Traveling is an extreme privilege not accessible to all, and it certainly shouldn't be taken for granted. However, and especially when it comes to those multiple-month-long trips that must be enjoyed at every second, because when will you get the chance again, the reality is, sometimes your travel schedule can be overwhelming. That longing for your old life of stability, routine, and day-long Netflix sessions calls you. Hard. So not if, but when you find yourself feeling like that, it's time to practice a little on-the-road self-care.
1. Get your nails done
Pamper yourself, basically. If you're not someone fond of having their cuticles clipped and a splash of color added to their fingertips, get a massage instead, or just buy something new and impractical from a place that feels familiar to you, whether that's a local market or a shiny new shopping center. While you'll surely have heard that experiences are worth more than material goods (true), sometimes you just want a material good. And that's fine.
2. Buy a book in your native language
And for the love of God (or your deity of choice, or not, as the case may be), read it. There's nothing worse than buying a new book on the road to have it only serve as a new hunk of clutter with which to weigh down your bag. Plus, while the act of hunting down a secondhand bookstore is surely half the fun, reading is the other half. Why your native language, though? Well, if you're somewhere that it's not widely spoken, your book can give you a little sliver of home that can help see you through the darker days.
3. Settle down somewhere
Long-term travel is often marked by a need to do everything, and there's a well-worn assumption that every single travel day must be productive as hell. This is a straight-up lie when you're traveling for an extended period, and an attitude like that will only lead you to burn out super fast and eventually question every decision that led you to hike a mountain at 4 a.m. in the rain. So take a break, recharge your batteries, and don't let yourself — or anyone else, for that matter — cast judgment on that decision.
4. Spend the day in bed
Similar, but not the same. Rather than making yourself at home in a certain place for a while, make yourself good and at home in bed. Do nothing that involves physical exertion. Browse your website and blogs of choice all day, or binge-watch soothing videos on YouTube. Just do something vaguely mindless, order your food to go (if possible), and relax. While going out, mingling and reading can be great sometimes; at other points, you just need to hole up like a hermit until your travel blues pass you by.
5. Build in some routine to your schedule
More often than not, when long-term travel is involved, routine is assuredly not. Ask a backpacker what day of the week it is, I dare ya. They likely won't have a clue. Not surprisingly, then, lugging your possessions from country to country for months on end can lead to you craving some kind of routine, so fake it till you make it and consciously build some into your schedule. It could be in the form of a 15-minute meditation session, afternoon yoga, or even just brushing up on your language skills using an app each evening before bed. (Feel free to ignore this advice if you reject routine wholeheartedly, you free spirit, you!)
6. Call your friends. And your parents.
"Call your parents" is (if you're lucky enough to still count this as an option, at least) possibly the best life advice for any minorly stressful situation. For a start, they'll just be pleased to know you're still alive, and you can (hopefully) feel free to vent your worries to them. Alternatively, call your friends and catch up. Hearing about their work schedules might just remind you of your privilege and kick your butt back into travel action, after all.
7. Hunt down some home comforts
When in doubt, food solves (mostly) everything. Especially when that food is something that transports you right back to your "old" life and reminds you of home. While brands or dishes native to your home country can sometimes be tricky to find abroad, you'd be surprised when and where things turn up (take that time I found Cadbury chocolate in the heart of Peru's Sacred Valley, for example). All that time hunting won't be in vain when you finally find what you're looking for, I promise.
8. Write something
Feel free to swap out "write" with anything else vaguely creative that you prefer to do, whether that's bullet journaling, doodling, or singing. Basically, as long as it's not just endless scrolling through social media or wallowing in existential dread, you'll feel instantly better. Plus, there's no better way to remember your trip than by creating something as you're on the road, be it a travel journal or a sketchbook.
9. Mingle with the locals
Especially if you're traveling alone, one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself is an afternoon mingling with the locals. Whether that means getting out of the hostel bar and into a city center equivalent or chatting with the vendors in the market, it can help you break out of the boring travel bubble of predictable small talk. Because telling everyone you meet where you're going next is, say it quietly, super-duper dull.
10. Do something that's not in the guidebook
Seriously, perhaps the biggest gift of self-care when traveling long-term is skipping the tourist traps, uh, attractions. Admittedly, they're often well worth the visit — after all, they didn't become popular for no reason — however, they can be expensive, overwhelming, and, more often than not, something your travel FOMO makes you feel like you have to do. Spoiler alert: not visiting Machu Picchu in Peru doesn't devalue your trip. Take the time to do what you really want, not what you feel obliged to do, and your trip will be all the better for it.