How to Self Care on the Road: Wellbeing & Health Tips for Backpackers
Travelling the world is one of the best experiences of your life. Learning about new cultures. Seeing new places. Making new memories. Meeting new people. All of these things contribute to our best life moments. While wanderlust is an incredible thing to have, it doesn’t come without its hardships. Just remember, the life of a backpacker isn't always what you see on Instagram. Travel is full of ups and downs (mostly ups) but the downs are often less talked about. Loneliness can kick in. Social anxieties. Lack of money. Tiredness. Homesickness. Dealing with mental health. And that’s just to name a few. One thing we often take for granted is our mental health and well-being on the road. Taking care of yourself should be your priority when travelling because the healthier and happier you feel, naturally, the better your trip will be.
Here are our top tips on how to self care on the road...
1 Schedule in some ‘Me’ Time
You’re likely to be around people a lot when you’re travelling whether you’re with a group of friends, a partner or a tour group. Whatever the situation, you’re going to be around different personalities for the majority of your travels. That’s why it’s important to make sure you schedule in some down time. Just you. Nobody else. This will really help you to refuel and give yourself a break from socialising. Some alone time can also help to think, reflect and be a better (more energised) social butterfly once you return to the group. It’s all about finding a balance between social time and private time.
Reading your book, going on a solo walk, writing a travel journal, doing some yoga, having a nap
2 Meditation and Yoga
Did you know that one in four 16-24 year olds practice meditation or yoga at least once a week? There’s a good reason for it too. If you ever find yourself feeling homesick, irritable or anxious during your travels, meditation or yoga can really help to clear your head. Meditation is a good time for self reflection and to enjoy the silence - whereas yoga can really help to relax you and your body whilst simultaneously making you feel stronger mentally and physically.
Find a beach or a quiet spot in the hostel and follow some of Cat Meffan’s Youtube Yoga videos. She makes yoga videos for beginners all the way up to more advanced yogis.
3 Eat right
Healthy body, healthy mind. While you’re travelling around the world, eating local food and indulging at local restaurants plays a big part in the overall travel experience. Just remember to find a balance between healthy and naughty. We love our burgers, but we also enjoy a fruit-packed smoothie and veggies. Don’t throw your balanced diet out of the window just because you’re travelling.
According to a recent Youth Trends report, young people between the ages of 16 - 24 are typically very health conscious.
4 Adopt a positive mindset for when things don’t go to plan
Sometimes all it takes to make a bad situation better is a positive mindset. Things don’t always go plan and expectations aren’t always met, but just replace a negative thought with a positive one and make the best of a situation.
Tip: Read ‘The Secret’ or ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ during your travels for some more positive mindset advice. These books will change your life!
5 Limit your screen time
We all know that social media can have a negative affect on mental health, so when you’re travelling, try and keep this to a minimum. Growing up in the digital age makes it all too tempting to post everything you do on your travels on social media. Try and embrace where you are without having to do an Instagram story or getting a good photo for the Gram. It can also be so easy to get sucked in and waste time going through your feed seeing what everyone else is doing or comparing your life to others. Don’t get caught up on your phone - get caught up in the moment.
Take a break from your social media accounts (disable for a day). Put your phone on do not disturb mode. Turn your phone off completely unless you need it.
Drink plenty of water when you’re travelling to stay hydrated on the road. Dehydration can lead to headaches, bad skin and tiredness which are not ideal when you’re out on the road wanting to make the most of every opportunity. Sometimes it’s the easiest things that make all the difference; like refilling your water bottle every few hours.
7 Treat yourself
Being on a tight travel budget can be tough - but sometimes you need to treat yourself to put a smile on your face. Whether it’s booking a private room in a hostel instead of a dorm room for that extra luxury of having your own space. Or treating yourself to a delicious dinner that’s a little more expensive, it’s important to enjoy those moments of indulgence.
You’re going to remember the meals you eat and the experiences you have, but you’re not going to remember the money you tried to save.
8 Don’t burn yourself out
It’s totally normal to want to jam pack your day with activities, sights and fun things to do but don’t burn yourself out. Make the most of your time in a new city but don’t overfill your itinerary with lots of tiring things - try and keep it more relaxed and spread things out. Do what you can handle and don’t over exhaust yourself.
Find a nice balance between chill time, partying, sleep and activities. Enjoying long lunches to rest your feet is a great way to relax.
9 Be organised
Organisation is key to stress-free travel. Buy yourself a document organiser, use the calendar on your phone to note down your itinerary and leave room in your days to take a breather and catch up with yourself. Things like looking in advance at how to get from the airport to the hostel is something simple to do but easy to forget. There’s no worse feeling than being disorganised while you’re in a city you don’t know, especially if you know you’re sometimes an anxious traveller. Take time to sit down and go through your days to ensure you feel confident with what you’re doing, know where you’re going and will have the best time you can have. But of course, don’t overplan your trip and be spontaneous too.
10 See a doctor if you think something isn’t right
We all get anxious paying a trip to a doctor - even more so if you’re in a foreign country. It may seem like a chore if you fall ill while travelling, but seeing a doctor and making sure everything is alright always trumps whatever you had planned. If the doctor can help get you back on track sooner, give you peace of mind or give you health advice you needed to hear, the only regret you’d ever have would be NOT to visit the local doctor.
11 Pamper yourself
Self care can also come in the form of pampering. Just because you’re backpacking, doesn’t mean you can’t find time to paint your nails, do a face mask or give yourself a clean shave. Small things like this sometimes make you feel much better about yourself. Treat yourself to a haircut at a salon, get a Thai massage in Bangkok or get yourself a mani pedi! If you’re in need of some TLC, go ahead and pamper yourself a little.
12 Early nights
Night outs are great. But the hangover isn’t. Make time for early nights on your travels so that you’re not sleeping late every day of the week. An early night will help you feel more fresh, better recovered and a lot more energised.
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Article by Shereen Sagoo & Darcy King
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