Taking care of yourself while travelling is just as important as having an amazing time! As a long-term traveller, I know how easy it can be – even in the midst of all the incredible opportunities – to forget to take care of your health and wellbeing.
That’s why I’ve taken the time to talk to other travellers and research the best self-care tips for all types of travellers. From budget backpackers to luxury tourists, there are simple and cost-effective ways to stay safe and sane while on the road.
How do you stay healthy while traveling? When it comes down to it, self-care is taking the time to slow down and figure out what you need, so the best self care routine while travelling looks different for every person. Practicing slow travel is becoming more and more popular.
Whatever self care means to you, there are definitely some consistent tips that can help you to thrive while you’re on the road.
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What is self-care?
Self-care can mean lots of things, but at its core it’s all about taking a moment to do the things that will help you improve both your mental and physical health.
This could be scheduling a doctor visit you’ve been putting off for a while, or it could just be spending a few hours napping to recover from a long day.
Why is self care important when travelling?
While travel is among the most amazing things in life, it’s also be one of the most stressful! When travelling, you’re spending time thinking about all of your basic needs in a way that comes naturally at home- from where you’re staying, to your next meal, to how you’re going to reach the next stop on your trip.
While that can be really fun and exciting, it can also very quickly lead to burn-out if you’re not careful.
So how do you practice self-care when traveling?
By spending a little time and energy prioritizing a basic self care routine. Make sure you don’t jeopardize those mental and physical needs while you’re exploring, and you’ll to enjoy your trip even more!
How to take care of your mental health while traveling
Mental health is truly the first step to having an amazing trip—if you’re not feeling 100%, it can be really hard to enjoy all the incredible things around you.
Here are a few tips that work for me to keep myself calm and collected while traveling.
While traveling is exciting, it can be chaotic! Taking a bit of time to meditate every day can do wonders.
If you’re new to meditation, I’d recommend downloading a meditation app like “Calm”, which can take you through guided meditations and get you started on your practice. For me, it’s a great idea to make this part of your self care night routine.
When I’m traveling, days can go by so quickly, leaving me feel like time is just slipping away. A major way I deal with this is by journaling every day when I’m on the road.
Even if it’s just in the notes app on my phone (although I love keeping a physical diary!), spending fifteen minutes a day outlining all the things I did really makes me appreciate what I’ve done, and gives me time to just reflect on the experiences I’m having.
One amazing thing about modern technology is the existence of remote therapy! If therapy is something that you depend on for your mental health in your daily life, the thought of being far away from your therapist can be nervewracking.
These therapists have much more flexible hours than traditional doctors, and all their sessions are available via video or phone calls, so you can keep up one important part of your routine- wherever your travels may take you.
Keep in touch
Meeting friends on the road (or bonding with your travel buddies) is great, but there’s something really grounding about taking some time to connect with loved ones back home.
Scheduling regular FaceTimes or calls with friends is a great way to recap what you’ve been doing, and to remind yourself of how much support you have, even if you may be far away at the moment.
Take “me time”
Sometimes the best thing to do is…nothing! If you’re traveling for a while, constantly being “on” can be tiring.
Spending an evening or morning just relaxing, watching a tv show, or sitting in the sun by yourself can help you to refresh and restore. You can really appreciate the experiences you’re having.
I particularly love to read a book during my “me time”- I always travel with a kindle, so I have access to an almost unlimited selection of good books to read while travelling at any given time.
How to keep up with your physical health while traveling
It’s easy to take physical health for granted, but long days on the road and a packed travel schedule can quickly cause some aches and pains. Staying healthy while traveling is easily achievable by doing a few small things.
Get the right vaccines ahead of your trip
The most important step for physical health starts way before you leave home! Check what vaccines are recommended for the country you’re visiting and make sure you leave plenty of time to schedule appointments.
To ensure you don’t have any issues entering countries or find yourself sick from something preventable.
Pack the necessities
While you’ll be able to access many of the medications you’re used to while on the road, it may be complicated to figure out the different names or brands in each country.
Pack yourself a travel self care kit with basic medicine like Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, travel sickness pills, and antacids, plus anything else you sometimes use, so you won’t have to rush to find them when you unexpectedly need them.
