Self-Care Travels, Too

Self-care as a fundamental necessity of life grows in popularity every year, but many find it hard enough to establish and accomplish such acts at home, so what happens when we travel? When your environment completely changes and few things look familiar, self-care becomes much more important and yet it can be harder to practice due to the overwhelming nature of traveling. Here are some ideas to continue your self-care even when you’re abroad. 

Bring it with you.

If your self-care routine is more elaborate such as painting or playing a sport, you likely won’t be able to bring the exact activity with you, but you can bring mementos of it. If you have some smaller objects that remind you of that self-care, bring them along. My self-care routine involves making time to spend with my friends and family; obviously, I can’t pack them all in my suitcase, but I can pack their pictures. When I get overwhelmed with my coursework or the culture shock, I can look at the pictures and recall how I feel when I get to spend time with them. 

Photos of my family and friends that I brought to the UK with me. Photo by Kat McCullum

Take a walk.

You know you want to embrace your inner-indie movie-star and wander around a historic city with earbuds in, sauntering to some dramatic ballad; so do it! Take the time in your day to explore the area and work through those thoughts in your head. The new environment might help make things clearer


Even if it is not part of your usual self-care practice, try it when you’re traveling. Recording your daily actions and events creates a pause in your day to reflect on how you are feeling. If you find yourself overwhelmed by anything, making that space gives you a chance to evaluate and reflect on that feeling, allowing you to better understand why you’re overwhelmed and how to avoid that feeling in the future. 

Treat yo’ self! 

Take the advice of iconic duo, Parks and Recreation’s Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle and (reasonably) treat yourself. I have a small cafe in town, Brew and Brownie, who make the most amazing treats, including American style pancakes with blueberries and bacon. When I get overwhelmed and need a space to clear my head or get some work done, I ditch my meal plan breakfast (Sorry, Hamline) and disappear with my laptop behind those beautifully golden and fluffy pancake stacks. Don’t be afraid to splurge on that dress or the more expensive entree, sometimes a little treat is the perfect way to recharge, calm the mind, and start again.

Pancakes from Brew and Brownie. Photo by Kat McCullum

Reach out.

When you’re in a study abroad situation, the university you’re studying at, as well as your home university, are there to support you. See if there are any clubs or societies on your new campus that are similar to your self-care practices at home, or reach out to your home university and ask their advice on how to blend those practices from home into your experience abroad. You are never alone, so no matter if you’re away for a weekend or a whole term, feel comfortable to reach out and ask for advice in bringing those self-care practices into your time away from your norm. 

Self-care takes many forms, and now it can take on any destination. Your trip will be best if you’re not stressed.