I love travelling, and I especially love flying. I find it a great opportunity to take a breath and catch up. For me it could be a book that’s fallen to the wayside, that movie I’ve been waiting to see, or simply a chance to reflect on the last few weeks – whether it’s the “go-go-go” of normal life or a crazy amazing holiday. I almost like that you’re trapped in one place with nowhere to go. In fact, I’m writing this draft while sat on our final flight home after almost two weeks in the UK, France and Maryland.
Something that I’ve been thinking about is a trap that I commonly fall into while on vacation: not keeping up with any form of healthy routine. I go into “holiday mode” and working out and eating healthy are not a priority. I’m living large and want to indulge, and experience all the new surroundings have to offer. I also very rarely get any downtime on the holidays that I plan, so by the time they are over I can feel quite low energy, worn out, over-fed, under-nourished, and find it difficult settling back into my routine when I get home.
Reflecting on this I have thought of some guidelines I can use to better take care of myself next time –
1. Get an accountability partner
The easiest way to stay active and healthy on vacation is by getting your partner, friends, family or whoever you are travelling with on board. They love you and want to see you happy and healthy, and they’ll likely want the same for themselves. Make a commitment to each other that you’ll follow some guidelines that you set out to have an awesome time without burning out.
2. Active vacationing
I think the best we felt on this holiday was in Paris. We were eating a lot of amazing food, and drinking a lot of incredible wine, AND we were walking 6 or 7 miles a day. Being out in the open air, walking, talking, and seeing the sites was such a low effort way of getting exercise that we didn’t even know we were doing it. Walking where possible is such an easy way to stay healthy on holiday, and you actually see more when your feet are on the ground. There are loads of other ways you can combine activity with site seeing and travel experiences; cycling, hiking, kayaking, surfing, climbing; without feeling like you have to take time from your holiday to go for a jog or fitness class. (Although, if the Eiffel Tower is at your doorstep, a morning run doesn’t sound too bad!). If you can, sign up for these ahead of time, have fun, take pictures, and make the experience a part of your time away. If none of these are accessible, get with your accountability partner and take a class, go for a run (or find an outdoor gym), or do a quick home workout, so you can fully enjoy the rest of your vacation.
In the spirit of secret exercise: PLAY! Playing with kids, dogs, friends is a surprising helluva workout and a loveable hug for your body and soul. Play includes: sports, swimming, dancing, signing, running, jumping, swinging, chasing children, chasing animals, running from animals (not advised in some travel destinations), doing handstands, taking pictures, and basically anything fun that lights up your body and mind and heart. Play does not include: thinking you’re too old for this shit. You’re not.
4. Don’t plan too much
Guilty. As. Charged. In 11 days we have visited London, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Paris, London again, Baltimore, and Frederick. That’s 8 cities, 4 countries, 5 flights (all non-stop) and a serious carbon footprint (!!!). We’d run from attraction to attraction, breakfasts to train stations, airports to dinners (although it did make for an awesome hashtag #lunchinparisdinnerinlondon), and almost collapse at the end of each night. Our intentions were good, we wanted to see everyone we could, and make the most of the time off and cross-Atlantic flight, and I love the so called “jet-set” lifestyle, but racing from place to place made it difficult to really be present in the moment when we were sat down with people, and it’s hard to have worthwhile and nourishing experiences with friends and family when you feel rushed.
It was an incredible, amazing, holiday, and we wouldn’t change it for the world, but it was really hard to strike the balance between making the most of time off and taking time to relax and connect with people.
We left each place wishing we had more time to spend there, our hearts breaking at the thought that our families might think we didn’t have time for them.
Because I only had two nights in London, I arranged dinner with any and all of my friends who were able to make it, but I came away from those dinners feeling like I hadn’t really reconnected with these people who I care about, missed, love to spend time with, and who made an effort to spend time with me. It was the same with my family and with Matt’s. We were in Cardiff for a big reunion on my mum’s side of the family. It was also the first time they were meeting Matt, and the first time I was meeting my sisters new boyfriend. Given the short time and huge number of people (we are a BIG family), catching up with my loving relatives almost felt like an elevator pitch. I felt guilty, and like I never have enough time for my family. We had the same experience meeting Matt’s family when we stopped through Baltimore and Frederick on the way (sort of) back to Houston. We left each place wishing we had more time to spend there, our hearts breaking at the thought that our families might think we didn’t have time for them.
I definitely have work in not over-filling my holidays, and finding ways to show my loved ones how much they are appreciated in my limited time off, and Matt is my newly recruited accountability partner to keep me in line from now on (he hit the ground running when he asked if I reeeeally needed to go to a yoga class an hour and a half after landing in Houston… I think he’s the right guy for the job!).
Here’s to travelling with intention.