Remember that some medications are not permitted in some countries (such as ADHD medications). You may need to research or contact that country’s embassy to find out what you can take or need to provide. When travelling to another country, make sure you take a letter from your prescribing doctor and take your script and medication in the correct packaging with you.
Move your body every day
While it may be hard to do the type of exercise you’d do at home when traveling, staying active is a great way to feel good while you’re on the road.
Some of my favorite ways to get exercise on the go is by hiking, going on a sightseeing run, or booking a local yoga class (often in a beautiful setting!) There are even platforms like Go!Running Tours, where you can book to go on a sightseeing run with a local, getting both exercise and culture in one go.
If I stay somewhere for a couple days and it’s not an active vacation, I’ll also occasionally try to drop in at gym or go to a class. ClassPass is great for this, particularly if you’re visiting a city. With one membership, you can drop in to studios all over the world without having to pay any additional fees.
Break up long drives with some movement
Moving your body can be challenging if you’re driving a lot every day, so there are some essential road trip self-care tips to follow.
Make sure you’re leaving the car regularly to stretch your legs, maybe make some pit stops at smaller attractions along the way to get some steps in, and try to pack some healthy snacks for the road.
Hit the grocery store
While eating out and experiencing local cuisine is a great part of traveling, the extra ingredients and oils used in restaurant meals can add up over time!
By doing some shopping for basics like yoghurt, fruit, and healthy snacks like nuts, you can create a more balanced diet.
If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, you can even cook yourself a delicious meal using all the interesting ingredients you’ll find at the local grocery stores.
Travel skincare tips
Being in a new climate or environment, along with the added stresses of travel, can be tough on your skin. There are a few important steps you can take to keep your skincare in routine while you’re on the go.
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!
There’s nothing more important for your skin when traveling than always having a layer of SPF protecting your skin from harmful rays.
Which is why sunscreen is always the first recommendation offered by any dermatologist! Invest in good sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and make sure to reapply throughout the day.
While this tip may seem geared to sun-soaked vacations, it’s also important to bear in mind that being closer to the equator or being at higher elevation can increase your exposure to the sun – so even if it looks grey outside, be sure to lather on the SPF.
Pack a hat
While sunscreen is great, wearing a hat everyday is one of the best things you can do for your skin. It can also provide some shade to help keep you cooler if the sun is hot that day. It’s surprising how quickly you can get sunburnt even when its overcast.
Bring your routine with you
It can be hard to access the same type of skincare you’re used to at home while you’re on the road, so getting travel sized items of the products from your go-to self care face routine is a great way to make sure you can stay consistent.
Be sure to pack particularly hydrating products, as spending a lot of time in the sun (and on planes!) can quickly dry out your skin.
If you don’t yet have a good travel skincare routine, it can be a good idea to check out blogs or YouTube videos to plan one out—there are hundreds of videos on the subject, from best sun protection routines to the best nightly self-care routines for men.
Drink lots of water
It can be easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re always on the go, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your skin.
Invest in a good reusable water bottle that you can fill up with filtered water, and try to drink at least a half-gallon per day.
How to get a good night’s sleep while travelling
There are few things that can mess a day up quicker than waking up exhausted! While it’s hard to get as good of sleep in a hotel room or in a different time zone than you do at home in your own bed, following a few key steps can help you to avoid any nights of truly terrible sleep.
Always read reviews
Make sure to read reviews of places you’re staying to make sure they don’t have tons of complaints about noise or any other potential sleep pitfalls (like a really uncomfortable bed).
I don’t know about you, but I really value a good night’s sleep, so these kind of issues are some of the first things people will complain about.
Get the right gear
There are a lot of small things that go a long way when sleeping on a vacation. Investing in noise cancelling headphones (or even just simple earplugs) can be the easiest way to avoid any problems around hostel roommates or thin hotel walls.
Finding the right travel pillow can mean the difference between a sleepless night on a long plane ride and showing up at your destination with a solid 6 hours of sleep.
Find the right natural remedies for you
If you’re jetlagged or struggling to calm down after a long day, natural remedies can often be a great solution.
