Travel Self Care

How I control my social media when I travel (without disconnecting completely)

I love social media - but I am becoming more aware that social media has a dark side - it can so easily take you away from what you’re doing, especially when you’re travelling.  So I thought I would share my tips for making sure social media enhances your trip instead of pulling you away from it.

Don't cave in to free WiFi

When you’re travelling you’re probably taking some pretty amazing photos for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. The kind of photos that tend to get lots of likes and comments. It’s hard to resist the desire to check your phone and get the instant gratification it gives to see the notifications pop up.

One thing that I noticed overseas was that lots of places have free WiFi - museums, coffee shops, galleries - and I found it really hard to resist the urge to check my Instagram every time we were in one of these places.

I’ve mentioned before how important it is to disconnect in order to prioritise self care when you’re on holidays and this is an important part of that disconnect.

Don't edit on the go

Although it’s tempting to immediately go and edit the awesome photo you just took so you can share it on Instagram but please wait until you are back at your accommodation. Firstly this will allow you a chance to slowly go through the photos of the day and help imprint the memories forever. Secondly it prevents you from ignoring your friend, lover or your surroundings because you’re too busy selecting the perfect filter.

Choose your time to use the internet

As I mentioned above - a lot of places have free wifi these days; cafes, museums, galleries and of course any accommodation worth it’s salt has wifi these days.  And that’s awesome - but use this access wisely. Decide the times that you are going to connect to the internet and take mini internet detoxes in between.

I like to stay off of the internet in the morning and only connect in the afternoon. Normally by that stage I need some unthinking scrolling time and I find it strangely pleasurable to deny myself internet access with the promise of unbridled access later.

Use a hashtag

I know it sounds strange but having a hashtag for your travels is a great way to keep all your memories in one place. I love going back and seeing all the photos I took on our honeymoon - and they’re conveniently all linked together by the hashtag #lawrancehoneymoon. Jordan of Oh Happy Day is particularly awesome at coming up with amazing hashtags for her travels with her family.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo


Why it's important to prioritise self care when you travel

Self care is really important if you are travelling for any length of time. It will help you to keep up your energy levels so you can actually enjoy your adventures.

Drink Water

This is really important - when I’m on holidays its a habit that always seems to fall by the wayside. Unless you want your skin to get flaky and to feel tired all the time of course. Keep a water bottle handy whenever you can and just remember to occasionally take a pull from it.

Exercise

Now before you panic - by exercise I don’t mean pack your gym clothes and go for a run every day - unless you want to. All I mean is do something active on purpose. Stretch in your hotel room or walk or go for a swim.

Take time to rest

The longer the trip the more important it becomes to make time to lounge in your hotel room, take a bath and read or nap for awhile. You may think travel is relaxing but being places where you don't know the language, have to deal with problems that you don't easily know how to find the answer to and even the simple fact you don't get to go back to your own house at the end of the day take a toll that adds up over the weeks.

Use Your Brain

Inevitably when you are on holidays you will get bored. You don’t think that you will because you’re somewhere magical but inevitably you’re on a train for six hours or you’re in your hotel room and you aren’t tired enough for a nap but you really need to rest your feet.

When this happens be ready to entertain yourself - and what’s even better is this is a great chance to do all the things that you don’t have time for in your normal life - read, listen to podcasts, learn a language, write a novel.

Disconnect

Can I tell you a story? Mike and I were standing in the Acropolis museum looking at the Caryatids which are these incredible statues of women - incredible because they managed to hold up a temple for thousands of years without the women having necks resembling that of the All Blacks. Essentially - not a moment to ever forget.

Around us a bunch of American teenagers milled. All of them were on their phones or complaining about being in a museum and it was truly depressing to see - how awful that this genuine wonder of the Ancient World was less interesting than Snapchat.

Please please please switch off, disconnect, put your phone away on holidays. These are moments that you cannot get back. They are not the same as the moments where you are standing in line at the grocery store or on your commute. They are truly precious.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo


How to avoid the top five stumbling blocks of first time travel

Deciding to travel for the first time isn't without its challenges. I've definitely faced my own share of mental stumbling blocks on my various travels. So I thought I would share these stumbling blocks with you - and some tips to help get past them so you can enjoy your holiday as much as possible.

Not making time to rest

I am definitely an all go kind of girl when I’m on holidays - I want to do all the things, eat all the food, drink all the wine. I want to squeeze out as much fun as possible. I mean after all I’ve normally spent the last 12 months saving for this - I’m not letting a cent of that go to waste.

Of course this isn’t the healthiest way to approach a holiday - an event that is meant to be relaxing and recharging. Thankfully my husband is a lot better at chilling out than I am - he definitely sees the value in spending the afternoon hanging out in the hotel room having a nap. The ROI (that's return on investment for all you non-business speak geeks out there) on a holiday isn’t just the amount of adventures you have - it’s how relaxed you are as well.

Wanting to see it all

So you've spend a few thousand on flights to a magical new place and you want to make the most of the time you have. I mean there is a chance that you may never come back to this amazing place. Might I suggest an alternative? Always leave a reason to come back. I haven’t seen inside St Paul’s at the Vatican, we didn’t go to Burano or Murano in Venice and even though I’ve been to Paris twice we’ve barely seen anything north of the Champs Elysses.

It’s so easy to feel bad about missing places - but whenever I realise we won’t have time to see something I just tell myself “this is a reason to come back”.

Being scared

Travelling to a foreign country is scary. Before every trip I have been on I have thought at some point, “going overseas to a country where I don’t speak the language and the culture is different sounds like a bad idea. I should stay here in my safe, familiar home forever”.

The summary of my thought process when these fears rise up is: “feel the fear - do it anyway” Just remember being scared is totally normal - it’s not a sign that you shouldn’t travel. It’s not a sign that you should cancel your flights. It’s just a sign that growth and change is scary - and that travel is something that allows you to grow.

Preparation VS Spontaneity

For a long time I thought that being organised when you travel was akin to being “boring”. Travel is meant to be unstructured, unorganised and unplanned. Planning a holiday would make you one of those people in sitcoms who have an itinerary broken into 15 minute increments - and we always know that those people are shown the futility of organisation by the end of the episode.

There is something to be said though for being organised. In general you find nicer places to stay, better places to eat and more interesting places to visit.  It makes you more willing to embrace spontaneity - not less. Although some of our favourite adventures have been on a whim - one of the best meals we had in Italy was at a place recommended by people we met at Christmas dinner in Venice - I would have been far less likely to take a chance on it if I didn’t already have a delicious meal already planned for the night before.

Trying new things

It’s surprisingly easy these days to go to a new country and experience exactly nothing new. Between global chain stores and the universal love of Coca-Cola it’s easy to have no new experiences. Fight the urge to stick with what’s familiar! Try the the weird beverage from the vending machine - sure it might taste like cigarette water (true story that happened to me in Tokyo) but you’ll never know if don’t try it. Go into restaurants where the locals eat - it’s intimidating of course but it is almost always a lot more fun. And if the waiter offers you raki - you say yes*!

*Assuming of course that you are legally allowed to drink and do consume alcohol. Drink responsibly and so on.

Bonus: You take yourself with you

So this is something that Hilary Rushford has talked about a lot on her various platforms in the past (I've linked her Instagram because it's a good starting place).What she talks about (and what I have experienced myself) - is that you are still you when you travel.

So if you get anxious or nervous you won't just leave that element of your personality behind when you aren't at work. Sure you won't get anxious about your inbox anymore - but you might get anxious about missing flights or running out of money.

I'm still working on learning how to give room when I travel for myself and the quirky elements of my personality that I don't really like. 


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.