Can you believe we’re at the halfway point of 2018?! I always fall into the same pattern: it takes me from January until late May to adjust to a “new year.” By June, I’m finally feeling settled as the weather heats up. By November I’m 5-10 lbs heavier and in denial that another year is approaching. Nevertheless, I’ve made a big effort to continue to put mental health at the forefront of my goals for each year.
To help combat my anxiety, creating rituals and routines in all areas of my life has helped my tremendously. One aspect of my life in particular that I’ve tried to improve with healthy boundaries and rituals is traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually filled with wanderlust to visit new places, but last year I reached a breaking point.
After years of college on the east coast, a long distance relationship, traveling to see friends in different states, and then moving to Atlanta in 2017, I grew extremely weary of traveling back and forth so frequently. So much so, that I had to cancel two full trips already paid for and planned in 2017. As a result of my constant travel schedule for the last few years, my mental health began to suffer. I felt like I spent all of my time in an airport eating junk. Then gradually, I stopped enjoying the trips I was taking and they began to feel more like a burden than a respite.
As much as I love to explore and see the world, I started getting anxious AF whenever I went to the airport. I knew I had to set some new travel boundaries and create a more sustainable routine for traveling each year. My friends already thought I was nuts for constantly living on the go–but when you live away from home and have friends in far away places, how can you resist?! Anyone else out there love to take quick trips when they see a great flight deal or have a place to crash? Maybe it’s just me!
When planning out your year (yes, as an adult everything has to be planned 5 million years in advance), here are my thoughts on how to plan an easy, breezy travel schedule that allows you to still enjoy your plans without going overboard.
Travel Wisely. By that I mean, hand-pick a few destinations for the year. This is especially important if you already have weddings, celebrations, work trips or other obligatory travel plans already booked. Or, maybe what you need is a quick road trip, cabin getaway or a staycation! Pick at least one destination that excites and resets you for the rest of your crazy, busy life. This year, my big reset was a weekend trip to a cabin to relax with Alec.
Embrace Variety. If you have some “not fun” travel during the year, balance out that stress with an easy, no plans vacation. Choose a month where you have nothing planned, so that you can look forward to something enjoyable after you endure that wedding or necessary work trip.
Don’t overbook yourself. Just like my eyes are bigger than my stomach, I used to completely overbook myself. I remember last year, I was going somewhere almost every other weekend from January to May. That’s crazy making! Granted, they were all cheap flights to visit friends (aka no expenses for accommodation), but I was totally drained after returning from each trip and I started to feel like my mental health wasn’t worth it.
Off-Days and Strategic Weekends. My latest and most favorite trick is to take an entire day off for travel OR a day off when I get back, that way I’m not frazzled as I jump back into work. I have a day to pack or grocery shop and meal prep when I get home, instead of making unhealthy choices and feeling exhausted about managing my routine. Hot tip: to save vacation days, I normally try to cluster my trips around (long) weekends or holidays to get a few free days in there!
Say No. A few years ago, even if I wasn’t thrilled about a trip, I was say yes just because I loved seeing new places. Last year, I started saying no and it felt so good to be in control of where my life was taking me. If you’re too tired or don’t have the funds to plan trips this year, just say no! At the end of the day, it’s not worth putting yourself through the stress of travel if you’re going to be anxious the entire time. Your people will understand.
No Travel Month. Whether you choose just one month or most months this year, make a conscious effort not to plan a single trip during that month(s), say no to things that don’t excite you, and take time to invest in your own self care routine.
This year, I blocked off March and April, because my summers and holidays are always the busiest time of the year. From now until December, I have 4 small trips planned, including my cabin getaway. I know this still may sound like a lot, but I always go home to SF for the holidays and the rest are quick, nearby weekend trips that I am thrilled about taking. I’m currently sitting in our cozy log cabin as I finish writing this post! I couldn’t feel more refreshed and ready to take on the rest of 2018.
Are you ready for the second half of 2018? More thoughts to come on travel, no-stress rituals and healthy boundaries for your schedule each year!
xoxo, your traveling sloth