Looking after yourself is one of the most crucial to-dos, especially when you are away from home. But so many of us see travel as an escape, that we tend to let our self care slip.
I’m personally guilty of the ‘calories on vacation don’t count’ mentality, and forgetting to apply sunscreen as I would in my normal day at the beach (if you haven’t seen photos of my sunburn in the Galapagos and Antarctica they’ll make you cringe!).
So to make sure we’re having the best vacation possible, and returning home without needing a self care recorrect, here are four areas of self-care worth your attention when traveling.
Self-Care While Traveling
Looking After Your Skin and Hair
I’m someone who’s been sunburned to the point of now having a permanently damaged (red) nose (not applying sunscreen in Italy), not being able to walk in the Galapagos (full body wetsuit but forgot the ankles), and going red as a lobster in Antarctica (which is really noticable against the white glacial landscape!).
So I know first hand how essential is is to take care of your skin while traveling.
There are many ways to do so. Sunscreen first of all is something to take really seriously. When traveling internationally you may be entering a country with UV Rays more fierce than you are used to at home. Act accordingly to protect yourself and your health.
And don’t let chilly conditions fool you; you can easily get sunburned in the snow. UV radiation is reflected from light surfaces on the ground, and because snow reflects up to 80 percent of the UV light from the sun, it means you’re often being hit by the same rays twice.
So to protect your skin, make sure you pack water-resistant sunscreen (at least SPF30+) and wear sunglasses.
Beyond sun damage, between switching climates, rapidly changing your diet, flying in dry planes, swimming in saltwater, and so much more, travel can take a huge toll on your skin.
It can dry it out, crack it, and leave you with frustrating skin conditions you’ve never experienced. Natural skin care tricks are very easy to maintain while traveling, but you don’t want to forget about your hair.
The health of your hair is directly linked to the health of your skin (as well as a range of other health conditions), so remember to wear a hat to protect your scalp, and for maintaining self confidence, take pride in how you style it. Take a look at this article on ponytail hairstyles for some inspiration.
Caring for Your Body
Caring for your body when traveling actually encompasses a lot of different areas: the food you eat, keeping good circulation during long journeys, taking care of your eyes, and even wearing the right shoes to avoid sore feet.
Essentially, anything that puts your body under physical stress (which can be a lot while traveling), is something you should aim to counteract with good self care while on your vacation.
But we’ll focus on the most common area people slip: food.
With all this foodporn going around, it’s hard not to be tempted into overindulging in culinary delights when we ourselves go on holiday. However, all this obsessing over food can have negative impacts to our health when we travel if we’re not careful.
Not all iconic dishes from various countries are exactly good for you, so make a conscious effort to maintain healthy eating habits while traveling.
You can cook your own meals, opt for health alternatives, avoid hitting the hotel mini bar, and make sure you’re eating regularily, by not skipping meals like breakfast. Watching your portion sizes, limiting your alcohol intake, and staying active are also great ways to care for your body.
Sorry for waging war on your Margaritas!
Rest and Recuperation
Catching flights early in the morning and traveling to and through different time zones can really mess with your body clock. So it’s essential to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and down time when you travel.
Ever heard the saying ‘I need a vacation from my vacation?’.
It’s not great for your health!
Prioritize quick power naps rather than scrolling through your social media feed. There are many different techniques out there that you can use if you find it difficult to wind down and want to know how to fall asleep easily.
Have you heard about the method the US military uses? First relax your entire face and drop your shoulders and relax the rest of your body by breathing deeply. Now clear your mind by imagining a relaxing scenario.
This should help you stave off the effects of jetlag, and get proper sleep so you can enjoy full days traveling, and not feel totally exhausted when you get home.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Travel might be an escape from reality, but it’s never an escape from existing mental health conditions. If you have stress and anxiety in your day to day life, it’s likely that a certain amount of this will stay with you when you travel.
Travel can do wonders for our emotional and psychological well-being, but it can also exacerbate certain mental illnesses such as depression, panic disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia, and OCD.
So it’s incredibly important that you work mental health into your self care plan.
Ultimately, you know what’s right and what works for you, but general tips which may help can include managing your routine, and planning your trip in a way which avoids known mental health triggers (ie avoiding music festivals if you struggle with substance abuse).
Traveling with family and friends so that you have support, as opposed to going solo, can be a great way to feel secure, and as long as medications are GP approved, check this article for traveling with medications.
Self care is increidbly important while traveling, though it’s not always something we prioritize when we take a vacation.
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying cocktails on the beach in Mexico, or working on your tan in Greece, just remember that everything is better in moderation – we often feel the consequences later when we overindulge!