Travel should be invigorating, not exhausting. Here are five healthy habits I maintain while traveling to give my mind and body the TLC they deserve.
As much as I love traveling, I don’t think you should check all your healthy habits at the gate before boarding the plane. Yes, you’re on vacation and it’s good to let go of your everyday routines and have new experiences. But throwing all your good habits out the window and forgetting to properly care for your mind and body is a guaranteed way to feel off kilter when you finally return home. When traveling, there are a few healthy habits I implement that both make my trip more enjoyable and make it easier to return to normal life after the trip is over.
Really though, this post should be titled “5 Healthy Habits I Attempt to Maintain While Traveling,” because sometimes life happens and I wind up staying out late every night of a trip, or I order something deep fried and delicious every day for lunch. I don’t want this post to come off as being preachy — this isn’t about how “healthy” I am, this is about the ways I try to take care of myself mentally and physically while traveling and why you should also care about giving your body the TLC it deserves. Because ultimately the only way I’ll be able to continue traveling is if I take care of myself. Personally, I don’t like returning home from a trip feeling more exhausted than when I left; I want to come home feeling reinvigorated and excited to jump back into my everyday life. I think travel should be restorative, and having a killer itinerary is only part of the broader picture.
Here are the things I do on a trip to give my body and mind the attention they deserve. Maintaining these five basic habits prevent me from feeling rundown after a day of exploring and are make me eager to plan my next trip.
Sticking to a schedule
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I thrive on routine. When I’m traveling, I don’t expect to have a regimented schedule (where’s the fun in vacationing that way?), but I do need to go to bed at roughly the same time every night and eat breakfast around the same time the next morning. If I’m able to keep these two key parts of my day in line, then I find I just feel so much better both physically and mentally. (This is total TMI, but if you’re someone who gets constipated while traveling, it may be because your eating and sleeping schedule has gone out the window. Try adding some structure to your mornings and nights and see if that helps!).
If I know my flight will be arriving at an odd time of night, I try to work out ahead of time when I should wake up the next morning so I can more easily adjust my body to the local time zone. I also like to look up local grocery stores or cafes before my trip so that I know where the best places to get a hearty breakfast are. If I put off finding a place to eat until the morning I need that information, I often wind up settling for a less than filling muffin from whatever coffee shop I stumble across first, which gives me a sugar crash later on and I feel sluggish until lunchtime. Maintaining some semblance of routine while traveling can take a little planning beforehand, but it’s always worth it!
Read more: My Travel Nighttime Routine
Getting enough sleep
My friends joke that I’m 25 going on 70 because I always get at least eight hours of sleep each night. It doesn’t matter if I’m traveling through sunny Greece or I’m working from home all week, getting enough sleep is so important. If I don’t get enough sleep while I’m traveling, I get really cranky and it takes away from my trip. Sites that would otherwise thrill me suddenly irritate me because there are “too many” tourists milling about, or the line into a museum is annoyingly long, and so on. When I’m tired, I’m more likely to remember all the things I didn’t like about a place, and all I can think about is my next meal (because eating is a good excuse to sit down, you feel me?).
With that said, I don’t get my full beauty rest every single night while traveling. Sometimes that’s because I’m on a plane and I simply can’t sleep, or it’s because I have tickets to a musical that ends late. I prefer to schedule in those late nights so I can plan the following day accordingly. If I know I won’t be getting back to my room until midnight, I’ll set my alarm for later and won’t plan any early morning activities. Pushing myself to get up and go after staying out late does me no favors (I actually find that I get sick more often after a trip if I haven’t gotten enough sleep).
If you’re a night owl, by all means go out and enjoy the nightlife while traveling. But don’t force yourself to wake up early every morning of your trip to tick things off your bucket list. Give your body the rest it deserves, otherwise you’ll return home feeling like you need a few days to recover from your vacation!
When I’m working from home, I have to go for a long walk in the afternoons to clear my head and loosen up my body, and when I’m traveling it’s no different. I’m naturally more active on vacation because I walk most places, but I also like to do bodyweight workouts in my room before heading out for the day. Nothing intense, mind you, just a 15- to 20-minute routine to work out the kinks first thing in the morning and get my blood flowing. The main reason I try to stay active while traveling is to make transitioning back to my normal life easier. If I’ve been traveling for two weeks and haven’t done much physical activity, I feel more lethargic once I’m back home. Staying active on vacation isn’t about my weight or physical appearance, it’s more of a mental thing for me; I feel more relaxed and less anxious after I’ve burned some of that pent up energy.
If your trips are more relaxation-centered, you can still move your body without it taking away from your trip. Walk the boardwalk, go for a swim in the ocean, do a chill yoga routine before heading out for the day — just try to move a little each day to get your blood flowing.
I’ve never tracked my calories and never will, nor do I stress about eating perfectly while traveling. My favorite part about traveling is trying local foods and dining at popular restaurants, and trying to stick to a specific diet would ruin the experience for me. I do try to eat intuitively though, and for me that means having a decently well rounded diet while I’m abroad. I usually start my morning with a bowl of instant oatmeal (which I pick up from the nearest grocery store the day I arrive), and then I enjoy whatever food I want after that. If I have a burger for lunch, I try to order something more veg-heavy for dinner.
Again, eating good-for-me foods isn’t about my weight, it’s about how I feel. My stomach hurts if I eat too much cheese or greasy foods, not to mention it makes me really sleepy. I actually find it difficult to order well-rounded meals at most restaurants, so I try to look up a few places to eat ahead of time with choices that will fill me up and fuel me for the next day’s adventures. (Oftentimes, restaurants serve their entrees with mashed potatoes or veggies sautéed in lots of butter. I like to find places with fresher options that aren’t just salads).
Journaling my thoughts
I approach the other healthy travel habits on this list with a flexible mindset and don’t beat myself up if I have a more sluggish day or enjoy a burger for lunch and pizza for dinner. But I journal every night of a trip, no matter what. Journaling is a key part of my nighttime routine, and it’s important for two reasons: 1) it helps me remember my trip in more detail, and 2) it soothes my buzzing brain and helps me switch off for the night. When I sit down to journal, I usually don’t think I’m that tired, but after 10 minutes of writing I’m afraid my head will fall off I’m so tired. I’m able to fall asleep more easily after I’ve journaled, and it’s so nice to go to bed knowing I’ve dumped all my thoughts for the day into my travel journal.
If you’ve never journaled your travels before, I highly recommend it. Your journal can be whatever you make it, and you don’t have to write long entries if you don’t want to. Bulleted lists of the things you saw and ate that day would be just as soothing as a few sentences highlighting the coolest things you did. And if writing in your journal every night seems like too much of a commitment, that’s fine too. Just because that’s what I like to do doesn’t mean you have to as well!
Tell me: What’s one way you take care of your mind and body while traveling?
More posts you’ll love:
- How to Deal with Homesickness While Traveling
- 10 Easy Ways I Save Money While Traveling
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- How I Practice Self-Care While Traveling (& Why You Should Too!)
- My Top Tips for Dealing with Airplane Turbulence
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