It's so important to make the most of your traveling, since we all know those vacation days are far and few between. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 84.7 percent of American workers get paid vacation. Of those who get paid vacation, the average number of those days is 10. As for the other American workers, paid vacation days are no guarantee. So what's the best way to take advantage of your time off? One way to do that is to practice self-care while traveling.
"People tend to take care of themselves more on vacation than in their daily lives," Khajak Keledjian, founder and CEO of Inscape, a meditation studio and app, tells Bustle. "But, if you’re only on vacation for one or two weeks a year, what happens the rest of the year? I see self-care as the new dimension of luxury. A vacation is an experience that serves as an escape from the routine. That’s the feeling to capture. To reduce stress and to find clarity, people are turning to meditation. As we continue to see overstimulation rise, finding time for yourself is important."
Just because the United States has yet to realize the importance of vacation days to a person's mental, emotional, and physical well-being, doesn't mean you should short-change yourself. Instead, make the most of your traveling by practicing self-care while doing so. Here are eight ways to practice self-care when you're traveling.
Because not all of us can afford to fly first class, it's important to pack the essentials so you can practice self-care every step of the way. In the Aria Travel Kit, you'll find everything from lip balm, to moisturizer, to socks, to a sleep mask, to anything else you need to make your journey not just bearable, but luxurious.
Focus Your Attention Inward
"People are looking for ways to focus inward, investing their time and energy on the internal now, as they've already focused on the external," says Keledjian. "Focusing inward — even just one percent of your day — leads to reduced stress, improved sleep, sharper awareness, lower heart rate, and heightened emotional intelligence."
Although it may seem like one percent of your day might not have that much of an effect, it will. "It makes you connect better with yourself, and everything and everyone around you," says Keledjian.
Get A Massage Or Stretch
"If your schedule permits, book a massage for after you land to relax you and give you time to center and think about your adventure ahead — whether it’s a work meeting or a leisurely day exploring a new city," says Keledjian.
If you don't have time for a massage, Keledjian suggests taking a bath and doing some stretching or yoga. "[It will] sync your mind and body before you set out for whatever’s on your agenda," he says.
Minimize Your Jet Lag
"I created a system to prepare for new time zones," says Keledjian. "Jet lag can be debilitating… if you only have a short time in a new place, why lose a day sleeping it off? I use a sleep plan that starts a few days before my departure. I take the time difference, cut it in half, and each night I go to bed incrementally earlier so that I’m closer to the time zone to where I’m headed."
Other great ways to help your jet lag be less, well, awful is to stay hydrated. Yes, that means skipping all the free alcohol you get on those international flights. If you can, avoid eating the plane food as it tends to be on the salty side. Also it's not so great on the bowels, and long flights already mess with your digestive system before you even throw in all that processed food.
Learn How To Meditate
When you get to a new place, it can take awhile before your body is able to adjust to your surroundings so you can sleep well. This is where meditation saves the day. It's just a matter of learning how to meditate, if you haven't yet.
"My meditation practice also changed the way I sleep — I generally get a deeper, more restful sleep," says Keledjian. "Naturally, when you’re in a new environment you don’t sleep as well because your body is programmed to be scanning for threats and keeping 'night watch' in case the venue turns out to be unsafe. So, to help you fall asleep once you arrive, you can also try breathing and mindfulness techniques to relax before bed."
Put That Phone Away
You're on vacation! You're traveling to faraway lands... or maybe just to Florida for the the 10th time. Either way, you're on holiday, so Keledjian suggest you indulge in a digital detox.
"Put your phone away and take in all that a new city has to offer," he says. "If you're traveling alone, join a group tour, cooking class, bike tour, or surf lesson. Put your phone away and enjoy not having to be plugged in to your normal everyday life."
"Be more mindful and aware of everything that’s happening and everything around you," says Keledjian. "Strive to be 100 percent present — after all, we’re human beings, not human doings and the better you connect with yourself, the better you can connect with everything around you — from the air you breathe, to the food you eat, to the people you meet, and the adventures you discover."
If you're not already practicing mindfulness, the time is now to get on that. It's not just a component of self-care, but a component to living a more fulfilling life.
We all deserve a break. We deserve to get out there and see what the world has to offer. But we also deserve to experience it in a way that's not stressful or overwhelming — you're on a vacation, after all. In including self-care, no matter where you go, you're just further enriching your entire experience and that's exactly what you want — especially since you only a few days a year to do so.