In the words of historian Miriam Beard, travel is “a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the minds of the living”. While experiencing new cultures, navigating the unknown streets and neighborhoods can be exhilarating and adventurous, it can equally be nerve-racking and overwhelming. And when you want your trip to be enjoyable and a great memory, anxiousness and stress should be well managed.
Mental health and travel are very much connected and in order to stay healthy during our trip, there are some things we must know. So, let’s see what you can do to prevent unnecessary stress and to stay mentally healthy and physically fit while being on the road…long term.
#1. Have a plan
If you want to avoid complications and save yourself the unnecessary stress, planning your travel ahead is the right thing to do. Yes, unplanned and spontaneous trips are more fun and games but sometimes not planning can cause you more harm than good.
That’s why you should have some things prepared before you embark on your long-term travel. Before everything, you should check your passport to see if it’s current. Then make sure you have the visa and other necessary paperwork ready. Not all countries need a visa, but for those that do, gathering all the paperwork can take a long time and money. So, better start on time!
Another very important thing you must-have when you’re traveling long term is travel insurance. No matter the situation, travel insurance can be of great help. Whether you lost your luggage or an airline did, travel insurance comes in handy. There are, of course, much more serious situations like injuries or accidents in which travel insurance will have your back and you won’t have to pay a lot of money for medical services which can be extremely expensive.
Then comes one of the most expensive parts of planning a trip and that is the accommodation. Knowing where to stay in advance could be a lifesaver. So, planning this part of the trip early on will save you a lot of headaches and pains. If you want to save a pretty penny then consider staying in places like AirBnB’s or hostels.
Here we come to the greatest factor that can affect every trip – finances. Setting a budget for your travels is crucial. You have to know how much money you can spend and what you can spend that money on. Plan how much can you spend on the food, on other activities like sightseeing, tours and so on. Additionally, you must count in the unexpected situations and factors that can take away a big chunk of your budget!
And finally, we come to planning the actual trips. Knowing what places you want to visit, which landmarks are a must-see, etc. Planning this in advance can save you a lot of time and it can help you see a lot more than if you would go randomly without planning.
#2. Take care of your physical health
Taking care of your physical health can, in turn, help you maintain your mental health. Staying healthy and fit while you’re long-term traveling can make or break your travel experience. If you have done this before then you already know this, but if you’re a first-time traveler then there are some things you should know.
Before setting off to your journey, visit your physician to see whether you’re fit and healthy enough to begin such a big adventure. Once you have a green light from your physician you can be sure that everything is alright.
The next thing to do is to get all the necessary medication. You never know when you might need a painkiller or an antibiotic. That’s why having your meds at arms reach is a good idea. If you take a scheduled medication, having your pills close can help you a lot not to lose track of time and skip a dose you really need.
Staying active is what will ultimately save you from any health issues. Being active can reduce stress and insomnia. And being active can positively affect your mental health, too. Traveling can cause restlessness and anxiety, so in order to stay positive and anxiety-free, you must stay active.
Gaining weight when traveling happens more often than not. Exercising during your travels can be tricky as there is no routine and no regular classes. However, there are some things that you can do to stay in shape, be active and not gain any unnecessary weight. While on one of your long-term travels try running every morning, or maybe visiting the gym of the hotel you’re staying at. Ultimately, if none of the previous are possible, try doing some exercises in your hotel room – you can find a lot of short yet effective exercises on the internet.
Having some sort of regular exercise while on your trip will help keep you physically healthy and thus mentally as well.
#3. Eat healthy foods
The other thing that can keep you healthy and in the good physical condition is eating healthy food. This might seem difficult while you’re traveling but when you know that this will keep you in good physical and mental health than it’s worth a try.
Try to avoid fast-food restaurants and pubs. Too much meat and carbs can’t be good for your health, you need to include other healthier foods. For a more balanced diet try eating fruit, and those healthy and super convenient organic oats, as well as vegetables and do drink more water.
Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy diet during your travels is crucial to maintaining your mental health intact.
Being in one location for a longer time period allows you to cook your own meals. This may result in you saving some money and eating well. Having a healthy lifestyle while you’re traveling is equally important as if you were at home or maybe even more so. If the situation allows you, you can even stock up on some ingredients and fruits native to the place you’re visiting. That way you’d be eating food you otherwise wouldn’t.
