Travel Anxiety
- Verywell.com – Tips For Travelling With Panic Disorder and Anxiety
- Yoga International – 9 Ayurvedic Travel Tips
- Nomadic Matt – The Foolproof Guide to Staying in shape While Travelling
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