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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Safe, healthy and happy travels to you all,
x x x
If you loved this – pin it!