Here are my recommended strategies. Some of them I practiced in the past, but they have taken on greater meaning and importance on this trip.
- Gratitude. Every day I write down 3 things I am grateful for, and what I affirm for myself. I always feel uplifted by this simple practice.
- Forgiveness. Every day I do a brief but deep ritual to release blame and judgement of myself and others – a practice that was recommended to me while in Bali, and feels awesome.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Although I no longer do this every day, I certainly practice EFT when I notice stress or a down feeling. It helps me express loneliness and missing loved ones, and move through the emotions. I no longer neglect important feelings.
- Longer stays in one location. If I am only 1-2 days in a place, there is little time to relax and rest; my mind is too active thinking about the next steps. My minimum stay is 3-4 days. If I do have to limit the stay, I avoid creating an overly-busy schedule on the following day.
- Home stays over hostels or hostels. While I have stayed in hostels and hotels that were well-managed and where I met terrific people, I can relax better in a home, have privacy, and enjoy the comforts of a kitchen, living room, sometimes even a garden or terrace, and often friendly, helpful hosts. (As I write this, I am appreciating an opportunity to stay in a sweet home in Australia for 12 days to take care of two adorable dogs while the homeowner visits her son!)
- Reduction of departure stress. It’s hard to leave a great place you have gotten to enjoy and know, and the new friends you have made. I am extra gentle with myself at departure time, practicing positive self-talk, and writing in my journal what I have loved and want to remember. If the place makes my “Return Here” list, I feel better. This was just the first round – see you again!
- Reduction of arrival stress. Everything is new again when you first arrive, which can be stressful. I get my directions in advance, figure out the transport, get local currency, double-check the schedule, and try not to arrive too late at night. When helpful people come across my path, I am extra grateful. Especially if I do have to arrive in the middle of the night, as in Trivandrum (great to meet you, David!). Over time I am getting used to the fact that I may get lost, but things work out; I don’t stress as readily now about arrivals.
- Healthy food, clean water, and not eating late at night. This may seem obvious, but when you travel there are many temptations to be irregular or cheat. Eating a balanced meal, drinking green juices, and limiting sugar and alcohol, is all common sense. If I’m not sure about the water I take out my handy little ultraviolet light purifier. By not eating after 8 pm, my body can rest and restore itself more easily.
- Taking opportunities for detoxing and self-care. I make sure to have saunas, massages, body scrubs, and reflexology as I travel. I treat myself more when the services are both excellent and low-cost, as was the case in India (where I loved receiving my first Ayurvedic massage in Udaipur) as well as in Thailand and Bali.
- Staying in touch. It’s not always easy to stay in touch while traveling. I use Skype, Face Time and sometimes the phone and email. With free VoIP and low-cost phone service I am blessed to talk to friends and family when I can, even though the technology doesn’t always cooperate and I have to juggle time zones. I also post pictures and share on Facebook, where I get to see what is going on with my community as well. It would be a lot lonelier and stressful without feeling the love! Now that I am blogging, I expect meaningful interaction to increase, and I’m stoked about that (as well as all the hugs awaiting for when I return to visit!) Let me know in the comments your thoughts about self-care on the road, and what you liked about this post.
In addition to these practices, I walk a lot and do yoga. I make use of a small health kit that travels with me – it contains vitamins, minerals, homeopathic remedies for common ailments, pain meds, and a bottle of Chinese herbs. I also carry traveler’s health insurance for emergencies.
Having learned to balance my schedule and manage stress, there is less to worry about, and I stay pretty healthy. With balance, noticing and addressing what is going on, and being gentle with myself, more of me is available to the journey – to enjoy what is before me, what has just passed by, and to feel more gratitude for the wonderful and precious people in my life, both familiar and just-met.
How do you manage travel stress? Any tips to add? Let me know in the comments.
See you on the road!