10 Fulfilling Ways to Take Care of Yourself When Traveling - This American Girl





cocles flowers



When you return home

from traveling

from your day

are you rejuvenated

or depleted?


Do you feel healthy?

Or in need of detoxification?


Many of us know

the toll

that travel

and life

can take

on our body

on our mind

on our spirit.


Often we are so fixated on what surrounds us

that we forget

to take care

of what matters most.




Two years ago someone asked me what I did to take care of myself.

I could not answer.


It was through travel that I learned to take care of my whole self, and today I would like to share with all of you, exactly what I do when traveling to keep myself feeling healthy and nurtured.


beach debris


1. Drink lots, and lots, and lots of water

Someone once told me that most of the time we feel hungry we are actually thirsty. Since hearing this “fact” I try to be more mindful of listening to exactly what my body wants. When traveling, we are likely in hotter climates, participating in physically exerting activities, and drinking significantly more alcohol. All of these factors necessitate we drink even more water than usual. For this reason I usually carry a liter of water with me wherever I go, keep a glass next to my bed, and always drink water with food and alcohol. I find that I know only have more energy, but I eat significantly less when I’m consciously drinking water throughout the day.


cocles trees


2. Exercise

No, I do not mean trudging from one platform to another with a pack double your body weight in New York, Paris, or London. Nor rolling the suitcase that simply would not fit in the overhead bin through potholes in unpaved uphill roads in Morocco. Dragging your belongings down dusty roads as you race to catch your bus in Costa Rica hardly counts.

Burning calories is not the goal here. The exercise I’m referring to is a period in the day where you are focused entirely on yourself and your breath. A time where you can clear your mind of unhelpful chatter. Physical movements that loosen the body preparing it for the strenuous activities travel is sure to bring. Take a long walk on the beach. Do an hour of yoga. Ride a bicycle through quaint villages allowing the breeze to kiss your skin. You will feel energized for your day, and relaxed for your night.


jungle leaves


3. Eat something healthy and delicious

While my mouth might tell me I want that crusty baguette, silky ice cream, or al dente spaghetti, I know my body needs otherwise. Travel is often full of splurges from fried street food to decadent dinners, so eat a nutritious, nourishing meal at least once per day to keep you balanced. Stick to whole unrefined grains, lean proteins, raw veggies, and colorful fruits. For me this usually takes form as a wholesome salad topped with quinoa, garbanzo beans, avocado, a dollop of farm yogurt, and lots of fresh herbs for flavor. A heaping bowl of local fruit with raw almonds, cacao, and coconut flakes. Grilled snapper with lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and basil alongside a pile of roasted veggies. What more could your body, or your mouth, ask for?


palm trees cocles


4. Express yourself creatively

Contrary to popular belief, we are all creative. We are all artists. We all have beauty to share through visual, spoken, and physical expression. Find a way to unleash yours. Allow the freedom of travel to free you from your perfectionism. Take beautiful photographs of the world around you. Draw your hopes and dreams in the sand. Write poetry while protected from the shade of a palm tree. Tell a beautiful story under the stars. Move your body with the flow of your breath. Feel the release and the joy it brings.


footprint cocles


5. Do something to make yourself feel beautiful

Slather your skin in coconut oil after a steamy shower, give yourself a pedicure scrubbing and massaging each toe, put on jewelry that makes you sparkle, wear a flowing dress no matter the time, no matter the setting. Smile.




6. Read a book that feeds your soul

Travel time, beach time, hammock time, bed time can all become fulfilling with the help of inspirational literature. Forget about the latest trends, forget about the classics you keep promising to read, and instead dive into something that connects you with yourself and the world around you. When we’re separated from the life we know, our minds and hearts tend to open making us that much more receptive to this type of personal growth. It gives our travel that much more meaning. Some of my favorites include Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch, everything by Paolo Coehlo, and most recently A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.


sea vines arrecife


7. Treat yourself to a massage, or if you can’t afford it, give yourself one

Show your body how much you appreciate it with a loving massage. In many countries around the world you can receive a relaxing hour long full body massage for less than thirty dollars. Take advantage of the opportunity to feel completely pampered at a fraction of the price. I know that for some travelers this is still cost prohibitive, so why not massage yourself? Touch is incredibly healing yet we tend to rely on others for the benefits. Lovingly rub your neck, your shoulders, your low back, your legs, your toes. After all, who knows what feels best for your body but you?


dried beach leaves


8. Have a fulfilling conversation with someone new

Traveling allows us to meet people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. For me, this is easily the greatest benefit of travel. I have met and forged friendships with Italian chefs living on the Caribbean Coast, conservative Christian Americans on their first trip outside the country, Brazilian engineering students on holiday, Moroccan Rastafarian surf instructors, Scottish comic book illustrators working with medicine men, Bali educated Australian yoga teachers, and close to a hundred others. Hearing their stories and sharing mine is an indescribable experience that I deeply treasure. I find it to be an important aspect of self growth and consequently self care.


le cameleon beach club


9. Get some sleep

Seriously. You need it.


ocean beach break


10. Stay focused on exactly what you want to do, for you

In life we can easily be pulled and swayed by the influence of others. I view my time traveling as my time. My time to be selfish. My time to take care of no one but myself. Still, I find myself aiming to please others and adapting my plans. When this happens, I pull myself back to what feels right to me in the moment. Where do you actually want to be right now? Who do you actually want to be with? What do you actually want to be doing? Your time is precious.

I know that this may not be possible when traveling with friends and family. Try to set boundaries and reserve time each day dedicated to no one but yourself.

Because you absolutely deserve it.


How do you take care of yourself when traveling?

How do you take care of yourself when you’re at home in your routine?


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