Melatonin tablets help you to fall asleep, without causing the grogginess that can come with other sleep aids. I would suggest trying the 3mg tablets and avoid the long release tablets, they can make you groggy and you’ll end up sleeping the day away.
If you’d prefer something even gentler, using essential oils like lavender on pulse points at night can help you to relax, unwind, and fall asleep.
Listen to a sleep podcast
If you’re still struggling to unwind, there’s a whole genre of podcasts dedicating to help you sleep.
Search in Spotify or Apple Podcasts for “sleep stories”, and you’ll find podcasts that are designed to help you drift off to sleep – so you won’t waste precious time tossing and turning.
Reaching peak relaxation on your travels
While all these tips for your basic self-care needs are helpful, there’s a level of self-care that I haven’t quite touched on- that true relaxing feeling of booking a nice treat for yourself!
Book yourself a massage
Wherever you’re going, there’s most likely going to be a spa somewhere around. By booking yourself a massage, you can spend some time not planning, not looking at your phone, and really just decompressing.
These are often way cheaper in other countries, so you can also almost feel like you’re saving money while indulging in some luxury.
Splurge for a night
While planning to a budget is satisfying (and helps you to make the most of your trip), sometimes spending a little more for a night is totally worth it.
Been staying in a hostel? Book yourself a private room! Been staying in basic accommodation? Book yourself somewhere with a pool and room service.
Treating yourself to something a little bit different, even for a night, can help you to relax, refresh, and recharge.
DIY a spa day
If you’re looking to get that spa feeling without breaking the budget, create your own experience!
Follow the locals
One of the best ways to find spots to unwind is by following the examples of the locals. A lot of destinations have really amazing spots to relax—from thermal baths in Budapest, to hammams in Marrakech.
Check out what types of experiences are typical for the place you’re visiting, and you can book yourself a cool cultural activity that will also make you feel light and breezy.
Taking care of women’s health while traveling
One thing people don’t talk about all that much (and should highlight more!) is how to manage periods while traveling.
This can be one of the most annoying things to come up as a female traveller, so it’s important to work out a self-care routine for women that works for you.
Plan ahead (if possible)
We all have our go-to-products for that time of the month, and odds are the country you’re visiting won’t have exactly the same options.
So be sure to get a shop in before your travels to pick up all of the supplies you’d usually use- from tampons to pain relievers for the inevitable cramps.
Consider your options when it comes to period care
When you’re traveling, it can be annoying to carry a stock of pads or tampons with you. This is where menstrual cups become a really amazing option.
They typically hold more than traditional products, so you have to change them way less, and you only need to pack one for your entire trip (although I’d invest in two so you have a spare with you!) It’s honestly a game changer when it comes to planning ahead on your vacation.
Is travel a form of self-care?
At the heart of it, I truly believe that travel can be a form of self-care. It’s taking time away from the every day to do something you love to do, whether that’s taking in the culture of a city or lying on the beach.
By following the simple self care vacation tips I’ve outlined and not overextending yourself, you should be able to leave your vacation feeling…like you’ve actually had a vacation.
FAQs About self care routine ideas when travelling
How can I find ideas for a self care routine while travelling?
You can find ideas for a self care routine while travelling through various online sources, such as blogs, magazines and travel websites. It is also helpful to talk to other travellers and see what kind of routines they follow.
What are some common items I should bring on my trip for a self care routine?
Common items that you should bring with you on your trip include toiletries, essential oils, face masks, relaxation music or calming podcasts, books or magazines, and snacks to keep your energy levels up.
How often should I take time each day to practice my self care routine?
Ideally, you should set aside at least 30 minutes each day to practice your self care routine while travelling. This will help you stay refreshed and energized throughout your journey.
Final Thoughts: self care while traveling
When it comes to travelling, self care should always take priority. While it can be difficult to maintain consistent self care when venturing far from home, there are many small things you can do that will make a big impact on your wellbeing.
Whether it’s setting aside time for a relaxing activity or carrying a few comforting items with you, taking the time and effort to prioritize your wellbeing while travelling will have long-lasting positive effects.
Read through this article to get some tips and ideas on how to take care of yourself while travelling so that you can explore the world feeling healthy and happy – ready to take on whatever comes your way!