While many people travel for relaxation, the act of traveling can sometimes get stressful. Catching flights, buses, trains, boats, etc. Trying your best not to forget to pack something. Getting homesick. Getting lost. There are a handful of things that could go wrong…luckily, if you find yourself becoming stressed, unwinding can help things go very right.
My biggest all around life tip ( that also applies in this situation ) is this: drink a lot of water, all the time! If you feel tired or sick or dizzy or have a headache; even if you feel fine and happy and golden–drink water! I always find myself feeling refreshed and in a much better place after guzzling some H2O. Instead of downing a Bloody Mary first thing on the plane, drink a glass of water, then indulge. It’s my cure for most things–drink, drink, drink water! If you’re dehydrated, even a little bit, your body isn’t running at its fullest potential–causing you to feel off or sick or tired. When you’re drinking plenty of water, your body is running in a much better fashion, causing you to feel better and less stressed! Tah-dah.
Here’s a scenario: you’re studying abroad for a semester in Venice. You’re about halfway through the semester–midterms, a bit of homesickness, stress on stress on stress. You spend most of your days inside studying for your tests or trying to catch up on sleep. You gaze longingly out the window of your flat, conflicted about all this studying because you know you should be out exploring this place you only get to enjoy for a handful of weeks longer. So on top of the school stress, there’s this inner battle duking it out inside you. Hmmm. My solution: study outside!
Once I discovered my favorite park in Prague, my study game was changed forever. I bought a ragged old blanket from a flea market in Denmark and deemed it my “park blanket”. Most afternoons, I would pack my park bag– blanket, snacks, school stuff, music, water, camera–and head to my enchanting park at the top of the hill. Studying outside really changed things for me…at first it was difficult because I would get so distracted by people running, rollerblading, walking dogs, slack lining, etc. After a while, however, I let myself get distracted every once in a while–I think it’s good for you! Your brain can only take so much “focus, focus, focus”, you know? Studying this way also calmed that inner battle of “I should study but also I should explore”–I knew that I was outside, breathing the fresh Prague air, experiencing and seeing a bit of native Prague people in their own place and culture, yet I was still getting some necessary things done. Perfect! Another way to get your school work done but also discover new places is go to a new cafe to study everyday! Two of my favorites in Prague include this literary cafe hidden away on one of my favorite Prague streets, and this more central yet not well known cafe.
Another big unwinding tip: rest. Just rest it out every once in a while. I struggled with this while on my study abroad because I am a “go, go, go” type of person, naturally–especially when I am first exploring a new place. My solution: squeeze in rest whenever and wherever you can. This doesn’t always mean that you have to sleep or take a nap, not at all! All it means is that if you make a conscious effort to rest, even for a couple of minutes, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed or whatever the case may be, you’ll probably find yourself feeling a bit better. On a plane or train or bus–just close your eyes for a bit. Strolling through the park on the way home from class–sit on a bench for 10 minutes! Go sit by the water for a minute. Take some time to read or write or just sit and be–even if it is only for a handful of minutes out of your busy day. Take some deep breaths and consciously tell yourself to relax. Doing this every once in a while, even just once a day, helped me to refocus and recenter myself and proceed with the day in a better state of mind. Even if you think it sounds a little silly or unnecessary–give it a try and see how you like it!
Try and find whatever unwinding method that works for you and work it into your daily schedule. Hopefully you will find it easier to enjoy your trip without all that extra stress following you around. Happy travels!