How to care for yourself before, during and after traveling

For many of us, traveling is exciting and fun, and I’ll argue, even necessary. However, traveling can also be stressful. Even going away for a week can wreak havoc on our bodies, mind, and routines. Jetlag, new environments, different food, and even the water can take us for a spin. I know you’re excited about your upcoming trip and looking to have the time of your life. This is your act of self-care. Well here’s the thing, self-care starts before you take that trip, during your trip and last even after your trip. Here are a few tips to help decrease the disruption that travel can cause and help you care for yourself before, during and after traveling. 

Before Travel 

Self-care starts before you travel. My pre-travel self-care routine begins when I am booking my flights. If I am traveling somewhere with a significant time difference, I like to book flights that land in the afternoon or later. I find that this helps me overcome jet lag easier. Not only do I try to get a few zzzzzs (which is not always possible) on the plane, but once I land I can head straight to my hotel or other accommodations that don’t allow check-in before a particular time. From there I have options. I can nap, shower and enjoy dinner at my new destination, or I can shower and sleep until morning to start my day refreshed.

I am not the kind of person that can land in a new destination and start running and sightseeing. I admire people who can, but it just doesn’t work for me. For example, when I went to Thailand, a calculated 25+ hours of traveling, I was delirious by the time I landed in Bangkok. No way I was going to be strutting around. There is also a 12-hour time difference between Florida, so jet lag galore. I opted to land in the evening, checked into my hotel, ordered room service and then went to bed. In the morning, I felt rested and was ready to explore, even though jet lag was still looming around. Even a 1-hour time difference can throw your body’s circadian rhythm out of whack, so it is best to plan accordingly. 

In addition to my flight schedule, I also make sure that my home is clean and organized, and my clothes have been laundered. My car is detailed, and the gas tank is on full. I do this because when I come back from my trip, I want to step into a clean and welcoming space and if I have to run errands the next day or go to work, I don’t have to worry about filling my gas tank. A friend of mine usually takes a day off before heading back to work to recoup. This is another option if you have enough time off from work to do so. 

I also ensure that all my bills are paid or automated so that I don’t have to worry about missing any payments while I am away trying to relax. I stock up on my favorite nonperishable healthy snacks, water, and wine so when I get home, I have sweet treats waiting for me. If I am hungry when I arrive, I usually have something delivered instead of cooking or going out to eat. I also pick up my favorite bath bombs and candles and write a welcome home note to myself. The note can say whatever you want; it can be humorous, sappy, inspirational, or anything else. It is just a nice touch to come to after your vacation. 

During Travel 

When we travel, transforming into the energizer bunny is effortless. Because time may be limited, you may want to visit and see as many things as possible. In the midst of that, it is a great idea to slow down and pace yourself mentally. Remember that travel offers you an opportunity not only to see new places but also participate in self-care activities that you may not usually do daily due to hectic life schedules, work responsibilities, family obligations, managing a social life, and so forth. 

Take the time to care for yourself while you are traveling by meditating, doing yoga, and journaling. These simple acts do not have to take up your entire time. Carve out an hour each day to do these things, and you’ll see the difference. You don’t want to be one of those people who come back from their vacation and say, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” That can only mean that your vacation was not restful. Try to take it easy. In addition, if you like to write postcards to friends and family, be sure to write and mail yourself one as well. Write about how you’re feeling at the moment, what you love about yourself, how you’re growing, or any other positive message that you wish to read later. 

After Travel 

Once your trip is over and you’ve boarded that plane and said your goodbyes to your new friends and surrounding, you’ll arrive at a familiar place call home. It will be clean, your car will sparkle with excitement (and a full tank of gas), bills paid, with a welcome note and your favorite snacks and wine. You’ll shower to remove that gross airplane feeling off of your body, light your scented candles and then relax in your bathtub with soothing meditation music. A couple weeks later your postcard will arrive in the mail, and you’ll get to reminisce about the amazing place you went, the dope people you met, the cool things you did, and the delicious foods you ate. 

Rinse and repeat. 

That is what I call travel self-care. Do you have any self-care travel routines? Share them with me below or steal some of the ones discussed.  

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