How to stay happy and well on your travels
Pack for success
Overpacking is a sure-fire way to make your travels harder than they need to be. Instead of lugging around heavy bags, pack smarter with multi-functional items that don’t take up a lot of room. Instead of bottles of shampoo and conditioner, take a cleansing bar that doubles as soap. Instead of a beach towel, take an absorbent mini-travel towel and sarong. They both dry quickly and the sarong can be used as a towel at the beach, a cover-up at religious sites, or a sheet on hot nights. Getting the idea?
Plan to be flexible
It’s fun making travel plans, but get ready for them to change. Not everything will be how you imagined it and you’re bound to stumble upon unexpected things you want to see and do along the way. Build in plenty of time to be spontaneous and go in with the mindset that sometimes you’ll need to roll with the punches. If your plans do go awry, take a deep breath, focus on the positives and remind yourself that one day it will make a good story.
Connect with nature
Just as time in the great outdoors replenishes us back home, the same is true when we’re on the road. Take the time to unwind on an unhurried bushwalk, spend the day at the beach, or pack a picnic and head for a city’s parks or gardens. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
Stay out of danger
Nothing can turn a trip upside down faster than a traumatic event. Taking a few sensible precautions can minimise the chances of something happening to you or your belongings – learn where not to go in a town or city, avoid walking anywhere on your own late at night, leave valuables at home or hide them from plain sight, and go easy when it comes to alcohol. Just in case where the danger comes to you, make sure you come prepared with suitable travel insurance.
This one is simple. If your body is used to the good stuff, keep feeding it the good stuff on your travels. The food we eat has a huge impact on our mood and energy levels, and even how well we sleep; if you’re chowing down on burritos and burgers every day, you’ll definitely start to feel it (and not in a good way). If your diet could use some improvement, a trip away is a good time to hit the reset button. Need some extra incentive? Imagine how it will feel arriving back home in better shape than when you left.
Bali belly, Montezuma’s revenge, Delhi belly or the Rangoon runs – no matter what you call it, a bout of gastro is no fun for anyone. Drinking bottled water is one way to minimise the chances you’ll get it, but in countries where the tap water is known to really pose a problem, be sure to brush your teeth using bottled water too (and don’t open your mouth in the shower!). Avoid ice in drinks, choose fruits you can peel, and avoid buying food from dodgy-looking restaurants or street stalls – let common sense be your guide and be sure you’ve included travel diarrhoea tablets in your first-aid kit just in case. You packed a first-aid kit, right?
Keep up your feel-good habits
If you’ve found an activity that benefits your wellbeing at home, make it a priority to incorporate it into your travels. Whether that be running, yoga, meditation or swimming, find ways to continue doing the things you love wherever you happen to be – what makes you happy at home will likely have the same effect on the road.
There’s a reason the slow travel movement is gaining traction – taking the time to immerse yourself in a destination tends to result in a more authentic and memorable experience. Consider staying in one place for longer rather than cramming in as much as you can in the time you have available. Get to know the locals, take your time exploring, get around by public transport. It’s the chance encounters you’re sure to have on your unhurried travels that you’ll talk about most when you get home.
Check in with yourself
The travel blues can sneak up on you so be sure to pay attention to the signs that you’re feeling a little off. If you’re travelling with others, do you need a little me-time to get back on track? Why not plan a solo outing or stay behind to unwind while your travel buddies head out? If you’re travelling on your own and loneliness is starting to get you down, book a tour, stay somewhere you can easily meet fellow travellers, or call a loved one back home – a little connection or companionship might be all you need to feel like yourself again.
Get enough sleep
We all get a bit grumpy if we haven’t had enough sleep, and getting along with the people we're travelling with suddenly becomes much harder. If you’re feeling sleep deprived or you’ve had a succession of late nights or early mornings, make it a priority to catch up on your zees.
Live in the moment
It’s a fact: mindfulness is the key to a happier and healthier life. Travel is an opportunity to appreciate the present, so get into the habit of taking a moment each day to focus on the sights, sounds and smells around you. Keeping a journal, doing a daily sketch or taking a photo at the same time each day are all tools to prompt you to focus on the present moment. Chances are, there’s no place you’d rather be.
Words: Joanna Tovia
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