How to Practice Travel Self-Care | Hostelling International USA

Avoid Travel Burnout with these 6 Tips for Travel Self-Care

21 August 2019

By Sarah Bence

Read more from Sarah on her blog, Endless Distances.

I learned how to practice travel self-care after a serious case of burnout. I’d been traveling “nomadically” without a home base for four months – during which time I visited 17 countries! However, I hardly experienced those places because I was so sick and stressed. Since that time, I’ve learned not only the importance of self-care during travel, but a few special tricks for how to practice it. To help you avoid your own case of travel burnout, here are my best travel self-care tips.

1. Let go of FOMO

women shopping at a street market

Does FOMO, or fear of missing out, haunt you on your travels? I can relate. When you only have a few days in a city, it can be tempting to try to rush through seeing all the sights. After all, you never know when you’ll be back.

But this can get dangerous and lead to exhaustion, stress, and even sickness. Besides, if you’re just ticking sights off a checklist, you’re not truly experiencing the place you’re in. It may be tough at first, but try to limit your sightseeing. Choose your top three or four sights and focus on quality rather than quantity. Additionally, spend time exploring neighborhoods rather than specific sights. As you wander, you’ll truly immerse yourself in the local culture, all at a relaxed pace. I’ve often found that I find true travel treasures when I wander without a specific destination in mind.

2. Don’t eat out for every meal

cutting board with vegetables

I am definitely a traveling foodie. However, just like you can burn out on sightseeing, you can also burn out from eating too much good food. If you’re like me and tend to stuff yourself on local delicacies, only to regret it an hour later, then this is an area where you can introduce travel self-care. Aim to prepare at least one meal a day in your accommodation (this is why I prefer to stay at hostels or homestays, where you can access a kitchen). You’ll end up appreciating the places you do eat out that much more! As a bonus, you’ll also save money.

3. Quit expectations

woman holding an umbrella

If you set unrealistic expectations for a trip, you will inevitably come home disappointed. Instead of getting frustrated by circumstances outside your control (like a thunderstorm when you wanted a beach day… been there!), try to go with the flow. Chances are, some equally incredible opportunity will pop up, as long as you’re open to it. For instance, recently I had a road trip planned to see lavender farms in peak bloom. Unfortunately, the lavender crops had largely been killed off by a late spring frost. Initially I was disappointed, but then I remembered to let go of my expectations. After some investigation, I discovered that the same region was famous for its wineries. Although the purpose of my trip changed (I spent it wine tasting rather than wandering lavender fields), I still had a good time.

4. Chill out at your accommodation

relaxing in a hammock at HI San Diego Point Loma hostel

It is totally acceptable to come back to your hostel, homestay, or hotel and have a nap. You’re on vacation, after all! I used to think chilling out at my accommodation was a “failure,” and I was wasting precious time I could be spending sightseeing. But it turns out, learning to actually rest gave me the energy to enjoy traveling that much more.

5. Bring a self-care travel kit

cup of tea

One of my favorite ways to practice travel self-care is to bring along a personalized self-care travel kit. What’s that? Just a simple collection of essentials that help me relax. Think of it like bringing a bit of home on the road with you. My favorite items in my own self-care travel kit are essential oils (lavender is particularly relaxing), a kindle full of new books, slippers (these feel particularly indulgent!), some sachets of my favorite tea, and a massive water bottle to keep me hydrated.

6. Keep a travel journal

man writing in a travel journal

I encourage everyone to keep a travel journal. I think this is one of the best, yet most overlooked forms of travel self-care. Give yourself a few minutes every evening before bed to journal your thoughts. Not only will this give you some me-time to reflect, but you’ll have something to look back on and remember your trip long after you get back home.


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