Travel is exciting and has many benefits, but while exploring all of the new and exciting places it’s important to also make sure you are looking after your mental health while traveling long term, so here are 10 mental health tips for travel.
Many people discover a life of travel in order to help fulfill themselves and live better lives. However, traveling is not always roses, sunshine, and a badass new experience. There are a whole new world of stresses and anxieties that come along with long term travel. So how can you take care of yourself while traveling long term?
Top 10 Mental Health Tips For Travel
Be Active and Exercise
Exercise has been proven to provide all sorts of benefits for both mental and physical health. The benefits include reduced stress, improved mood, better sleep, and more energy. Traveling long term can make it difficult to establish and maintain a routine and exercise is one of the first things that gets cut when we get busy. But it is important to find time for some movement in your day. Whether it’s an at home workout, taking a long walk, stretching and yoga in the evening, make sure you to make the time to exercise. It’ll help you feel better overall.
Give Yourself Rest Days
While traveling, it’s exciting to want to explore everything a new city or town has to offer. However, the more on the go you are, the more likely you are to burn yourself out. Give yourself days to rest so you don’t overwork yourself physically and mentally. Take time to catch up on your favorite TV show or movies. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, while catching up on your reading or favorite podcasts. Whatever you decide to do, just rest from the go, go, go of the travel hustle and bustle.
Eating healthy has many mental health benefits. This includes boosting your mood and increasing your energy. One of the most enjoyable things about traveling long term and exploring new places, is also exploring and enjoying the local dishes. To maintain good mental health, it is important to avoid acting like you are on constant vacation and eating all the delicious unhealthy foods. Instead, make sure you are balancing with good healthy foods.
Get Sleep as Regularly as You Can
Long term traveling means you are more frequently on the go than normal. Depending on the type of traveler you are, that could mean early mornings, late nights, and/or overnight travel. It can also mean many different time zones. So sleep is almost certain to be negatively impacted.
Find ways to practice good sleep hygiene in order to get as much regular sleep as you can. This could mean doing things before bed to help you wind down, such as turning off your phone, TV, or computer 30 minutes or more before sleep, taking a warm bath or shower, changing into comfortable clothing, etc. If there is a lot of noise in the area, try using earplugs, headphones, and/or using white noise.
Meditate and Practice Mindfulness
Practicing meditation and mindfulness not only has positive health benefits, but also allows you to remain in the present moment. There can be so much excitement and so much going on while traveling long term that it can be difficult to remain in the moment and remember to stay calm. Mindfulness meditation is a huge stress reducer and can be done almost anywhere.
Take some moments each day to sit quietly and focus on your breathing, pay attention to the sounds and smells while out walking, or feel the water on your feet and sand under your toes at the beach. Meditation has been proven to boost your mood which can be extremely important in the stresses and anxieties of long term traveling.
Take time at the end of each day to journal – whether it’s on physical paper or a word document. Keeping a journal is a great way to provide perspective on the day and to preserve memories. Writing in a journal can also help you identify any negative thoughts and behaviors that you may engage in and help you work to reframe them to make them more positive. Keeping a journal is also a great way to look back on your travel experiences.
Avoid Overusing Substances
Substances like alcohol depress your nervous system and can negatively affect your mental health. Of course while traveling, we may want to enjoy beer, wine, or other alcohol, but remember to take it easy. Also, other non-alcohol substances can also cause increases in anxiety, paranoia, depression, and other physical concerns. Using substances may also impact your decision making skills and place you in potentially hazardous situations. So if you want to enjoy, do so responsibly but remember to go easy and give your mind and body breaks.
Reach Out to Family and Friends as Often as Possible
Being away from your community can be one of the most difficult parts of traveling. Humans are social creatures and therefore require some form of social interaction. Of course, if you are a social butterfly, you can make friends while traveling. However, it is still important to find time to communicate with family and friends you may have left at home. Make an effort to call, text, or video chat when possible. Schedule times with family and friends for regular communication. This will greatly increase your mental well-being and decrease feelings of loneliness.
Make a Plan/Create a Routine
Having a plan can decrease the stress that may come with the complications of traveling. Of course that does not mean you should not be a little spontaneous. However, having a plan can greatly decrease the stress of traveling.
This also means you should try to create a routine wherever you are in the world. Create a plan for your sleep, meals, exercise, work, etc. This does not mean you shouldn’t leave some room for spontaneity, but having a daily routine decreases anxiety and makes us more relaxed.
Engage in Self-Care Activities
This sort of encompasses everything we’ve discussed so far. But I will say, besides everything mentioned above, find time to engage in activities you enjoy. Really into tennis? Find somewhere you can play or a club you can join. Love to read? Take time every day to relax and read. Do things to reward yourself, like getting a massage, a manicure, a facial. Whatever it is you enjoy and makes you feel relaxed and refreshed, do those things!
Long term travel can help find time for slowing down. However, many travelers want to optimize their time and are always on the go to see everything. Allow yourself time to just spend a day relaxing, on the couch, watching Netflix (if that’s your thing).
I am Veronica, an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor who is currently traveling long term with my husband Sean. Maintaining good mental health matters to me and is something I make an effort to actively work on every day. Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips to improve your mental health while traveling.