I have spent most of the last seven years travelling, and in that time I've become an expert on how to travel stress-free. Most of the time, anyways.
On my trips, there were times when I felt like I had all the energy in the world; I could climb a mountain, go for a run, wander for miles around town. Other times, I felt exhausted and became prone to taking quick naps on the heated toilet seats of Japan's bathroom stalls. However, I am living proof that enjoyable travel and long-term travel is possible with CFS.
Whether you're off on a long-term backpacking trip or a week-long vacation, I hope these tips help you to travel stress-free!
8 tips on How to Reduce Stress While Travelling
1. Travel Alone for a stress-free vacation
Or at least with someone who will leave you alone when you need it. I understand that many people cannot or don't have the desire to travel alone, but there is nothing more exhausting than trying to keep up with someone else's plans and expectations. You may have a spouse or a family that makes travelling alone impossible or undesirable. That's okay too, just make sure everyone understands that you might choose to lie in til noon and then wander down the block to a cafe with a good book for a cup of tea and while away the day there while they are out sightseeing.
Solo travel gives you the flexibility to go at your own pace. Imagine waking up every day and doing exactly what you want to do or feel up to doing. I often felt more energetic when travelling despite being quite active and moving around a lot because I followed this rule. Each morning I woke up and assessed how I felt, and then built the days plans around how I was feeling. This is a gratifying way to reduce stress while travelling.
2. Don't over plan
Some things are essential to plan. You don't want to end up sleeping under a picnic table because you didn't book your B&B early enough. But the thought of strictly scheduled days makes my head spin a little.
Try not to be a checklist traveller; the type who needs to see every main sight or attraction. Pick a couple of things that you really want to see, and then spend the rest of your time enjoying the culture in other ways, like sitting for a few hours with a tea or gelato and absorbing the world around you. These passive activities can allow you to experience more of the culture than standing atop the Eiffel Tower, so don't put undue pressure on yourself to see it all! You can superimpose your super relaxed self in front of a photo of anything you like to show your friends!
3. Find natural destinations for stress-reducing travel
Big cities offer a lot of exciting things to do and interesting people and places to see. However, it is easy to get overstimulated, so while you don't have to avoid big cities altogether if you're a city kind of person, try to limit your time to a few days in each one, and spend some more time in smaller towns or in the countryside where you can be surrounded by beautiful nature and the questioning glances of the locals who have never seen a tourist before.
We also know that spending time outside in nature is fantastic for your health, so not only is this a tip on how to travel stress-free, it's also a great way to plan your holiday so that it adds to, rather than diminishes, the progress you are making with your health.
4. Travelling made easy? Go Slow
Is your holiday two weeks long? Try choosing just one or two different destinations for your trip. There is a lot to see in the world, and when you are heading to your dream destination, it can be hard to cut out some of the places you wanted to visit.
But travel, the act of travel, is very tiring.
If you know French or Spanish, you may notice that the verb for 'to work'- 'travailler' or 'trabajar' respectively, sounds and looks suspiciously similar to 'travel'. This is because travel comes from a Middle English word; 'travailen', inspired by the French, to mean: 'to torment, to labour, to journey'.
That's right, to torment. In our rush to get away from it all to lie on the beach for a week, we often forget that the act of travel in itself is labour. For some a labor of love, but be aware of the challenges of travel; waking up early to catch a train, long, uncomfortable bus rides, altitude changes in the air, etc. Go slow, and you will be rewarded not only with less travel time but by getting to know one spot or town really well. I try to stay in each place at least 3-7 days when I travel. When I'm on a long term trip, that number is 2 weeks to 3 months.
5. Stay in One Climate Zone
This is one piece of travel advice I am terrible at following, but if you are worried about burnout on long term travel, I would take heed of this. Changing climate zones is like jumping in a cold pool after sitting in a sauna, a little refreshing but a major shock to your body. Every time I've gotten a cold or started to feel like rubbish on this trip, it has been in climate zone transition.
6. Make Time for your self-care Strategies
If you are feeling well enough to travel, I'm guessing you've come up with some pretty fantastic self-care mechanisms to utilize your energy best. One of the biggest challenges of travel is keeping this up, as you no longer have your daily routine. It doesn't matter where you are; you will need to make time for this!
Even if it was just 5 minutes of meditating in the morning or a quick stretch or sun salutation after a long walk, I made sure, for most of my trip, to remember what allowed me to get this far in the first place, and to continue respecting the limits of my body. Just because I often now feel quite healthy and energetic, it doesn't mean I can go back to my old habits and expect any different results this time around. This one is significant, so I will repeat it: Make time for your self-care strategies!
Another great idea for how to travel stress-free is to plan a holiday to go to a resort or yoga retreat where they offer healthy food and yoga and meditation. That way, you'll have self-care built into your holiday!
7. To travel stress-free, Give your Travel a Purpose
Travel can often give us insight into who we are, what our values are, and how we function, as well as providing a broad insight into the global community. Maybe you want to see if you can learn a new language, or survive on your own in a small Thai village. Or perhaps you want to Travel to East Asia or India to learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurvedic practices to help you understand your health better. Maybe you want to meditate with the Tibetan monks, eat your way through Europe, or learn something you have always wanted to learn.
Travel is always more rewarding when you come back feeling like you are better off than when you left. You don't need to become one with the land or learn a tantric yoga pose to have a purpose, just something to write on a piece of paper, that you can pull out and look at every time you feel like you are crazy or tired or want to go home. Purpose will give you the courage to persevere when things are tough.
8. Go somewhere you love, to do something you love, with someone you love
The most essential thing CFS has taught me is to value what is really important in life. And it's not having a fancy career, or getting the highest marks in school, or surrounding yourself with perfect and important people. What matters is surrounding yourself with people whom you love unabashedly and who love you back just the same, and being able to do the things that fulfil you. If you can follow your passions, while being with the people you are passionate about, I am sure you will find your stress levels dropping.
I hope this helps you get on the trip you have always dreamed of going on! For more travel content, check out arogayoga.com/travel!