As I write this, I’m sitting in a crowded terminal in Boston’s Logan Airport waiting for my flight to France. Though there’s a lot of madness around me, I try not to get caught up in it. I like to think of myself as the eye of the storm — calm amongst the chaos.
Being balanced, serene and centered while traveling is something of an art. But it’s worth the effort and practice — traveling is a lot more enjoyable when you’re present and calm.
To that end, here are a few tips to get your Zen on:
1. Exercise. You might be on vacation, but your body is not. Exercise in your room, in your hotel’s gym, outside (i.e., running along the beach) or find a gym nearby — most offer guest passes. Investing just an hour of gym time in yourself can help reduce stress, improve sleep and increase energy. It’s definitely worthwhile.
2. Choose the right attitude. Most people approach traveling with the attitude of, “Uhh! I hate flights.” If that’s the case, you’ve already decided it’s going to be a terrible experience. Instead, make the decision to enjoy the journey. Find a good book or download some interesting movies on you iPad. A long flight can be hell — or six hours of scheduled “me” time. The choice is yours!
3. Eat right. There’s no such thing as “vacation” calories. The mentality of “I’ll eat an extra slice of cake — I’m on vacation” is not one supported by science. A calorie is a calorie and unhealthy options are always unhealthy. Make food choices that nourish your body and you’ll feel strong, alive and full of energy.
4. Do less and accomplish more. When traveling, many people try to do absolutely everything humanly possible. While it’s a tempting strategy, it usually results in seeing a lot but experiencing nothing. Instead of doing everything, just commit to doing a few things that you’ll actually enjoy. Rather than constantly looking at your watch, you’ll really be able to take in the experience. It makes a whole lot more sense.
5. Stay hydrated. Planes have notoriously dry air; make it a point to get some water whenever the stewards or stewardesses offer it. After going through security, buying a large bottle of water is my first priority. It makes your body infinitely more comfortable — especially on longer flights.
6. Meditate. Even if you don’t normally meditate, take just 5 or 10 minutes each day to sit quietly. Ideally, you could meditate in your hotel room where there are fewer distractions — but I’ve even meditated on a packed plane. If there is chaos around you, make it part of your practice! Tune it out and find your center. Among other things, it will help reduce tension, relieve stress and improve your mood.
7. Wash your hands. Airports, restaurants and public transportation facilities are often ripe with germs. Vacations are a lot more enjoyable when you’re healthy, so minimize your risk of getting sick by washing your hands often. Even if you don’t need to use the bathroom facilities, go in and wash your hands anyway.
These are my top 7 ways to stay sane while traveling — but feel free to share your own tips in the comments below!