What I've Learned About Self Care While Traveling

Traveling and living abroad has always been a goal of mine. It’s actually been more of a dream. When I imagined myself studying in a new country, thoughts of spontaneous excursions, decadent food, and glorified experiences came to mind. After a month of living and studying in London, I have experienced all of the above. However, in my traveling fantasies, I hardly considered the fatigue, sickness, and all around unpleasantness that was bound to happen. 

After I initially arrived in London, I was so excited to be here that I wanted to experience everything at once. While being excited about a new place is a positive, it’s easy to go with the motions. Often times I found myself away from my room all day, only to return late at night remembering that I had neglected to eat anything that day besides chips and beer. 

My first recommendation for staying healthy while abroad is to cook. While I love eating out, cooking for myself gives me peace of mind because it’s healthier for me. Buying groceries from local stores and markets is also a cultural experience, and it’s cost effective. I’m still finding the balance between cooking at home and eating out, but I am really excited about honing in on my chef skills. 

Something else I’ve learned is the importance of establishing your home away from home. While I may only be in a place temporarily, creating a comforting environment is essential to my mental health. When I keep my room tidy, and have a place for each of my belongings, I truly feel the comfort of my own space,versus living out of a suitcase or backpack, which makes me feel like an animal.

It’s easy for me to constantly surround myself with others. Often times, I neglect to take much needed time for myself. While meeting new friends is part of the beauty of traveling, individual experiences are just as important. I make a point to go exploring on my own. Sometimes it’s to a museum, or sometimes it’s simply an aimless walk around town. Taking the time to be by myself helps ground me to the present moment and reflect on how I’m feeling. 

The main lesson I have learned thus far from studying abroad is the importance of self care. If I’m not prioritizing both my mental and physical health, I will not reach my fullest potential. I’m still learning how best to balance the inevitable spontaneity and excitement that traveling entails while remembering to take care of myself first.