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Wellness Tips I’m Taking on Future Travels

by Nathalie Peña

*Disclaimer: We are aware of the state of the world we’re in right now. We encourage you to do research before traveling and taking any safety precautions necessary*

Traveling isn’t accessible to the masses, especially considering the state that our world is in right now. But the moment you finally get to take that trip you’ve dreamt of, there could be pressure to do EVERYTHING under the sun (hopefully you’ll be vacationing somewhere warm) for a limited amount of time. Rather than going with the flow, a packed schedule can leave you feeling overwhelmed and attached to certain activities and you may even have guilt loom over you if you stray away from those plans. 

My last few trips were to Chicago, Barcelona, and Paris. All these trips were for different purposes, were under a week long, and all involved different people. Traveling with loved ones can be fun, but when having to please different personalities are involved, it can get a little frustrating. I’ve traveled with my mother and sister-in-law, so you can guess that there were moments of irritation. 

As an anxious person who prefers everything planned in advance (I’ve shamelessly organized daily to-dos into categories) I sometimes bring stress to situations that never asked for them. So the more I travel, it’s been a priority of mine to have self check-ins to evaluate my mental health no matter who I’m with. Here’s some of the wellness tips I’ve picked up along the way and that I’ll be bringing to my future travels, whenever they can begin again.  

It’s ok to visit the same city several times

While studying abroad in a French village, I fell in love with Paris after my first weekend trip there. So I would take mini trips there once a month. Since each of these trips were about two  days long, I knew I needed a solid week to immerse myself in the city. As a graduation gift to myself, my boyfriend and I set out to live like Parisians since we already felt pretty comfortable in the city. It was six  full days of laying in front of the Eiffel Tower, carrying baguettes, cheese, and wine for a midday snack, and bouncing around cafes to people-watch. To this day, it’s been my favorite trip because it was the first time we really went with the flow and felt like we were part of the city. 

There’s no need to do all the touristy things 

Do you really want to be the 5th person talking about the same landmark instead of sharing the hidden gems you came across? Some people just aren’t into museums or architecture – sure I made it a priority to check out La Sagrada Familia while in Barcelona, but I wasn’t willing to cough up the money for the tickets to go inside when I know church interiors don’t really blow me away. I’d choose checking out the spots locals visit over an overpriced or over visited spot any day. 

Spending tons of money doesn’t = having fun 

My go-to excursions are usually free because for every costly one, there is a free alternative! Plus it’s a fun challenge to see what free/inexpensive activities the city offers. For example, my boyfriend and I spent hours bike riding in Chicago to check out Lake Michigan and some other parts of the town from a different perspective. It was also a more interactive way to spend time together instead of just taking a subway ride. 

But also know when to indulge!

Remember my bike ride mention? We were so tired to bike ride back home that we paid for an Uber. It’s all about priorities people! But seriously, spend money on things that matter to you. I prefer finding free events or simply walking around neighborhoods for hours. But I’ve also splurged on a cool architecture boat tour during my Chicago trip which made me walk away with tons of info about the city that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Whether your thing is food, museums, or convenience, spend money on what will amplify your trip. 

Walking should be your best friend 

Walking is a really great pastime and allows you to find interesting corners at any moment. It’s also nice to be surrounded by other locals taking a stroll. Walking during my trips is one of the few times when I can easily walk 15,000 steps and not feel tired (thanks to the adrenaline) — until getting back home feeling accomplished after all that physical effort. 

Know when to stop exploring and just observe 

Leave fomo at the door. Constant physical activity can make it difficult to take every moment in. I’m happy that my last trip to Paris consisted of a lot of rest, people watching, and cooking at an Airbnb because absorbing a new city can be done by seeing and listening just as much as doing. 

Listen to what your body and mind want at the moment while you travel. There’s no need for guilt or stress if your trip isn’t that long to begin with. The purpose of the trip also isn’t to show off  all the amazing things you’ve done to friends and family back home. Travel can involve a lot of self-growth and fun for just your own personal benefit, which is perfectly ok. 

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