Adapted from a post I started on December 11, 2017
Just finished up some early morning yoga & meditation on our second day in Madrid. Unfortunately, i haven't been able to sleep much past 6:30 am for the last few days due to jet lag. It's been really frustrating, because I know my body needs the sleep. I keep crashing in the afternoon.
Today I thought I'd try to make use of these wee hours before my family got up. I went to the living room in our little Airbnb and did a 25-minute basic yoga sequence, followed by ten minutes of meditation. I'm already feeling 100x better as I write this, because I'm struggling with a couple things on this trip so far...
What Went Wrong
- Inclement Weather: It's much colder than anticipated in Spain, rendering about 1/3 of the clothes I brought useless. It rained the full two days we were in Porto.
- Foot Pain: On the second day, I developed a sore on the back of my left ankle, rendering 3/4 of the shoes I brought unwearable.
- PMS: Somehow, I'm always traveling at that time of the month. It wouldn't be a big deal if it weren't for the fact that I get so moody a few days before, which I tend to take out on the people I'm traveling with. Sorry family. (TMI? Too bad, it affects 50% of the population.)
- Jet Lag: An obvious one. I didn't have my trusty sleeping pills on the 11 hour flight over and got stuck between about five infants/toddlers.
- Sinuses: A travel doctor recently told me that the two most common ailments when traveling are sinus infections and UTIs. Both have to do with sitting on an airplane for hours on end, with the recirculating air promoting sinus trouble and the long stretches of sitting associated with UTIs.
So, all of these things are happening for me right now. I only make note of them, because I want to paint a realistic picture of my travel experiences. Instagram makes it all too easy to show a 1-D version of the experience.
Since this is life at the moment, I wanted to put forth some ideas for overcoming the above obstacles, should you run into them in your travels:
Tips for Prevention
- Pack for life, not Instagram: If you're like me, and all you're bringing is a carry-on and a backpack, fill it with practical items that will keep you warm and comfortable. There are plenty of styles that fit within this protocol. Make comfort your primary rule for each article of clothing, style as a secondary.
- Pack in layers: Whether you're going to the beach or Antartica, layers are always relevant. Making sure that your outfits support a tank top, t-shirt, long sleeve, or sweater is always smart. I've done a few packing lists that might help guide you in this process, which you can find here.
- Bring emergency prescriptions: While sleeping pills and antibiotics should never be your first resort, access to them when necessary can make or break your travel experience. Of course, I had both on my trip to Bali and didn't really need either. On the flip side, I've suffered from a UTI in Colombia and extreme jet lag/sinus infection in Spain. A doctor at my local travel clinic was able to prescribe me both.
How to Cope
- Write through it: Luckily, I have this space to vent my frustrations and work through them. It's just as effective to grab pen and paper, identify all of the things bothering you, and either working through solutions or "key learnings." Sometimes, there's not much more you can do with a bad situation than grow from it. But even that can be a comforting thought.
- Do some yoga: It's so important to stretch after sitting on an airplane or walking ten miles a day (if you don't normally). Either lead yourself or pull up a 20-minute yoga flow on YouTube. Here's a good one.
- Get away & meditate: This is a good idea even when you're not working through frustrations, but significatnly more helpful if you are. The alone time helps me be a better travel companion to those I'm with and the meditation helps bring awareness to my attitudes. From there, I'm able to make some of the necessary adjustments to get back into the travel spirit.
- Practice gratitude: At the end of the day, maybe travel setbacks are a silly thing to even write about, because you're already one of the luckier people on this earth. You're traveling for the sheer pleasure of it! Seeing new places, learning a different language, using your time as you please. Regardless of the small annoyances that may be bogging you down, the list of things to be grateful for is always longer. For me, it's devouring a book in just 4 days, the fact that my mom met us in Madrid safely, our incredibly charming Airbnb, and the unique, intoxicating smell of a European market.
So there you have it. An honest account of how life doesn't stop hitting you, even when you've lifted off out of your home city. In fact, sometime we're even less prepared to deal with life's curveballs when on vacation. Being creatures of habit, it's hard not to rely on our routines and fully stocked medicine cabinets when hotel hopping. I'm hoping that in writing this, I'll take my own advice next time and save a few others from my silly mistakes.
TL;DR: Just don't forget to pack your noise canceling headphones, neck pillow, emergen-c and sleeping pills on flights > 10 hours. I beg of you.
Do you have any tips for staying present when setbacks happen during vacation? I'd love to hear about them in the comments! If you're digging my suggestions, sign up for monthly BSM email updates in the site's footer below or via the Connect page.