Inevitably it is bound to happen to the constant traveler or digital nomad. You’ve been on the road for weeks, months, even years at a time, and you question whether you should go on anymore. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a part of the world where you have zero travel chemistry. Or maybe your dream destination no longer feels like a dream. You want to give up your nomadic life and go “home,” but for many of us digital nomads there is no longer a home as we gave that up when we left on our nomadic journey. And let’s face it, a rough patch isn’t really going to make us want to abandon our nomadic lifestyle.
Self care is incredibly important, especially when on the road. Of course self care means different things to different people. And sometimes, while traveling, it is much harder to take care of ourselves than when we are at “home.” For one, healthy and/or comfort food can be hard to find. And there is something to be said for chilling in your own bed, which is not really possible (unless you consider your guesthouse, hostel, Airbnb, or hotel to be your own bed, which, at some point in some of my travels, I do). Finally, you are most likely far away from your friends and family, your main support system. For me, being away from my cat, who is my #1 source of comfort, is so hard when I need some major self care.
So how can we care for ourselves on the road?
When I hit my breaking point, my first step is to find a place I love and chill for a few weeks at a time. Constantly being on the go is fun, but the fun ends from time to time when stability is what you crave. For example, this past summer during a big trip through Southeast Asia, I found myself in a major slump in Laos. As soon as I arrived in beautiful Luang Prabang, I decided to set up shop and stay there for a good chunk of time. I found a reasonably priced, comfortable guesthouse, and just chilled out for a while. Leaving Luang Prabang, I felt much better than when I arrived (until I got food poisoning on the two day slow boat to that Thai border, but that was just another hitch in the road).
This leads to another important point: giving yourself a break from constant activity is really important. There is nothing wrong with spending a day in your chosen accommodations doing nothing but watching Netflix, relaxing, and eating. Trust me, this is a proven method for soothing a weary travelers’ soul. You do not need to explore or see something new every day. For example, in Luang Prabang, I did not feel the need to see every temple or do all of the activities that every other backpacker does. Take a break and just relax for a bit if you are hitting your breaking point. That does not make you a bad traveler. Even if you do not see everything, your self care is more important.
In a previous post about my favorite travel splurges, I touched upon treating yourself to a fancy hotel from time to time. This is also a great method of self care. As I write this, I am at the Barceló hotel in Guatemala City, a five star hotel. I was reaching my breaking point after living and traveling in Guatemala for almost two months. After a series of disasters, I decided to book a nice hotel by the airport for my final two nights in this country. And I am so glad I did. Treating myself to room service and perhaps a massage tomorrow are just what I needed! Not to mention the bed is so comfortable and for the first time in months, I have reliable running water, and it is actually hot! I am literally just chilling at this hotel. The best part? Thanks to credits and loyalty points, two nights here is costing me about $30 USD! This is just what the travel doctor ordered.
My last tip applies specifically to digital nomads and those of us who are self-employed. Since most of us have no set work schedule, we often work every day, well over 40 hours a week. Our travels are not vacations, like people’s with traditional jobs. Therefore, it is ok to take a break from your work. While I want to make sure I can help make my clients’ travel dreams come true, I also know that I need to take care of myself to be at my best, professionally. So today I did not do any client based work. It was a needed rest period, and I can start fresh again tomorrow. To my fellow self-employed constant travelers, I highly recommend giving yourself a day off every once in a while. While everyone thinks it is such a glamorous lifestyle, being a digital nomad is a lot of hard work. Of course, the pros outweigh the cons or else we would all settle down somewhere. But for the sake of self care, it is ok to take a break from work!
I really was at the end of my rope earlier this week. But by taking control of my self care, I am ready to continue on. And thank goodness for that, as I am off to California for a few days soon and then it is on to setting up shop in Spain again! Spain for me is self-care as it is my “soulhome,” but I need to make sure I am fully recharged to be able to enjoy it during the holiday season while working from Madrid. And do not worry, I am ready to roll again! Need help with your travel planning? Let me know! Now that I had a bit of self-care, I am so ready to help you!