Holidays can feel like the perfect opportunity to be mindless…To take things in our stride and think about the consequences later. Taking things in our stride may include refuelling on pastries all day when in Paris, forgetting to schedule in sleep time when in Mykonos and sipping on a breakfast-time Aperol Spritz when in Italy. Or that might just be me!
But being mindless can be costly, especially when overseas. From my own experiences, I can tell you it’s less than ideal dealing with sickness, fatigue, and stress on holiday. Being cooped up in your accommodation, unable to leave the bathroom or being stuck in bed for days really isn’t money or time well spent.
Some of these things are out of our control. However, I do believe there are situations that avoided. Instinct could have avoided that time you got food poisoning from a restaurant that looked perfectly fine, in the middle of nowhere, serving up Paella for €3, that turned out to be too good to be true the next morning whilst slumped on the toilet. But we live and learn.
So, over the years, as a result of my many low points whilst on holiday, I have become increasingly mindful of how I travel, ensuring I feel my best and I’m able to Carpe Diem all day long.
I’m yet to have a perfect trip from start to finish but every time I follow these simple principles, which help me be well in the mind, body, and spirit, every trip starts to become considerably better than the last.
So simple, yet effective, and is usually the first thing to slip when being mindless on holiday. It’s even more essential when visiting warmer and even colder climates. Remember we’re being more active than our average day sat at our desks.
It’s easy to believe we’re hydrating ourselves when grabbing coffees and cocktails, which of course we so deserve on our break. But in fact, we’re extracting more water than necessary out of our system through urine; we are dehydrating ourselves. This is because both alcohol and caffeine act as diuretics, signalling the body to remove excess water.
I’m partial to a flat white and a glass of red on holiday (heck, even on a regular Tuesday), but I try to carry around a bottle of water with me, sipping as I go, making sure to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Another way I like to stay hydrated is by taking along with me herbals teas, a keep cup and maybe even a strainer for any loose-leaf tea I have. Herbal teas are a great way to keep calm and get in some great micronutrients, especially when my diet isn’t so balanced. I love travelling with the Pure Rooted Moringa tea because it helps me stay alert and full of energy for long stretches due to its ability to lower blood sugar levels, bound to spike with indulgent holiday snacks like croissants and gelato.
It’s so tempting and now normal to share every single moment of our holiday on Instagram. As a society, we have acknowledged Instagram is a highlight reel, so now we can feel less boastful about being boastful. The trouble with doing this I believe is that we take ourselves out the moment and start to see the trip through the gaze of our Insta-stories and social media footprint of our trip.
More than ever I’m appreciating the time before the rise of the ‘instant story’; say Snapchat or Instagram stories. In those days, even if we were on a social media platform; say Facebook or Bebo, we would probably upload photos in one big chunk when we got back. This meant we weren’t engaging with likes and comments during the time we should be chilling; say on the beach. But instead, we now create a narrative that spills out throughout the day for those that are not with us but are on the other side of the screen consuming our moments out of context. That’s not to say I don’t think we should share our holidays with our followers, but whether it’s Instagram, work emails, personal emails or news feeds, they all take us away from the moment we have been longing for; a break from the everyday.
Being mindful of how much time we stay ‘connected’ correlates to how well we feel about our trip. A truly great trip will pull you out of your ego and into your heart. Our ego wants us to update everyone that we are having the time of our lives, whilst our heart just wants to have the time of its life. So, when we chose our heart, the moment lingers with us forever. I think it’s because we exercise our memory muscles and aren’t so reliant on the online mementos that are stored away in our ‘Highlights’.
But realistically speaking we are going to want to capture our trip and if you’ve already been to my Instagram @cherylistripping you’ll know travel photography is my thing. But what I’m proposing is that we can consider sharing the photos at the end of the day, or when you arrive back home. This way you take it and carry on, instead of mindless scrolling and uploading and truly just be connected to the moment.