In case, cooking healthy meals is impossible for you to do while on your travels, try finding restaurants and cafes that sell healthy cooked meals. Doing research on healthy eating options before you embark on your journey would be ideal. These kinds of researches are very easy to do these days as there are many healthy food and travel blogs that can help you out.
Another very important factor in staying healthy is staying hydrated. Drinking a lot of water will allow your body to handle many different climate and time changes. It will help settle your stomach in case you have those problems while traveling. These days, there are no worries of water being contaminated or not recommended for foreigners as bottled water can be bought anywhere, so there is no worry in regards to that.
Eating healthy while traveling is no longer a problem, you can maintain your healthy lifestyle even during your travels.
#4. Get as much sleep as possible
Giving yourself enough time to sleep is extremely important when you’re traveling. Skipping through time zones doesn’t combine well with sleep, but it’s important to learn to sleep basically anywhere. Sleep is very important for our immune system and our overall health. Being exhausted and running on little sleep can be very uncomfortable.
Additionally, the lack of sleep and tiredness has a bad effect on our mental health. When we are tired and slack a good night’s sleep, we are more likely to get stressed and irritated.
There are many things that can help you sleep when you’re traveling. For example, taking a hot shower before going to bed, having a pair of pajamas and a sleeping mask helps some people, too. A dark and cool room is a good idea as well. Simply follow some healthy sleeping practices and you’ll do just fine.
If you have trouble going to sleep and getting comfortable in new environments there is a solution for this too. If you can’t fall asleep without your pillow, then why not take it with you. Maybe the place you’re staying at is too loud and you just can’t stand loud noises when going to bed, try investing in some noise-canceling earplugs. And if, on the other hand, you can’t fall asleep because it’s too quiet, play soft music on your phone or just put some earphones and sleep will find you in no time. The point here is to try to mimic your home environment and maybe this will help lull you to sleep in new places.
#5. Find time to relax
Traveling long-term can be extremely stressful. The pre-travel planning, then actual trip and experiencing the unknown cultures and visiting all the things you want to see can be pretty overwhelming and stressful even.
The adventure and the excitement are all nice and dandy but you need to take a break every now and then. Find the time to just stop for a while and relax.
You can even put rest time into your extensive travel plan which will probably be packed with tons of interesting activities. Recuperating and taking a breather from all these activities is a must if you want to stay mentally healthy during your travels.
Take a book with you, go for a slow stroll or maybe just take a seat and don’t do anything for a while. Let yourself recharge the energy you will need for the remainder of your trip.
Music is a good way to unwind from the long exhausting day. Music is also a good stress reliever and it can help you change your mood. If you’re having trouble sleeping music can help you fall asleep much easier.
So, if you want to relax, reduce stress and anxiety, don’t forget to pack your iPod or download plenty of music to your phone.
Meditation is a very powerful stress reliever and it can be done pretty much anywhere. You can meditate while you’re walking through the forest – just take a couple of deep breaths and be aware of all the smells, sounds and sights around you, simply be one with the nature that surrounds you and you’ll feel better immediately.
When your swimming in the sea, ocean or a river, again mediate. The smell of the ocean and sea, as well as the sound of waves, have a soothing and calming effect on our minds. So, there is no better moment to meditate than when you’re bating in the sea.
Meditating can decrease the levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. So, whenever you feel like this long trip might be becoming too much for you, take a deep breath and think only about all the positive things.
Be aware of where you are and enjoy the moment that you’re in right now.
#7. Let yourself enjoy
And lastly, while maintaining your mental health in good shape during travels might be highly important, enjoying yourself and indulging in all the experiences this journey offers is equally as important.
In the end, you have set off on this trip for the sake of adventure and experience – so let it be enjoyable. If you find yourself thinking that you shouldn’t do something for whatever reason, stop for a second and think about how this moment is now and it might never happen again. So, don’t restrain yourself, indulge, enjoy and be present in the moment.
Embrace all the positive aspects of the journey and just let yourself enjoy it.
Staying mentally healthy during long-term travel isn’t all that difficult if you start this journey right. Always plan ahead, and plan everything even the unpredictable. Know that the unpredictable is a part of every long-term travel. Knowing this will prepare you for anything and that way save you unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Just relax and enjoy and know that your mental health is well when you’re following the right advice. The best you can do is live in the moment.