21 Ways to Practice Self Care While Traveling

Maybe you’ve been hearing it everywhere: self care. Maybe you haven’t heard it at all yet! Regardless, it seems to have become a bit of a buzzword lately. And for good reason, too! I am all aboard the self-care train, but sometimes it can be hard to keep up with on your travels. But no fear! I’m here today to share some of my absolute favorite ways to practice self care while traveling. So read on!

What Is Self Care & Why Should You...Care?

Self care can have about a thousand different meanings to different people. To me, it means investing time/money/energy into something that YOU want to do that makes YOU feel good. It’s kind of like a business, I suppose. You invest that same time/money/energy into your business with the goal of that business thriving and bringing you everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Without that investment, you’re likely to see the business start to falter.

When is the last time you invested in yourself like that? Now I’m not telling you to go and make yourself a business (even though you totally could if you wanted!). But if you’re struggling with why self care is important, maybe that analogy will help you get there.

Another big snippet of self care that has become super important to me is the idea that you’ve got to take time for your mind, your body, AND your soul. Catherine needs to get some major props for helping me see this. But your whole self is not just one of these things and if you neglect some of the sections, things can get ugly.

Maybe you’ve been there before. Have you ever invested most of your time and energy into hitting the gym or heading out for a run? At first it feels really good so you keep going! But if that’s the ONLY thing you’re doing for yourself, maybe pressure started to build. You miss a day at the gym or have an off day and all of a sudden you feel just crappy. Were you also investing in your mind and soul? I’ve found myself in this exact situation (too many) times before, and I can tell you the answer is more often than not: no.

[tweetthis]Remember to care for all aspects of your self - whether at home or on the road.[/tweetthis]

Stop! Are you feeling this? Take out a sheet of paper and write down all of the ways that you would practice self care. Remember, your definition doesn’t have to totally align with mine. Make the list what you want!

Self Care While Traveling

Now, I’m a part time traveler. Travel is a huge, giant, enormous way that I invest in my soul. And do you know what phrase can get me in trouble and out of whack?

Treat yo’self.

Now, I love this phrase just as much as any other Parks & Rec watching millennial. And if you get to go on a vacation only a few times a year, by all means…treat yo'self like crazy. Please! But since 2016 is the year I’m making travel a more regular part of my life, I’ve found myself tripping over treating myself, perhaps too much. My wallet and my stomach have probably been the two biggest victims of this craze. And it has me feeling super off balance and confused. Especially when I have to re-enter “real life.”

You mean I can’t just eat like that all the time and shirk my responsibilities? Oof.

Enter (mindful) self care on the road.

Now, I’ve talked before about regaining balance once you’ve lost it. But maybe, just maybe, self care is a way to prevent severe imbalance in the first place? But when you’re traveling, sometimes self care is the very last thing on your mind. I’ve been super into investing in myself lately, so I wanted to share some of my favorite ideas for remembering self care on the road. But they are easily translatable to while you’re at home too!

Self Care while Traveling: Mind

Sudoku, crossword, or logic book - How easy is it to rely on watching mindless TV on your flights? Or just hanging out on your computer at the airport? I’m going out on a limb to say I’m not the ONLY one that can fall into this trap…but! What if, instead, you stopped at a newsstand in the airport and picked up a puzzle book? A classic example is a sudoku book, but my absolute favorite are those books filled with logic puzzles. If you plan ahead, grocery stores at home are probably WAY cheaper.

Practice your language skills - This is the quickest way to challenge your mind, especially if you’re traveling in a country that primarily speaks another language. Boost that confidence with a quick Duolingo review and then get out there. Even if you completely butcher it, you’re at least trying and so is your mind! Sound too far out of your comfort zone? I encourage you to just give it a try.

Read - Don’t overlook the value of reading a good book on the road. I don’t care if it’s on your Kindle or a paperback you picked up at the hostel. Reading is actually one of my favorite ways to wind down after a long day of traveling. 20 minutes before I go to bed and I’m sleeping like a baby.

Visit a museum - If you’re not a museum-goer, don’t automatically write off this idea. Do you know how many different types of museums there are in the world? Interactive science museums are my personal favorite! There are tiny quirky museums, big prestigious art museums, and everything in between. Think outside of the box. If you’re looking for self care on a budget, look for one that is pay-what-you-wish.

Have conversations with locals - Bonus if this is in another language! Allowing yourself to have an open mind is a perfect technique for self care. Strike up a conversation with somebody from the city/state/country you’re visiting and talk about anything. You never know what you might learn and take away with you.

Travel journal - This is something that I’ve been practicing lately too. It’s kind of fun to journal about all of the sights, sounds, and experiences you’re encountering on the road (or at home). The act of writing these down gives you time to process everything and hopefully create memories that you can look back on more vividly. If you don’t want to do it quite in a personal feelings style, you can always try story writing!

Photography tour - A simple way to change your perspective: look at things through a lens! Try different angles, lighting, times of day, etc. This will spark your creativity and, you never know, you might get a great shot to walk away with and hang on your wall.

Self Care while Traveling: Body

Go for a moving tour - There are tours of all kinds out there. Cycling tours. Running tours. Walking tours. Just go on a tour and get MOVING! There are lots of free walking tour options popping up around the world, but you can always make your own. I personally love going out for a run around town with my phone, taking pictures of anything and everything I find interesting.

