I just returned from a two-week vacation in New Zealand for the wedding of two wonderful humans, and it was refreshing as all hell!
It was also exhausting, but I (mostly) accepted that as part of the journey. Only some complaining about it:)
As someone who loves to travel internationally and experience new cultures, cuisines, cities, and adventures, I was forced to face my fear of losing control and going off the deep-end years ago.
In fact, when I backpacked throughout SE Asia for three months in 2014, it was the beginning of a very healing journey for me—in all aspects of my life, but especially food.
I succumbed to the lack of routine, the unusual (to me) foods, the lack of sleep (those overnight buses were ROUGH), and the absence of gyms. I decided that if there was ever a time to release the reigns and really double down on trusting myself, that was the time.
And so I did.
I committed to honoring my body and treating it with kindness and respect—a completely foreign concept to me at that point in time.
Listening to hunger signals and eating when I needed to, not when my three girlfriends were hungry.
Listening to fullness cues most of the time. When I decided to eat beyond the point of satisfaction, it was a very conscious choice.
Not eating to numb or distract from feelings of discomfort.
Asking myself if and when I truly wanted to consume alcohol. On that particular trip, I had maaaybe one drink every couple of days, and that was the perfect amount for me.
Developing this trust in myself around alcohol was one of the most liberating tools I acquired during that time.
Exercising when I wanted to—not due to any feelings of guilt or unworthiness. This usually meant bodyweight workouts or runs after long, overnight bus rides or when I needed to process energy.
To be clear, this wasn’t comfortable right off the bat. It was VERY uncomfortable in the beginning, and I feared that I would blow up from the lack of rigidity. To my surprise—the opposite occurred.
I lost weight—seemingly effortlessly!
While this wasn’t my intention whatsoever, it was incredibly eye opening for me.
I realized that I had it wrong all along.
My body is actually on my side, and it will settle at the weight it feels most comfortable with given my lifestyle and priorities at the time.
My job is to let it do its thing.
My journey with food and my body endured additional ebbs and flows once I returned to the states, but that extended period of travel taught me that travel is nothing to fear and has everything to teach us.
My Recent Trip
This most recent trip to New Zealand was a very different kind of trip from the one described above. I traveled with around 15 friends for a significant portion of it, had zero alone time, was constantly on the move, drank a significant (for me) amount of booze, and ate quite a bit of processed foods.
Yet, I didn’t doubt myself, my intentions, or my actions once.
Because I’m now able to see the bigger picture, and I trust myself and my body.
I don’t follow “rules” about filling up with protein and veggies, drinking a ton of water, not standing in particular parts of the room near food. NOPE.
I focus on ensuring my mind is right, that I’m actually living—not preparing for it—and that I’m being mindful of both my body and soul.
These are my top mindset tips and approaches to keep in mind while traveling, especially this holiday season!
Allow Room for Change – Our bodies are ever-changing on this journey, as are our lives. If you don’t want a stagnant and boring life (I don’t), then you can’t expect your body to exemplify those traits. Essentially, loosen up a bit!
Play the Long Game – Trips are temporary, and healthy foods and opportunities will be more readily available once you return home. What you do the majority of the time is what matters.
Interestingly, this isn’t even comforting to me anymore. I trust my ability to adapt to these situations so much now that I look forward to the change and excitement of the new!
Prioritize Your Mental Energy – Using mental energy on the unhealthy choices or the calories you’re consuming will instantly take you out of the present moment. What a tragedy it is to miss out on creating memories for such trivial matters!
I experienced this on a trip to Machu Picchu in 2015, and I vowed to never make that mistake again.
Weigh the Balance of Body & Soul – This is the big kicker, right here. Listen to what your body is telling you, and weigh that against what your soul is craving.
Does your body want rest and a night off from alcohol, but your soul is calling for another night out on the town with friends and a couple drinks? Which is more important to you in the moment, and is the payoff the next day worth it?
You won’t always get this answer right (you’ll know the next morning), but keep asking yourself these questions, and you’ll hone the skill of balancing these competing priorities.
The only “rule” I tend to follow is the last one, where I listen to both my body and soul, consider the action that will balance both of them (although they’re usually aligned), and act accordingly.
It’s tempting to cling to rigid rules that make us feel safe and in control, but the experience of travel should feel anything but. It’s the whole point!
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to various parts of the state, country, or world, then don’t let the amazing opportunity to go waste by playing small.
You already have everything you need within you.