This is part four in a four-part series for the Jewish Food Hero blog on self-care while traveling. (If you’re just joining us, you may read the other posts in the series here: physical self-care, self-care with children, and mental self-care.)
In today’s post, we’ll be talking about your self-care while traveling solo.
Just as I mentioned in the travel post about mental self-care while traveling, know that wherever you go, you bring yourself with you.
For that reason, take a moment to reflect on what you know about yourself…
Are you an over-planner, wanting to make sure every single detail is arranged in advance so there will be no worry during the trip? Are you very relaxed with logistics and will you often not care to know where you’re staying that night? Are you shy around people or overly trusting? Do you under-spend or over-spend while traveling?
The point here is not to judge, but to arm yourself with knowledge, so that you can be prepared for whatever your travel experience has to give you.
When you know yourself, you can focus on your natural strengths and bolster your weaknesses so they don’t sabotage the travel experience for you.
Here are my solo travel self-care dos and don’ts…
Do: Think about why you want to travel.
My personal favorite reasons for travel are volunteering and taking courses. Yours may be to experience a new city or trek through the wilderness.
Do: Set an intention.
The best way I’ve found to take care of myself while traveling alone is to set an intention. Actually, I set two intentions.
- To do something new (for me) in the world.
- To experience something internally.
Do: Trust yourself.
When one of your intentions is to have a meaningful experience with yourself, the entire travel experience is an opportunity to increase your overall trust and confidence in yourself.
Trust yourself to:
- Take care of yourself unconditionally
- Value your own companionship
- Connect deeply to your own interests
Traveling solo can affirm your own relationship with yourself (the most important relationship in your life).
Don’t: Forget about your safety.
As a feminist and global citizen, I’ve found that women have to pay more attention to their surroundings while traveling (just as they do where they live).
Don’t: Ignore the culture and place you’re traveling to.
Dress with respect and research any country-specific taboos ahead of time.
Do: Establish points of contact.
Think about how you want to meet and interact with people. For example, when I travel now, I usually go to Shabbat dinner and services at the Chabad center wherever I am.
Do: Prepare for strong emotions that might arise.
(Read the mental self-care travel post here.) Everyone responds differently to traveling alone; know that a wide range of emotions such as loneliness, exhilaration, disappointment, and boredom can arise for you, and choose ahead of time to respond to those emotions with kindness and care.
Do: Enjoy what you enjoy without judgement.
Other than respecting local culture and being aware of your safety, there are no “shoulds” while you travel alone (other than safety issues) – there is only what feels right to you. That may mean spending 8 hours in one museum, or walking aimlessly through the city, going to a spa, or staying in bed and reading ½ the day, or sitting at an outdoor cafe for hours. Just be with yourself and enjoy this special time.
Food for thought: When you’ve done solo travel, what have you found works best to take care of yourself?