5 ways to look after your mental health while backpacking!

Hello fellow budget hunters, the Great Ambini here! This is a lovely guest post written by one of my best friends – Ella. She wrote this post for Mental Health Awareness week, which is this week (14th to 21st May) and is currently adventuring around Central America having a great time, she loves all things travel! So send her lots of love and I will now hand you over to Ella…

GUEST BLOG: 5 Ways To Look After Your Mental Health While Backpacking

For many, travelling is a spiritual and incredibly positive experience, but it’s no wonder that with all the changing faces and scenery of can also be a struggle for many – particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions. So, here’s my Top 5 Tips for taking care of your mental health whilst backpacking!

 

  1. Eat Well, Sleep Long and Hug Often

In all the rush of sightseeing, going out and making sure you don’t miss anything (then packing up, moving on and doing it all again in the next place) it can sometimes be hard to remember to eat properly. Those meals you do snatch may be on the hoof, from a street vendor or a quick bite in a cafe. Eating well and regularly is essential for our wellbeing so once in a while he sure to book into a hostel with kitchen facilities and make yourself something tasty and nutritious. The cost of this can be shared with another traveller (assuming your tastes are the same!) meaning you learn about the cuisine from another culture and maybe make a friend in the process.

Likewise, you won’t be able to enjoy yourself if you’re constantly exhausted so don’t be afraid to call it a night early and then in ready for the next days adventures. Hugs and physical contact are also important – if you’re travelling alone then you may find yourself lacking in huge and affection that you’re used to at home. Just ask someone! Most solo travellers will be feeling exactly the same way and be more than happy to give you a quick cwtch. Don’t got without!

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  1. Take Your Time

Not everyone is cut out for the two-days-here, three-days-there style of backpacking, if you can’t handle the pace then take it down a notch and get to know one place particularly well. Make it a home-from-home, an oasis of (relative) calm in an otherwise hectic and overwhelming trip. Not everybody feels the need to charge across a continent at stop speed, and you’ll find plenty of other travellers taking a more relaxed approach. If you need an extra day or so in a place just to gather your thoughts then that’s absolutely fine! Plans can change and your future self will probably thank you for taking a moment to recuperate.

  1. There’s Nothing Wrong With Joining A Tour

One of the main aspects of travelling which people find intimidating and stressful is the knowing what to do, where and when to do it. You can mitigate against this by joining an organised tour group, where your travel, accommodation and excursions will be arranged for you. If you get anxious about visiting new places then this is one option you should definitely consider, as an experienced guide will be with you every step of the way to address any queries or concerns may have.

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  1. Don’t Lose Touch With Home

It’s tempting when you travel to get so into the backpacking spirit that you forget about or ignore those, be they friends of family, back home. Maintaining a healthy level of contact with home can boost your confidence massively – they’re proud of you, they love you and they’re hanging on every word you say about your trip. This also means that if anything goes wrong, such as illness, you have the moral support you need to recover swiftly. The internet is obviously an option, but I supplement my emails and Facebook messages with hand written letters and postcards – the physical act of writing something down and then sending it to the other side of the world I find immensely therapeutic.

 

  1. Make Time For Nature

Across the world there are well established “backpacker routes” which to from city to city, occasionally passing through a national park or area of natural beauty. If I were you, I would try and maximise the amount of time spent in the natural areas – or better stjll, get off the beaten track altogether! The benefits of nature for our mental health are well documented, and I won’t bore you with them here, but what I will say is that the natural landscape can be both humbling and see inspiring, and that’s something to hold on to when you’re feeling anxious or down.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

 

Safe, healthy and happy travels to you all,

Ella

x x x

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13 Replies to “5 ways to look after your mental health while backpacking!”

  1. Excellent suggestions. I really like the one about joining tours. I sometimes feel ashamed to join tours, like it makes me less of “traveler”. However, most of the day tours I have gone on have been amazing. It was such a great opportunity to meet people (which I desperately need). Backpacking long term can be a bit lonely. I love being able to meet people who are interested in travel and touring.

    1. I am glad, it is difficult when you feel less of a traveller! But you can meet some awesome people on them!

  2. Very practical suggestions! I think it’s really important to keep mental health in mind when traveling for extended periods of time… I have the exact opposite though, my mental health drastically improves while traveling:P It’s when it’s time to go home that I need to start feeling better! Thanks for this post!

  3. Very useful suggestions. I don’t like taking tours and prefer to explore on my own but at times guides tours with a good guide can tell us about many hidden facts and places in a city. And yes, I keep in touch with home on the daily basis because that’s mandatory kind of rule for me 😉

  4. I know that I am guilty of not eating regularly, time run by so fast when traveling, so all of a sudden it is way passed lunch time! I try however to do food tours whenever they are available, so that way I learn about the food culture, taste local food, AND get lunch in time! Win-win-win 😉

  5. I think #2 would be the most important for anyone in this situation. You an tailor the trip to best fit your needs, so that should definitely be a priority. Maybe also making sure you are doing what you love, making time to read, write, do yoga or something.

  6. All this is so true for any type of traveling. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of everything and forget to take care of yourself. Love the suggestion of making sure to get out into nature for a reset. It really is so important for mental health to get away from the cities for a break. And while I love company, I also love the opportunity for a little alone time with my thoughts to work on mindset. Excellent post and suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Love this! Great advice and practical. It is so easy to be on automatic pilot – and not even realising you have let things slip – until it all comes crashing down. We have found slowing down and going at our own pace to be a great way of recharging and making sure we have enough energy.

  8. This is so great! It’s so important to take care of ourselves while traveling, but I think we often overlook it. Thanks for the great post!

  9. The first point is so me! At home, I’m all about food and count down until my next meal. When I’m on vacation, it’s not uncommon for me to forget to eat because I’m running around having fun. People who know me well are usually shocked at this.

  10. Great tips on an important topic! Traveling is always something that hugely helps my mental health so this wasn’t something I would have though of.

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