Who hasn’t seen a stunning travel experience on Instagram or watched an intrepid adventure vlog and thought: “I wish I could do that”?
While traveling can be exciting, stimulating, and memorable, it presents its own challenges. Loneliness, feeling like an outsider, missing events back home, and language barriers are just a few of the struggles you can experience when traveling.
Challenges on the road can knock your self-confidence and well-being, but there are ways to take care of your mental health while traveling. Here are our seven top tips to look after yourself.
1. Stay Organized and Establish a Routine
A good place to start with how to take care of your mental health while traveling is to stay organized. Being on the move can mean a lack of routine, and having little structure to your days could make you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or even a little distressed.
Without a structure to your days, you’re also more likely to focus on problems or perceived negatives that appear in your life. To combat this, try creating habits and a routine for yourself. Some of the benefits of having a routine, outlined by Headspace, include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety.
- Boosted creativity and productivity.
- Alleviated insomnia.
If you’re looking for a straightforward app to help organize your day, then try Microsoft To Do. This free cloud-based task management app allows you to create a daily planner, set goals and reminders, and even share tasks with other users. Find out how to use Microsoft To Do in our beginner’s guide.
Establishing a routine will help give you a sense of purpose and support your mental health while traveling.
Download: Microsoft To Do for Android | iOS (Free)
2. Download Offline Maps So You Never Get Lost
Getting lost can impact your mental health while traveling—namely your self-confidence and sense of independence—so it’s important to be prepared by using a map app.
It’s crucial to choose a navigation app that supports offline use, as you don’t want to get lost in an area of low signal or no internet. There are several free offline GPS navigation tools you can rely on if you don’t have an internet connection.
Google Maps is a free and largely dependable navigation app, and you can download map areas to use offline. (Find out how to download offline maps in Google Maps in our guide).
Download: Google Maps for Android | iOS (Free)
Having social connections is a vital part of our mental well-being. If you want to take care of your mental health while traveling, then establishing and maintaining social connections are crucial.
The CMHA highlights that connecting with others can help lower depression and anxiety, boost our self-esteem, and give us a sense of belonging. If you’re traveling in a country that speaks your native language, using apps such as Meetup can help you find groups of like-minded people with similar interests to you.
If you’re traveling abroad or in a country where you’re not familiar with the language, however, then a translation tool is a must. Even if the locals can speak your language, offering a greeting or a simple “thank you” in their native language can help you connect (plus, you’ll get a self-confidence boost from learning foreign phrases).
Try Google Translate—a free translation tool that allows you to download languages offline, type, speak and scan text to translate from one language to another. You can also store your favorite translations in a phrasebook.
Download: Google Translate for Android | iOS (Free)
4. Journal Your Feelings and Document Your Experiences
It’s widely accepted that journaling can help your mental well-being. If you’re looking for a simple way to take care of your mental health while traveling, then using a journal app can help.
Journaling while on the road is beneficial not only to reflect on your anxieties and problems (and finding working solutions) but it can also boost your mood. If you’re experiencing a lull in travels—whether that’s from prioritizing your freelance job over exploring, saving money by staying somewhere a bit dull, or if you’re missing events occurring back home—reading back over your travel memories can remind you of all the amazing things you’ve done.
Keeping a diary can help put things in perspective. By reading your travel memories, you can see how far you’ve come (literally and mentally), relive the memories you’ve created, and look forward to the next phase of your traveling.
You can create a beautiful trip diary with a free travel journal app. Alternatively, My Diary is an attractive journaling app that will allow you to jot down your thoughts and memories on the go.
Download: My Diary for Android | iOS (Free)
5. Stay Connected With Friends and Family Back Home
One of the most crucial ways to learn how to take care of your mental health while traveling is to ensure that you stay connected with family and friends while you’re away.
There are several ways you can maintain your closest relationships when traveling, from Netflix watch parties to playing online games together. Yet, picking up the phone or joining a video chat can provide a high-quality interaction with your loved ones.
There’s no shortage of messaging or video-call apps these days—the best platform to choose is the one that your friends and family also have. Try Zoom, Google Meet, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, or Microsoft Teams and see which one works for you.
6. Have a Pastime to Enjoy Guilt-free When You’re Feeling Low
Although fun and exciting, traveling can be exhausting. If you need to take a break from the demands of your travels, then having a guilt-free pastime to lose yourself in is ideal for looking after your well-being.
Escapism is a great tool for reducing stress. Use your favorite e-reader app to get lost in a book, immerse yourself in a video game, or get obsessed with a good series on a streaming platform, such as Netflix.
It’s important to allow yourself to indulge in a pastime that’s not demanding as a way of supporting your mental health while traveling. Dedicated downtime is always needed, whether at home or away.
Social media can be a double-edged sword for travelers—it can instill envy, FOMO, and a feeling of inadequacy. At other times, however, it can play a crucial role in helping us feel connected, especially if we’re traveling alone or missing big family events such as Christmas.
The key to looking after your mental health while traveling is to moderate your social media use. While deleting or deactivating your accounts might seem tempting when you’re feeling like you’re missing out back home, personalizing your feeds to limit FOMO-inducing posts might be a better choice.
You could also hide your social media apps from your home screen but enable notifications. That way, you will still receive messages from friends and family via social media—without the temptation to endlessly scroll.
Your Mental Health Is Always Important
Staying connected, journaling, and being self-sufficient are all great ways to look after your mental health while traveling. Keeping active and striving for a nourishing diet while on the move are also good ways to support your well-being. If you’re feeling low or in a mental health rut, make sure you reach out to someone you trust for support.