Traveling solo builds confidence, self-love, and allows for self-discovery, but the change in routine and being far from home has its downsides. It can wreck havoc on our health, especially our mental and emotional health, but it doesn’t have to ruin our experience. Here are some travel habits to pick up in order to stay balanced.
REST YOUR MIND — SLEEP AND MEDITATION
Missing sleep can be one of the key causes of some of our least favorite mental health symptoms. Sleep acts as the body’s ‘reset button,’ and it necessary for most of us to get the bare minimum number of hours a night if we want to entertain any hope of functioning at full capacity the next day. Snoring hostel mates and fluctuating time zones tend to be the most frustrating causes of sleepless nights. An eye mask and ear plugs go a long way in getting and staying asleep almost anywhere.
If getting to sleep is the issue, maybe an overactive mind is keeping you up. Meditation is best practiced daily, but it it’s also a useful tool whenever you are overstimulated or in a situation where you need to calm your thoughts. When you find yourself on that crowded bus, turn all of your inward and outward focus on your breath until you find yourself calming.
BE GRATEFUL FOR THE MOMENT
Some people say that depression stems from living in the past, and anxiety from living in the future — so if you’re perfectly settled in the present, there is no worry. If you’re 100% focused on the present moment and doing your absolute best in any situation, then the future takes care of itself.
Whatever your circumstances, take a moment, take a breath, and look around you. You are traveling! Your travel dreams have come to fruition and even though it’s hard sometimes, you are doing. So watch every color cross the sky of that sunset, people watch from a cafe, or pull your camera out and snap away. It’s going to be ok, so let it all go except for what is right in front of you.
Challenge Your Limits
I know you are already stressed, so why would you go and do something that scares you? Because it will pull you right out of your funk and into the present moment! Plus, an endorphin rush will surely perk up your mood.
So try something thrilling if you’re up for up for it. Surfing, hiking, zip-lining, rappelling, scuba diving, check out what is available nearby. It can make a huge difference for your happiness level and remind you why you left home to travel in the first place.
Go with the flow when things go wrong
The truth of travel is, no matter how much you prepare, you always run the risk of losing control of things. That’s why travel insurance exists, because you can’t possibly predict all the ways that your plans will eventually go sideways. It’s when things go wrong and you handle them, you will discover how capable and strong you really are. In fact, when things don’t go according to plan, that’s when we are more open for help from kind locals and can call upon our community for support. You will find your way, just go with the flow and lose attachments to your plans.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS
We travel solo for a reason, but that doesn’t mean we always want to be alone. Making friends on the road is one the most rewarding parts of travel. When you are feeling low, it may feel natural to retreat to solitude, but I encourage you to sit outside at a cafe. Lounge around in the hostel lobby, or join a walking tour or meetup. Other travelers are the most friendly, inspiring people to be around. Sharing a deep belly laugh with a person who is unlike yourself serves to remind us how we’re all human and we all have a deep, inherent, implicit value — and, because of that, the world immediately becomes a better place.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DOWN DAYS — EMBRACE BEING ALONE
Just like there are high, happy moments of traveling solo, there are also some low days. We may have traveled many miles from home, we can’t leave our problems behind. Instead of escaping them, sit with the feeling until it passes. Wander around, read in a park, write in a journal, or even totally zone out with a day of Netflix. It’s ok. Self-care is especially important, so eat healthy, regular meals, drink plenty of water, and fill your head with plenty of kind words.
about the author
Rachel ‘Rosie’ Young
Rosie is a writer and yoga teacher who explores the globe as a digital nomad. She encourages her readers and students to blast through personal limitations and live life to their fullest. Find more of Rosie’s work here.