Stress has many forms. It is not only an approaching deadline at work, stress can be of emotional, environmental, spiritual, and physical nature.
After intense stressful periods, or just for the fun of it, we seek travel and adventures to uplift our spirits and feel better, lively, rejuvenated. Here’s the thing. Travel itself is not only the romantic version of the best moments we get to experience. Travel can become a stressful and taxing experience for our bodies and souls.
The fixed schedules of flights, buses, trains and ferries and the need of punctuality can create time pressure. Traveling by plane exposes our bodies to the physical and environmental stress of radiation and air conditioning. Not to mention polluted air in busy hubs around the world. If we choose destinations we’ve never explored before, the Unknown can translate to challenges regarding communication in absolutely foreign languages, or being completely lost in translation. Moreover, we may find ourselves more on guard, because we wonder where is it safe? Is this a dangerous neighborhood, street, time to visit? At the same time, we want to take everything in, aiming not to miss out on a single thing. It is easy to push beyond our own limits for the purpose of doing it all.
Apart from that, when being on the road, it’s not always possible to satisfy our needs - eating (junk food is much more available than wholesome options), resting, using the bathroom, and exploring are often subject to a lot of compromise.
Out-of-the-ordinary experiences also challenge relationships and compatibility: opposing needs and preferences can lead to clashes more easily with our travel companions, particularly, because a trip can mean being together constantly while also being more stressed.
And all the while we’re being surrounded by a herd of people who go through a similar experience.
Altogether, the experience of the Unknown, of adventure and roaming around outside the comfort zone is not just one of the most magical things we can invest both time and money in. It is also a real challenge for maintaining a healthy balance, simply because our bodies love routine for that. We digest well when we rest well. So, as much as adventures and travel elevate the spirit, they also require plenty of happy compromises. And because my heart beats for exploring our beautiful planet and adventures, I have put together my tips for making it easier to maintain your balance while traveling and create these happy compromises yourself right here!
Recommendations for Soulistic Travels
I like to prepare meals before I travel. I am no fan of food served on planes and I frankly do not trust what is served. Since I had to live with my many allergies a few years ago I have become accustomed to make what I can have and actually like. So, food prep for your travels! Depending on the length of your trip, prepare an actual meal and make some treats. It is allowed to bring your own food on planes, the only thing you need to keep in mind is that it should not be liquid. I like to make quinoa salad, some kind of tabbouleh, or risotto. Salads are fine, too, but I am not a fan of soggy greens and it becomes a bit difficult to make a great dressing when you avoid liquids. You can also make something like quiche or a healthy pizza. I always improvise a bit with whatever I have left at home before travelling, too, to avoid food waste as much as I can. Concerning treats, I personally think bliss balls like my Apricot Bashew Bliss Balls with Maca, Matcha and Orange, cupcakes, banana bread, or a cake of your choice are great options. You can also bring dried fruits, nuts and seeds, or fruits like apples, peaches, pears, or bananas on the plane. Be mindful of your packaging to prevent them from getting squished.
All of this is surely easier when you’re travelling to somewhere and are able to prepare from home. But if you bring your own food containers on your first trip, you can simply wash and reuse them for any meals and snacks on your journey. For the return flight, I usually just get take-out food from restaurants with healthier options that I trust. Sometimes you even get a reduction for bringing your own food container!
Always carry snacks on you! This way you can make sure you don’t starve yourself while exploring your new surroundings. And keeping your blood sugar levels steady also prevents you from irritable outbursts (leading to arguments, possibly) when in fact, you’re just hangry. This is a smart way to go about your needs when you’re travelling with someone else, as when you are not hungry at the same time, you can take care of your own needs regardless.
Yes, the same applies to thirst! Stay hydrated! Bring your own water bottle. I’ve said this before: buy a refillable bottle that appeals to you. Cause when you think it’s pretty, no lie, you’ll like to carry it with you, use it and make it your travel buddy. I recommend a stainless steel or glass bottles (there are some with silicon sleeves to protect them from breaking). Alternatively, you can also simply use a big mason jar. This is a personal choice. Find what works best for you. There are some places where it is a challenge to figure out sources to actually refill your bottle with clean water, or at least safe tap water. For the most part, I found it is often possible to get a refill, even in restaurants and on planes, instead of using plastic cups.
