June 2016

Why I have a travel Routine and How it Helps me enjoy travel more

Travel is lovely for the break from regular routine - but when you travel for a long time it’s important to think about introducing some structure to your day. It will help you to feel grounded and more peaceful. It really helps me to enjoy travel so much more.

When I say “routine” I don’t mean having a timetable that you have to follow to the minute - that’s definitely not the point (unless you're really into that). This is more about having touch points in your day, they don’t have to be done at a certain time (though of course you can have morning or evening routines) with the aim of introducing some elements of self care. In general I tend to add things that are already part of my routine at home - I often just adapt them to suit the more relaxing nature of holidays.

What could be included

There are lots of things you can include in a holiday routine; mine tends to focus on self care. Currently when I travel I add the following elements to my travel routine:

Meditation: In the morning I like to meditate for at least 10 minutes, but on mornings where we have a lot going on I'm happy to drop it back to 5 minutes. It’s more about having a few moments of calm in the day - travel can be relaxing but it can also be overwhelming with the unfamiliar languages and/or culture - it’s nice to focus on my breath - even if it's only briefly.

Five Minute Journal: I love my Five Minute Journal; it’s a great and simple way to introduce more gratitude into my life (you can read more about the journal here). Travelling is magical; and taking a moment to be grateful for this time can really enhance the experience. I’ve used the physical one in the past, but I’ve recently moved over to the app, which is a lot easier when you’re travelling.

Exercise: When we’re on holidays overseas I don’t add exercise to my day as we tend to walk everywhere, however when I'm travelling for business or when we go home to visit our parents I go for a 30 minute run most days.

Travel journal: When we travel overseas I spend some time every afternoon writing in my travel journal. I really love noting down the things that have bought me joy and the little stories from the day. I know I will be so grateful to have these records in the future.

Take a bath: This doesn't form part of my normal at home routine but since we tend to travel in winter taking an afternoon bath is the perfect way to relax and warm up. I really look forward to this downtime - especially after a morning of adventures.

Allow for flexibility

Most important is not letting having a routine get in the way of the whole point of your holiday - which is to relax and enjoy yourself. Sometimes I would write in my travel journal in the morning on the train to our next destination instead of in the afternoon or have a sleep in instead of meditating. These routine elements are meant to be touch points to help keep you grounded on days that are often very unstructured - they aren't meant to make your day feel more restricted.

So if adding a certain routine element stresses you out - just don't do it. It's that simple.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo

How to confidently travel solo

In the last year or so I’ve done a lot of travel by myself - mostly because of work. Now as a card carrying introvert the idea of being alone doesn’t really bother me - in fact I find it very peaceful. However I was still initially nervous about being in public by myself and doing things that are traditionally group activities like going out to dinner or sightseeing. I feel like this is what most people are nervous about - that you’ll look weird, or you’ll feel lonely.

Once I started travelling I realised that I really enjoyed being by myself and travelling alone. I also worked out how to get past my nerves. I thought I would share my tips for being confident and having fun when you travel solo.

Choose your schedule

When you travel alone you are the only person who has a say on your schedule and it is so important to take advantage of this. I love when I travel solo because it means I can decide on a whim to go for a walk on the waterfront, have a post work day cocktail or relax in the bath.

Although it is a lot of fun to travel with your lover or friends there is something so liberating about not needing to discuss your plans with anyone. It also means you can follow your passions without worrying about whether it’s boring or frustrating anyone.

For example I really enjoy going on walks with my camera - I always feel a bit guilty taking so much time to take photographs and play around with composition when I’m travelling with others - so I like that I can spend 10 minutes setting up and taking photographs without delaying anyone except myself.

Be Confident

I know it’s very nerve wracking to go to dinner all by yourself. Every time I do it I wonder if anyone is staring at me or calling me a loser in their head. I try to take an attitude that people:

a) don’t think I’m weird for dining alone and;

b) may even think I’m kind of cool for being brave enough to be sitting alone in a restaurant.

So when I walk into a restaurant or bar I pretend that everyone is so amazed by how self possessed I am. It sounds kind of weird but it really works - pretending to feel unbothered by the opinions of others tricks my brain into actually feeling like that - which is a lot more fun than awkwardly slinking into a restaurant and sitting in the back where no one can see me, rushing through my meal so I can retreat to my hotel room.

If you’re wondering what to do whilst you eat or drink you can:

  1. Read a book

  2. People watch: I love to sit at the bar so I can watch what the wait staff are doing as well as the customers (plus sitting at the bar in a restaurant makes me feel very cool)

  3. Listen to podcasts: this is my personal favourite because you don’t need to need to try and balance eating and holding a book plus you can still people watch.

Entertain Yourself

When you travel alone you have a rare opportunity to focus. I find when I’m travelling solo I get so much done - in particular on the plane - because I just have so much time on my hands. The downside of course is that with all this peaceful time on your hands if you don’t bring things to sufficiently entertain yourself you will get bored very very quickly.

So I like to take a few different options for entertainment - I’ve already mentioned podcasts but other suggestions include:

  • Audio books: I’m a total Audible convert

  • Colouring books: Particularly useful for the plane

  • Laptop: I love to settle in on the plane and get a ton of work done.