In part one I wrote about what you can bring on a trip to contribute to a blissful time away. Now, once you’re traveling, how can you affect your travel experiences in a positive way? Since there’s greater chance your trip turns out well if you’re feeling good about yourself, I believe self-care and self-love comes first.
Whether you’re carnivore, omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist or choose not to label yourself you can give your body sufficient water and nourishment every day. A guideline for me is no limit with fruit, berries and vegetables and to practice moderation with unhealthy food and anything sweet. Because a sugar-induced food coma will do no good for your body or mind.
While food is the foundation, staying active is also important. Whether you choose walks in the area, jogging along the beach, yoga in the park, push-ups and crunches in your room, cycling, adventurous excursions, local activities (like Tai Chi in Beijing), or to dance the night away at a club doesn’t matter as long as you’re having fun. Exercise doesn’t need to be a chore.
Not least, sleep. Regardless of if you’re a night owl or rise with the sun. Although enough sleep isn’t a necessity for great travel experiences, your body will thank you for giving it the hours it needs, whether that is six or eight. For me, lack of sleep while traveling have caused missed flight connections, getting lost and a far less alert mind. The times when I felt rested and ready to face the day my travels were much more likely to include moments of bliss.
While nourishing food, regular activity and adequate sleep are all basic, the ways of self-care can go far beyond that. What works best for you?
Self-Love & Love
To some, self-love comes naturally. For others, it can take time and effort as one learns to end destructive habits, make wiser choices or simply be one’s own best friend. Regardless of how easy or difficult continuous self-love comes to you, I believe it’s a lot about living a self-approved life; knowing your values and living accordingly with truth and conviction. And as you are kind and loving to yourself, you can feel more compassion for others.
In a way, life’s too valuable to engage in confrontations. Practice being kind over being right. Once you stop being critical, judgmental or hard on yourself, the easier it will be to give others a break and walk away from negative situations instead of getting into conflicts or even fights. What good does it make to argue with a taxi driver who tried to rip you off, complain to anyone who will listen about your latest misfortune on the road, yell at airline staff because of delayed flights, or behave childish if something your friend did upset you instead of facing the issue and solving it in a mature way.
If you believe in Karma, the universal law of cause and effect, it’s also wise not to take things personally and engage in negativity, whatever form it takes, since all actions have consequences, whether instant, gradual or delayed.
I began practicing mindfulness last summer and have experienced countless ups and downs since. Seconds, minutes or hours when I felt immersed in whatever I was doing and times when my mind wouldn’t shut up and kept thinking non-stop.
Mindfulness means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can. In the process, we become more in touch with our life as it is unfolding. – Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Even though mindfulness in the sense of letting go of all thoughts of the past or future may sound simple, the act of living 100% in the now can prove challenging. After all, for the majority of us, the mind has a tendency to wander.
Fortunately travel offers opportunity after opportunity to practice being present in the moment without worries, doubts, judgments, past regrets or future planning. And to treat every moment with equal importance.
Read also: What is Mindfulness-Based Treatment
As you learn to stay present more often and for a longer time, your ability to find joy in little things and the overall experience of traveling will increase. You may also find yourself appreciating sights, scents, tastes and sounds more.
When you need to make new travel plans, it’s only a question of having all your attention on planning while you stay in the now.
In a blog post titled Packed!!, which I stumbled upon last year, Girly Jóna writes:
By now, I am very much aware of the fact that packing is a privilege. It is not a thing to be hated. Ever. Packing means you get to go somewhere. It means opportunities and hope, as well as an almost mandatory episode of personal growth.
Just the fact that you have packed a bag and left home to travel means you have more options than the majority of the people on our planet. What’s not to be grateful for?
While gratitude is easy to feel as you sit on the plane or reach a new destination after days of awesome experiences, the feeling might not be as easy to sustain for every passing minute for the rest of your trip. Especially not when things don’t go as expected, you no longer feel those butterflies in the stomach, your credit card gets stolen, you get sick, or you face any other unwanted obstacle.
However, reminding yourself that at least you are traveling and why you are traveling in the first place can be enough to bring gratitude back. You are already living that dream.
If you welcome the unexpected, see everything as chances for growth and trust you can shift any situation into a lesson and opportunity, it’s easier to appreciate where you are and what you have, without ever taking travel for granted.
During a ski holiday in Are, my sister, mom and I waited by the ski lift for one last run before the lifts closed. Without knowing why I felt an intense reluctance to ride the lift another time. They convinced me to join them and as a seven-year-old I hadn’t learned to trust my intuition. Half-way down the ski piste I felt a crash and strong pain in my back. I tumbled down the slope and couldn’t make myself stop. As I lied motionless on the cold snow, I heard mom yell at the twenty-something guy who had skied right into me. I ended up with a broken collar bone and had to use a neck restraint for eight weeks.
When you trust your gut feeling if something feels off or wrong and learn to follow your intuition, you’re more likely to stay out of trouble and find more bliss.
Be Comfortable With Uncomfortable
If you only want comfort, stay at home. Travel is all about leaving your comfort-zone. Just getting on a plane, testing a seemingly scary activity or even saying “table for one, please” can feel like a nerve-wracking experience for many.
In Tidbit: Let’s Get Uncomfy Together, Farryn Weiner writes:
I am speaking of the experience. The experience of picking yourself up, throwing yourself out there, putting your body and mind and soul into a new, often uncomfortable situation, and going with it.
Before I went water skiing on a lake in Michigan I feared I’d somehow hurt my legs, when I tried to catch my first wave on a surfboard I didn’t feel confident, and during a motorcycle lesson I was scared I’d skid in a curve and get injured. In other words, I felt uncomfortable. But I went with it anyway and realized fear won’t hurt you unless you let it control you.
While bliss and comfort do go together (hello luxury hotels), so does bliss and coming out on the other side of a situation that made you uncomfortable.
Take Pleasure in the Journey
Sure, we all want to take a picture in the Whitsundays or on top of a massive New Zealand mountain, but the true beauty and secrets of travel are revealed in the most unexpected of ways.
Have a destination in mind. But be open to the people you encounter, the hurdles you face, the method of transportation you use, and the unspoiled beaches or off-the-beaten-path communities you come across along the route.
With all new stimulus and challenges that come with traveling you need ways to recharge from time to time. What are your sources of energy when you travel?
An introvert may need to spend time alone reading a good book, watching a movie or setting aside other me-time while an extrovert can get more energy from outside stimulation at a party or through chatting with friends.
For full-time travelers and digital nomads, the recharge in a broader sense can come from staying put somewhere for weeks or months instead of rushing from place to place. Whatever you prefer, regularly taking time to recharge equals more bliss.
It’s always a good idea to plan for the worst-case scenario. Hopefully, knowing you’re prepared in case of trouble will set your mind at ease. But try not to overthink things and make your preparations more stressful.