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It can often be difficult to accept a low mood when we’re traveling. After-all, you’ve planned and saved for this vacation for months, so why can’t you enjoy this moment?

Travel can be a lifechanging and mood changing milestone, unburdening ourselves of our worries and stresses at home, breaking free of routine, and stimulating our creative energy once more. It allows us to rest, rejuvenate, and offers a reset.

But the biggest mistake travelers often run into is thinking that travel is an escape, and will instantly make us feel energetic and elated.

If you struggle with low energy levels / mood in your day to day life, taking a trip may be your shot at finding yourself once again. But low mood is often the side effect of underlying issues, which don’t always respect that you want to leave them at home when traveling.

The stresses of travel can often exacerbate issues like fatigue, or trigger them meaning you experince it for the first time when you’re already out there on the road.

There are many different causes of low mood, and we always recommend seeking proper medical advice for your specific circumstances. Though if you’ve gone through your list and still can’t figure out why you’re so low, here are three surprising things which could be tanking your mood abroad.

Mental Health While Traveling: Three Surprising Things That Can Tank Your Mood Abroad

Vitamin Deficiencies

Eating an apple in winter snow RF

Nutrition is inexplicably linked to your mood, and vitanmin deficiencies can be the cause of all kinds of issues, ranging from mood swings, to paranoia, irritability, confusion, dementia, and hallucinations (or mania).

If you have vitamin deifiencies in your day to day life, this isn’t going to be resolved when you travel, and in fact could be made even worse being that you don’t have access to the typical foods which make up a healthy diet.

Many people see travel as an excuse to indulge when it comes to food, and while a short break in your food habits shouldn’t put a normally health person off track, if you struggle with vitamin deficiencies, or were already sitting on the edge, travel alone won’t boost your mood.

Take, for instance, Vitamin B12. This vitamin is extremely hard to find in vegan diets, as it’s primarily found in foods like eggs, dairy products, and meat. But a deficiency in B12 has been shown to cause depression.

This includes other deficiencies, too. Those low iron levels? You guessed it. Anemia can also cause low mood (iron is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world).

Nutrition deficiencies are alarmingly common, so we recommend staying vigilent to the signs and symptoms, which could range from anything like dry eyes, to anemia, skin imflammation, dizziness, mood changes, or muscle pain.

If you believe you have a deficiency, see a doctor before heading out, as opposed to self prescribing from a foreign country.


Sleep with insomnia bed RF

Insomnia has been shown to be tied in closely with depression, and if you’re not getting enough sleep at night, that could be to blame for your low mood / energy. 

Many people only experience insomnia when they travel, though typically this is short-lived, caused by jet lag, which is the abrupt change in your body’s internal clock from having jumped across more than two time zones.

It can be really difficult to get a good nights sleep when you travel, whether you’re attempting to sleep on planes, buses, trains, or a really uncomfortable hotel bed mattress (with noise coming from the next room). But not sleeping can definitely impact your mental health.

The first few days of vacation can set the tone for your whole trip, so if you know you have trouble sleeping when you’re away from home, start sleeping in your destinations time zone a few days before arriving.

This may give you a headstart on beating jetlag so you can arrive in your destination fresh, with a clear head, and an energetic, upbeat mood.

Thyroid Disorders

Woman health thyroid RF

When most of us think about our thyroid, probably the first thing that comes to mind is the unexplained weight gain and fatigue that’s associated with impaired thyroid function.

And yes, hypothyroid disease can definitely lead to unwanted added pounds and tiredness, but it’s also so much more than that. Not only can problems with your thyroid cause you to start feeling cold and miserable all the time, but you may also start to see significant swings in your moods.

But hypothroid is only one side of the coin. Your thyroid levels can also cause your moods to veer off into the other direction, too, hyperthroid disease causing a racing heart, feeling overheated, and a quick temper. You may also start to feel yourself growing more anxious and nervous, too.

If you start to notice any changes in your mood, your weight, your temperature, and even how you feel in general, it could be traced back to your thyroid. In this case, either an at-home thyroid test or a chat with your physician may be more than overdue.

Staying healthy can be hard, especially in the lead up to a long awaited trip. But your mood and energy levels are directly linked to your physical health, so not taking care of this in advance may mean your fatigue travels with you.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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