Get outside and chase the sun - Come on, this is the name of my blog. Are you surprised this is on my list? Even if you find a nice green space to sit and soak up some rays, Vitamin D does a lot of good for you. Heck, if it’s freezing cold…bundle up and get out on a sunny day. Go for a hike! Just take this tidbit of self care into account: remember sunscreen!

Choose foods that make you feel good - If I could, I would probably eat cheeseburgers and milkshakes every single day on the road. Or put me in Italy and I’ll stock up on pasta and tiramisu. As delicious as these things might be though, if they make you feel crappy…don’t eat them. Burgers were one of my favorite foods to eat while traveling, but my stomach always felt TERRIBLE afterwards. So as much as I love ‘em, I am probably not going to eat them unless it’s a REAL treat. Choose foods that make you feel good…yes, there are plates out there that are good for you AND delicious. Heck, visit a market and grab some local ingredients to make your own dinner!

Get a massage or visit a spa - The ultimate form of self care for me…splurging for a massage. Check Yelp reviews or ask locals for recommendations, but it’s really astounding how much a massage or a manicure can do for your mood. If you’re feeling tuckered out while traveling, pamper yourself a little bit.

Visit a new gym - If tours aren’t really your thing, you can still make sure you’re moving! Try a local fitness class. There are tons and tons of studios offering all types of workouts - strength, yoga, spin, cheer, yadayadayada. One of my favorite ways to check out new studios while on the road is Classpass. Mind you, I’m not currently a member (hello, grad school budget…again), but I do think it’s a really awesome tool for investing in your body while on the road and at home.

Trade the caffeine and alcohol for water - I know it’s tough to NOT get my dirty chai and try a thousand coffee shops while I’m on the road. But truth be told, that caffeine does tend to dehydrate me. Or make me feel like my heart is going to explode. And I can imagine alcohol might be the same. I’m all for a glass of wine at dinner, but most of the time while traveling I stick to water. If that’s not your jam, just try it for a day! See how you feel. You might be surprised.

Go dancing - My favorite nighttime activity! Don’t underestimate how good dancing is for your body. I really love seeing what dance scenes are like in other areas of the world. This is really great for music lovers too. And this doesn’t have to be just a dance club thing. Think country two-stepping, salsa, or Argentinean tango. Dance is everywhere. Give it a try. And then tell me all about it so I can put it on my list.

Self Care while Traveling: Soul

Create something - There’s nothing better than creating something to care for your soul. Don’t overthink, just do. Head to an arts store and buy some cheap materials if you have to. Grab a sketch book. Take a cooking class!

Sleep in - Sleep is so, so good for the soul. Especially if you’ve got some jet lag interfering with your happiness. Take the time to sleep and rejuvenate yourself. Also: travelers often take the mindset of “the early bird gets the worm.” I love hitting the road early, but if you take a day to sleep in…the world will not stop turning. Go ahead and take it if you need it. For those travelers who are hostel dorm dwellers, this might mean a) splurging on a private room for a night or two or b) investing in some really, really good earplugs and eye masks.

Only do things that you want to do - The most famous attraction in the city you’re visiting is an art museum…and you HATE looking at art…but you still go anyway because Lonely Planet (and everybody else) says to. Is that taking care of yourself? I don’t think so. Getting outside of your comfort zone is one thing, but feeling forced to spend money on an activity you have less than 0 interest in is a whole ‘nother thing. It’s OKAY to skip things you don’t want to do. Allow yourself that luxury.

Connect with people back home - Sometimes travel can make us feel nostalgic and lonely all at once. Thank goodness for Skype for times like this. If you’re having a rough day, or just want to share a story with somebody back home…go ahead and take that time to reach out to them! It’ll make both of you happy, I’m sure.

Sit by the water - Whenever I am so all over the place, there’s nothing quite like sitting by a body of water to make my soul feel alive again. I would clearly choose the beach anytime, here. But think rivers, lakes, hot springs, heck…pools, any H2O that revives your soul. This is also a good time to mix one of the other self care activities in. Try journaling by the river in the city you’re in. You never know what you might write.

Get off of social media - I will be the first to tell you that social media is a great tool while traveling (wait…I already have), but sometimes you just need to get the heck off of it. This can be really hard, especially if you’re a blogger, I know. But it is too easy to get wrapped up in social media and forget about what an amazing time YOU’RE having. I love snapchat more than the average teenager…but not everything has to be snapped, you know? Take a little social media detox and think only about yourself for the day. See what happens.

Take a slow travel day - When all else fails, slow down. If you’re a part time traveler (or even if you’re just super ambitious) and find yourself cramming things into every second of every day, you might need a day like this. Stop. Sleep in. Go on a walk to nowhere in particular. Spend three hours in a coffee shop. Go home and take a bath. Slooooow it down. This can be hard if you’re not used to slow travel, and you might feel like you’re missing out on EVERYTHING (hint: you’re not) the first couple of times you try it. But it is so, so good for you.

Just remember that every once in a while, a form of self care while traveling can absolutely be to treat yourself and indulge in whatever - food, an expensive activity, etc. But there are other small, mindful, and sustainable ways that you can mix in self care while you travel…without blowing your money OR your calorie budget.

And in the end: getting out of your comfort zone is one of my favorite ways to invest in myself. And that’s travel in and of itself. So you’re already on the path to self care!

If you know somebody who is easily stressed during travel and forgets to think about themselves…send this along to them! I’d love to know if they find it helpful.

Let’s Chat!

  • Have you heard about self care? What are some of your favorite ways to indulge in some self care while traveling - or at home? Share in the comments!