Traveling isn’t all about lying under a palm tree, reading on the beach. Well, sometimes a big part of it is — once you actual are settled at your destination. Generally, there is a lot of stress when you travel, both physically and mentally. My body really took a toll on me during my first 9 month Round The World trip last year (see our Step-by-Step-Guide here), and it didn’t take long until I realized that I needed to do some serious changes in the way I traveled, if I wanted to continue enjoying it.
10 Ways To Stop Stress When You Travel
There are simple things you can do to reduce the amount of stress that comes with traveling. Here are the changes I made to my traveling lifestyle which really helped me to enjoy each moment more.
Simplify Your Travel To-Do List – a To-Do List is a list of things you want to do in the place you’re visiting, something that is supposed to be fun, not something you need to do in order to feel content and satisfied with your trip. But often this list of fun stuff can easily turn into a Must-Do list which normally ends up equaling stress. It’s easy to get caught up with the list, feeling that the trip won’t be “good enough” if you don’t do everything you’ve planned. All of a sudden I found myself rushing and stressing while obsessively ticking off my To-Do list, not actually enjoying myself at all. Seeing, doing and experiencing new things is supposed to be something fun, not something you’re stressing out about. If you’re stressed, you won’t enjoy any of ,and it’s just a waste of time, money and effort. So I started to limit my travel To-Do list and just chose a few things that I REALLY wanted to do, and that helped me a lot. If you find that you have lots of time over for other things, then that’s fine – but take your time and enjoy yourself — let there be a gap for spontaneity, because that’s when you really get some memorable experiences on your trip!
Set Up Routines – No matter how much you like adventure, action and uncertainty, we all need some routines in order to feel good. I found that making a routine for small things such as specific times when to eat breakfast and lunch made a big difference. Your body loves routines. Try to go to bed and wake up the same time everyday. Soon you won’t have to set your alarm, as your body will know naturally when to get up.
Slow Down – Deadlines to get from point A to point B often force you to speed up the tempo of your body, and once you’re in that fast speed you get used to it and that tempo begins to feels normal. But it’s not until you slow down that you realize how stressful it actually was. When it’s possible, learn how to slow your body down. It’s okay if you choose to stay at a place doing nothing for a longer time. Nothing will happen; you’re not going to miss out on anything. Just slow your pace and learn to enjoy the moment — let the stress simply wash away.
Plan – But Don’t Overdo It – Planning can be great for reducing stress. For example, planning a few days before how and when to get to the airport will save you a lot of stress and anxiousness. Take advantage of the companies out there to help you. For example, Blacklane provides a taxi alternative in more than 180 cities. By not planning, you might realize the same morning your flight leaves that your hotel doesn’t drive you to the airport, so check those kinds of details — so you don’t find yourself at the last minute running to the flight gate. It’s such an unnecessary thing that creates too much stress, and that extra hour you spend in the city instead of waiting on an airport really isn’t worth the possible stress. However, by over-planning you can actually create even more stress because you will keep thinking about the future, about what you’re going to do next, and trying to stick with the schedule. Try to find a nice balance between these two.
Don’t Try to Control the Uncontrollable – There is no use worrying about something you can’t control anyway. Accept whatever happens and deal with it the best way you can. By trying to control something or react to something you can’t do anything about — you’re just stressing yourself out for no reason and nothing will get better that way. Instead ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it, if not, then accept it and let it go. This is something I had to practice for a while, but when I started learning how to deal with it, everything suddenly had a complete different flow, and I was actually happier.
Learn to Get Over It and Forgive – Okay you got tricked and paid more than you should have at the street market, or something didn’t quite turn out the way you expected it…. Get over it fast! Going on and on regretting and complaining about something you can’t change just make things worse. Don’t beat yourself up about things you do, learn to forgive yourself and travel partner for making novice mistakes. What’s done is done, learn from your mistake and move on. Besides, many things that look dark at the moment, will be a funny memory sooner than you think. It’s often the mistakes we tend to laugh about the most afterwards, and those are usually the ones people want to hear about as well.
Eat Healthy – A diet filled with processed foods and fast foods is never good, but especially when traveling. With so many new things around you, your body gets very easily tense and weak. Eating non-nutrious food gets you clogged up faster, opening you up for sickness. Stress and a bad diet often equals constipation or diarrhea, among other things.
Create Your Own Me-Time Space – Make time for your own ‘me-time.’ Take some time and just hang out with yourself. Traveling in groups or as a couple is a lot of fun, but some quality time with yourself is important; it’s easy to forget about yourself when traveling. By taking some time to listen to your mind, you’ll find out how you really feel. Often we don’t hear ourselves and don’t understand that we are stressed until our body just collapses on us, or until we take it out on our travel partners.
Be Aware Of Changes Within Your Body – In order to ‘heal’ yourself, you first have to be able to recognize problems when they come up. If you notice something different, don’t shake it off right away. Analyze it a bit, and try to remember when it started and if there are any connections to your traveling.
Here is a list of typical stress symptoms to be aware of:
- Weakened immune system
- Irregular periods
- Digestive problems
- Sleep problems
- Suddenly very short tempered
- Nerve twitches
- Skin conditions such as acne and eczema
- Colds and sinus infections
- Inflammatory illness such as urine infections
Find The Time To Exercise – Experts say that the best way to manage stress is through exercise. It relaxes the mind and body and increases energy. It helps you sleep better, gets rid of toxins in your body and can actually make you happier. Exercising causes the release of chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream. These give you a feeling of happiness and affect your well-being. Exercising when traveling can be tough, but a simple walk can be make you feel better.
How Do We Travel Continuously Without Getting Burnt Out?
A lot of it comes down to how attached you are to having a home. It’s about finding out how much certainty you need in your life. It seems like the less certainty you need (the more uncertainty you can handle), the longer you can travel and stay happy. One way we found helped a lot when traveling was to create daily routines.
What people really want isn’t a house to call home, but the feeling of structure which that gives them. If your life has some kind of structure, you will feel safer and more certain no matter where in the world you are. It doesn’t have to be something big, it could be something as small as having a morning routine. To wake up every day at the same time and go for a walk before breakfast, or having your meals at specific times of the day. It also comes down to how you as an individual handle stress and new situations.
If you don’t take the time everyday to get into a relaxed state, traveling will burn you out before you know it. We put A LOT of focus on making sure we do this when we travel. Another important factor is to try and be in the moment and actively be grateful for your life and everything around you. Maybe on a walk you can take five minutes to think about all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. This usually put things straight if you start to question what the heck you’re doing. Always worrying about the future can create a lot of stress in your head. It’s good to think methodically, but not getting attached to the future and what MIGHT happen.
It is possible to reduce stress when you travel. Rushing through countries and seeing everything doesn’t make the trip any better than staying a bit longer at a place until you feel ready to continue. Sit back and relax; nothing really is more important than your own personal mental health. Take the world one step at a time, and you will find you can travel for a very long time and STILL enjoy it as much as your first day away.