Travel is remarkable. You are suddenly thrown into wild new cultures, with diverse ways of living, and somehow manage to acclimate and thrive in this great unknown. The challenges make you strong and the experiences give you life. It’s hard not to fall in love with the world.
But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it absolutely sucks. It makes you shrivel up and cry in the shower. It forces you to question your already questionable motives. It hurts you, both physically and emotionally. And it can totally tear your down.
These moments of frustration and distress are all a part of your journey, and while I think that they are special and imperative to your growth as a traveler, I believe that these struggles can also be mitigated; or at least made a bit more comfortable.
Before I jump into my tips and tricks, I want to put some emphasize on a crucial point. Every traveler, every single one of you, will be affected differently by the events and experiences of your trip. Certain things like extreme poverty or animal abuse hit some people a little harder than others. Some people need a comfy bed at night, while others might be willing to skimp on accommodation. There is no right way to feel. If you cry when you see a child’s outstretched hand, that’s okay. If your feelings are hurt when you are mistreated by a vendor, that’s okay. It’s all okay. The important thing is how you handle your struggles. You aren’t weak for feeling down or upset, you are human.
Got it? Okay, here are my top 7 tips for getting through the tough stuff:
- Create a routine that simulates life at home. Humans are innately habitual and this need doesn’t magically disappear when you travel. If you are someone who wakes up, drinks a cup of coffee and exercises every morning when you are home, try to also do that while abroad. It will help keep you sane.
- Be okay with moving on. If you arrive to a spot and totally aren’t felling it, there is nothing wrong with skipping town. Give it a day or two, but don’t waste your time not enjoying yourself.
- Don’t let one bad person or experience muddy your views of an entire population or country. Every country has a few bad apples, do your best to give each individual you interact with a chance.
- Take a “zero” day. Sometimes you just need a day to rest. It can be REALLY hard to have a mellow day, especially during a short trip, but it is so so so important! If you don’t take time to take care of yourself it will kick you in the ass later on. This day off will also allow some time to let all of your experiences sink in and build meaning.
- Talk. Holding in your frustrations is sure to create a volatile mental explosion. Force yourself to get out there and make friends or find someone you can confide in every once in awhile. Being left alone with your thoughts can be dangerous, share a little bit of yourself every so often
- Take a step back. More often than not, a seemingly terrible situation isn’t actually that bad if you are able to take a moment to access what is actually going on. A trick I use is to ask myself, “will I be able to laugh about this later?”. If the answer is yes, I can usually calm myself down.
These are just some of the tools I utilize to manage my travel struggles. They work really well for me, but I want to know what works for YOU!
What tricks have you personally used to overcome the not-so-great aspects of travel?