With the elevated level of various stressors, our bodies need more antioxidants and nutritional detox support. I can feel this when I am on the road and often crave for green juices and smoothies or salads. Nothing tops fresh vegetables, fruits and greens to boost your health with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber (that binds toxins, by the way). So, look for that! (Disclaimer here: Be mindful of the hygiene standards regarding countries where fresh foods can be the source of bugs that cause digestive problems.)
To navigate new destinations a bit easier, I find it valuable to do my restaurant research in advance. Simply skim through Pinterest, Google, or Instagram to get some impressions of the restaurants around. You can save them in your google maps to remember where they are. This way, you create your own little map for your trip including better food options to choose from. You can even make them part of your itinerary among all the sights.
If you are open to taking supplements with you as you travel, my top three are vitamin C, magnesium, and probiotics. I take vitamin C form immune and antioxidant support, magnesium to support relaxation, and probiotics to protect my digestive system from foreign bugs. These probiotics can simply occupy space in your digestive system and therefore make it impossible or at least way harder for the bad guys to settle in.
I have found this to be so effective. The first time I went to India, I caught a bug after only two weeks. The second time I went, including my probiotics, I got nothing! The best option here is to go for probiotics that do not need to be refrigerated, because not every destination can guarantee the cool temperatures or a fridge you’d need for that. Chat with someone at your health food store to find the best solution for this purpose.
I take my vitamin C and probiotics with food throughout the day – often with my breakfast, because then it’s “done” and I don’t need to think of it wherever I go anymore – and magnesium with dinner or before going to bed to facilitate improved sleep and relaxation.
Another thing: if you travel to destinations where fresh, uncooked food is too risky to have, you can also buy greens powder or fiber supplements in a health food store of your choice. Rely on whole foods where you can for all the nutrients and fiber, but when the circumstances don’t allow for it, this is better than not having any of it at all.
If you are like me and you tend to get headaches when you’re stressed, or travelling, try out applying some tiger balm or real mint essential oil on your temples instead of pain killers. I also travel with lavender oil in my bag to soothe muscle pains. Apart from that, a hydrating nasal spray (not the one that reduces swelling) containing sea salt can be a good remedy whenever your nasal mucosal lining suffers from air conditioning and dries out. Keeping the mucosal lining hydrated is essential, because it’s necessary for our system to flush out any bacteria and viruses we might catch along the way.
Rest, Comfort, and Healthy Habits
Have you ever gotten on a plane and as soon as the plane took off, the air conditioning had you freezing? Bring your own cozy socks in your hand luggage and wear them instead of your shoes when you’re on the plane. I also always bring a thin scarf and a cardigan to wrap myself up in them when I’m cold (this also applies to buses and other means of transportation).
When I travel, I also make sure to carry my ear plugs on me! This is not just a life savior when staying in hostels, but literally everywhere. Keep them in your hand luggage and you’ll be able to take naps wherever you go.
I generally wear clothes that are loose and comfortable when sitting. I often see women in high heels. This might just not be my cup of tea, but I swear, your choice of clothing can make a huge difference in your travel experience.
Apart from that, incorporating nature (parks, seaside) visits into your trip can help you stay balanced and recharge your system. Yes, forest bathing is a thing. Make time for simply strolling aimlessly or having a tea and refreshments in calming surroundings. When you’re looking to get around easily without getting lost, having a look at the map of where you are to get a sense of orientation and locate the sights and places you are interested in takes away a lot of stress. I encourage you to still being open to whatever comes your way instead of strictly sticking to a road map you create, though. But this is again a personal choice. Other than that, I sometimes do some research on sketchy neighborhoods etc. and try to gain some insights into which times of the day are safe for me (whenever I travel alone, especially).
The same applies to language: find some basic vocabulary for the languages spoken in your destination of choice.
Moreover, I really recommend getting enough sleep (7-8 hours). I tend to walk and move so much more when I explore any destination. That is more exhausting physically, but I love familiarizing myself with places on foot. It slows down the experience and the nice extra benefit of it is that walking a lot (or biking, depending on the infrastructure and availability) also means I make sure I move enough, when I am not able to stick to my usual movement routine. I often travel with my yoga mat, too. This enables me to do yoga in my hotel room or anywhere I like.
Regarding managing and balancing the relationships with your travel buddies, friends, or partners, remember this: it is okay to have different needs at different times. Compromise. Go separate ways, even if it is just for one or two hours. Schedule in your Al(o)ne time. And try to communicate with a compassionate, open heart. Remind yourself of why you’re here together. And that you’re not the only one feeling stressed. Respecting yourself and the other is key.