Last week, I experienced food poisoning for the first time.
It was horrid—apparently my body had a severe adverse reaction to the vegetarian chicken wrap I’d had for lunch from McDonald’s, in an effort to be budget-conscious in an expensive city like Salzburg, Austria. I did a day trip to the picturesque city from where I was staying in Munich, and it certainly put a damper on the tail end of my week in Germany.
The nausea lasted around five days, during which I visited Salzburg, Munich, and Venice. I didn’t want to be in bed by 8 pm and avoiding food all day long… but there I was, anyway, taking breaks to return to my hostel during the day to drink Sprite and eat three Ritz crackers in silence, so I wouldn’t exacerbate the ranging headache that came from dehydration.
I wanted nothing more than to be at home while I was feeling so sick, but instead I was by myself back at my hostel in Munich.
When you’re sick and away from home, it’s hard to take the time away from your day to recover. Even when you’re perfectly healthy, it’s still important to take time every couple days to do something different—read, write, watch a movie, things like that.
It’s so easy to feel guilty about doing the mundane things while traveling—aren’t you supposed to be on the grandest adventure of your life? Well, yes, of course—and that’s why it’s just that much more important to work on self-care, even in the middle of travel.
1. Cultivating hobbies.
When you’re traveling for an extensive period of time, you can’t forget about the person you are at home, too. When I’m at home, I love to cook, do yoga, and write. While I can’t cook most of the time here in Europe, I can do yoga and write. It’s beneficial to keep nurturing and growing in your basic sense of identity and daily life, if only so you have something to return to at home. Spend an hour a couple times a week to remember who you are aside from travel.
It’s beneficial to keep nurturing and growing in your basic sense of identity and daily life.
2. Avoiding travel burnout.
This is common on longer trips. I’ve felt it a couple times: the disinterest in travel, while traveling. Basically, for me, it looks like sleeping until 10:30 or returning to my hostel at 4 in the afternoon, just to close the curtains and watch Sex and the City for eight hours (yes, I did that). It’s not necessarily homesickness, but it’s kind of similar…. you’re just bored with travel. You’re tired of new experiences. You’re annoyed.
It sounds like such a privileged problem, doesn’t it? Oh, boo-hoo, you get to travel all over the world and you don’t even want to! But it’s not like that. It’s a real thing that is preventable and curable. The more you focus on self-care, even while abroad, the less travel burnout is likely to happen.
3. Allowing time for your mind to subconsciously process all the new experiences you’re having.
As I wrote above, each day is packed with NEW NEW NEW. Cultures, food, transportation, people, languages, architecture, etc etc etc. If you spend a couple chunks of time each week without the new new new, your mind soaks in the experiences and you’re able to retain them better.
When I went to India in August, I never took time to slow down and appreciate what I was experiencing, and I do dearly wish I had. Even an hour or two a week makes a huge difference—just to reflect, to meditate on the wonderful things you get to experience, to even watch a movie and let your subconscious work its magic.
Travel is exhausting! Every day, you’re figuring out how to get from your accommodation to the attractions, you’re waiting in lines, taking photos, learning new information, eating new food, and trying to remember it all. It’s easy to get tired. Taking time to just ~chill~ allows you to really absorb all the new experiences you’re having to the fullest extent.
Travel is a unique and honorable privilege, and it is not to be taken lightly. To allow yourself to fully soak it all in, let yourself rest. Sleep. Eat well.