Speaking or meeting random people whilst travelling usually happens when we aren’t glued to our phones. Our in-person communication lines are open, so we appear approachable. This is also beneficial for our safety as we will consequently be more aware of our surroundings, especially being in an unfamiliar place.
Part of being on holiday is that we can step away from everyday life and gain some perspective from a distance. Journaling is one of my go-to rituals to gain some clarity on all that goes on in my life, so that doesn’t change whilst on holiday.
And naturally one of the first things I pack is a notebook and my favourite pen. The wrong pen can be a barrier to putting the words on paper.
I hear you say… ‘But can’t you save space and just use your phone?’. Of course, I can use my phone. However, if you are anything like me, one second you are typing, then you get a notification that there’s a 20% discount on Just Eat, then before you know it you are checking when the deal expires. Oh wait, what were you doing before you went to check the email? Never mind, I’m sure it’ll come back to you later. Then you swan off to do whatever’s next.
It’s a familiar struggle that comes with having a phone device that is set-up for multi-tasking and distraction. For that reason, I stick to jotting it down the old-fashion way.
This too can be great for free-writing and not editing your thoughts. You never know what inspires you during your trip and it’s important to capture it before the moment is gone or the details disappear.
Be comfortable… even in uncomfortable situations
Another thing that I found myself doing to make being away from home feel more homely is bringing along some creature comforts. You might be staying in a 5-star hotel, but still long for your favourite soap, so why not bring it along.
My creature comforts include things that make me feel rested, calm and prepared. That’s why my sleep mask comes with me everywhere. Too often have I found myself in rooms without blackout blinds, which as a light sleeper is essential to having a great night’s sleep.
Another thing I pack is a pair of flip-flops. They aren’t just for the beach but the perfect guard against the dust and dirt that might come with an Airbnb that hasn’t had a proper wipe down. I’ve stayed in hotels that provide a pair of slippers, but I find that they can be quite flimsy. This may seem unnecessary, but what’s necessary is to do what makes you feel most comfortable even in uncomfortable situations.
Pack the snacks
You don’t want to get caught out and craving, especially when you are travelling to more remote locations. And even if you do have shops in the area, they may have random opening times (think Spanish siestas).
Or worst you’re at the airport with no local currency left and refraining from using your card to purchase a bar of chocolate because quite possibly it’ll cost more in interest than the price of the chocolate bar itself.
I keep it simple and bring a pack of assorted fruit and nut mix. What I love about this is that it’s not terrible for you; in fact, quite good if you go for the unflavoured varieties and pace out the consumption over a couple of days (try to avoid eating the whole pack in one sitting, if you can).
Whatever your snack is you won’t regret packing it.
Find the balance
The more I travel the more I realise it’s not always as relaxing as one might expect. I guess I have never distinguished in my own mind the difference between going on holiday and going travelling. So now I define a holiday/vacation as taking a break from everyday life by zoning out and taking a chilled back, less itinerary-heavy approach. Travelling really is more exploration and adventure. In reality, my trips tend to verge on travelling, not leaving much time to rest and recuperate.
I think it is important to decide what your intentions are for the trip. And of course, both can be done if you have enough time and structure the trip well.
If you’re an introvert like me it’s vital to factor in restoration time, where you can spend time being idle even during the more explorative adventurous trips. This might mean saying no to some of the ‘must see’ attractions on every travel guide and choosing the ones that seem the most exciting to you.
It could also mean not feeling compelled to be out of your accommodation the whole day in order to maximise exploring the place. A lie-in or an evening in your Airbnb, hotel or hostel might be what you need to really find that balance.
Travel is a form of self-care, but the trick is to be self-aware to notice when you start to feel like you are drained whilst on your holiday.
So, I hope these tips from my own experiences will provide you with some food for thought.
If you want to find out more about London based Creative Cheryl and her 'tripping' around the world, check out her blog here.