Did you know that I lived out of a backpack on and off for 10 years, running around the world living across Africa and Asia? Well, if you didn’t know- now you do! While I was certainly ready to wind down towards the end of my decade-long adventure, I will say that I managed to maintain a steady level of wellness along the way.
If you’re wondering what the heck wellness even is, highly suggest checking out this post to get a better idea. Otherwise, an abbreviated version is simply this: wellness is about feeling as balanced as possible in the body, mind, and heart.
The truth is that travel can throw our sense of balance all out of whack. This post will help you to strive towards balanced through 7 key tips to maintaining wellness on the road.
Let’s get into it!
7 Tips To Maintain Wellness on the Road
When we travel, we tend to lose our sense of grounding. I mean, think about it- we’re literally uprooted from our home, and planted somewhere else. If we look at this through the elements of yoga or Ayurveda, this decreased grounding (Earth element) would increase our Air element a lot. Heck, most of the time we’re flying through the air in the uprooting process, right? It makes sense.
Airiness isn’t bad, per se. But when it’s out of balance, and there’s no anchoring at all, it can feel a little disorienting. Think about air out of balance when you’re in nature- it turns into wind. Similarly, being in a windy environment for a long period of time can be disorienting.
This means that we want to work on cultivating more Earth elements to counter all of that Air element. The question is, how do we create a sense of grounding when we’re on the move? That’s where these 7 tips come in handy.
Routine is an extremely earthy activity. Why? Because it’s predictable, it’s stable, it’s unwavering. Similar to the earth, we don’t want our routines to become so fixed that they’re rigid, nor harsh. We want an element of give there to accommodate how you’re actually feeling, and what you actually need in the moment.
Your morning routine doesn’t have to be an elaborate, 3 hour event in order to start your day. Focus on the basics like general hygiene (wash your face, brush your teeth, rinse your nose, put on SPF), and then maybe add in one or two of your own little flares if you’d like.
I personally love to keep it simple, to ensure that I can actually do it. I highly recommend adding in a quick gratitude practice to start the day, as this grounds you in the present moment of exactly where you are. Presence will also help to ground you.
Ritual is earthy. It’s containing all of that whirly swirly wind that’s whipping around, and bringing you back into your body. Create an evening routine to let your body know that you’re winding down for the day.
Just like the morning routine, this doesn’t have to be a big to-do. In fact, sometimes simplicity is the most effective. Think of your evening routine as a way to prepare your body and mind for sleep, the same way your morning routine prepares you to wake up.
When Air element is out of balance, this can result in insomnia, as it’s hard to turn off all the wind between the ears. This is why adding the grounding element of ritual before bed will help you to actually settle in.
A great way to fully land into your new surroundings is to let yourself be outside barefoot- even if it’s just for a few minutes in the morning. Look, I get that this isn’t always possible given the weather, or certain environments (like you’re not going to walk around Delhi barefoot, right). So, just use your best judgment here.
If you are in a city, but you still want to ground in, try to find a park where you can pop your shoes off for a bit. If you’re somewhere snowy, cold, or just don’t want to walk barefoot- then take some time to give your feet some stretches in the comfort of your own room.
Your feet are related to your Root Chakra. The Root Chakra is related to the Earth element, and we’re trying to wake up and increase earthy energy. Get creative with foot, toe, and ankle stretches to activate your Root Chakra. Plus, even if you don’t believe in any of this, it feels good after a long day of travel. Can’t go wrong with that.
Try to get outside as soon as possible. Not only will this help you sync up your circadian rhythm, which is helpful in combating jet lag and/or insomnia. But it’s also helpful in cranking up the Earth element, because you’re literally OUTSIDE with the earth. Fresh air, natural light- these are all things you’ve likely been deprived of for hours on your travel to get wherever you are. And these are all things that help the body take a big sigh of relief.
I love to go for a walk when I arrive at a new place, because this also helps me to better understand my surroundings. Even more so than driving, or biking around. Gentle movement outside, like walking, will also help your digestion to regulate by getting things moving. Many people get blocked up when they travel, so adding in a simple activity like walking is a great way to support your digestion.
We can’t talk about wellness without talking about nourishment, can we?! Nourishment is really about whatever it is that you put in your body- food, water, content, media, etc. Fuel yourself wisely, according to your body’s needs.
For those of you seeking grounding, then Ayurveda says to lean into cooked foods during this time, rather than raw. For even more, seek out root veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets. Think of eating in a way that helps bring you into your body, something that’s a little denser than light, airy fruits or salads. Cooked food will also support your digestion, while raw food might aggravate it.
Check in with the amount of water that you’re drinking. Check in with the quality of the water. I highly suggest traveling with electrolytes like LMNT, because oftentimes bottled water has stripped all of the goodness out of water alongside the bad stuff that needed to be filtered out. Watering your body generously is a great way to improve digestion, and provide energy.
Above all else nourishment is done from a loving, celebratory place- rather than punishing or restricting. Nourish yourself in a way that ensures you’re enjoying your travels, rather than obsessing about calories and portions. Nourish yourself in a way that makes you feel as good as possible, even if it’s a little different than how you eat on a regular basis.
Increasing the Earth element and decreasing the Air element is all about getting out of our heads and into our bodies. Lack of sleep is literally a torture tactic. And for a good reason.
Traveling can certainly throw your sleep cycles off, with long flights, time zone changes, and all the bright lights of the airport. That’s okay. You’re going to be just fine having a night or two of rough (or no) sleep. But the point is that once you land, you let yourself land. Allow yourself a buffer of rest days on either end of your travels, if you can.
Take into account the exhaustion that can come with traveling, and rather than jumping straight into work the next day- see if you can leave a day early, to have a rest day in between. Sometimes this also means looking at different flight options, and deciding if paying an extra $200 is worth not taking a red eye. This will totally depend on you, your needs, and your budget.
Whether you’ve just flown across the world, or you bopped over to the next city- give yourself little pockets of landing and resting in between in order to avoid burnout. I promise you, your body and your mind will thank you.
See, wellness on the road isn’t as hard as you think, is it? I think you’re all set for your next trip. And I’m hoping that your body, mind, and heart feel more balanced than ever so that you can really enjoy your adventure.