Whatever your reason for travelling, it inspires growth like very little else. It’s an incredible way to grow as a person, but it can also be a tough challenge, so it’s important to look after your mental health when travelling.

You’re not just creating lasting memories with great people, but you’re overcoming unique challenges to do so. Anyone that’s ever travelled, whether that be a 2-day city break or a 2-year stint working abroad, will state they encountered at least a few tough times.

It’s all part of the journey and it’s normal.

You don’t get the good without the bad, or the reward without the challenge. Sometimes, things can feel a little overwhelming for your mental health when travelling, and it would be weird if it didn’t. The best thing you can do is acknowledge it as normal and understand that it’s your minds way of trying to keep you aware and safe. 

These moments help build up your resilience if you meet the challenge head-on, so having techniques ready to support your mental health when travelling will help set you up for success.



1 – Don’t be afraid to call friends or family back home to help your mental health when travelling

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Homesickness is one of the most common reasons for feeling glum when travelling.

It’s also the most understandable. You’re used to a certain way of life with certain people and that suddenly changes. It can spring up in the most random ways. You may be missing the way your siblings annoy you, or even having a good cup of tea. There’s no need to “strong” it through to prove you’re some sort of battle-hardened traveller. FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom etc all exist to keep us connected, so make the most of touching base back home.

Sometimes the simplest call can unload a lot of weight off your shoulders.



2 – Don’t be afraid to reveal your emotions to yourself

Taking a line from the last point, there’s no need for you to “strong it out”.

Things can be tough, so don’t bury your emotions and try to pretend they’re not there. Accept them, work out what they’re trying to tell you and come up with a solution in response. Emotions are great indicators at times, yet they can also be an impulse response.

Take time to chill, think through why you’re feeling the way you are, and you’ll then have more answers than questions.



3 – Take time out solo

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The beauty of travelling is not only the places you go to but the people you meet.

The eclectic tapestry of travellers you encounter will provide you with some of the best stories and moments in your life. You’ll find your travels chop and change as circumstances do, and you’ll no doubt say the phrase “I’ll go with the flow” many times. Yet at the same time, don’t feel bad in taking a step back once in a while and doing what you want to do. If everyone’s heading to a bar and you feel you need a Netflix night, or some quiet reflection time, then take it. There are countless opportunities when travelling and they come daily.

Taking time to yourself allows you to recharge, refocus and realign with why you’re travelling.



4 – Find time to exercise

You may not feel like it, but the benefits of exercise are well-known and more important than ever when travelling.

We all know on the road we may not keep our physical health at the forefront of our mind, which is fine as a holiday is a well-deserved break. But even the odd bit of exercise and raising your heart rate will have fantastic benefits. You don’t have to head into some unknown, back alley gym, a simple run will work wonders.

You’re no doubt in a picturesque location anyway, so get something like Strava downloaded, take a few pictures and make that jog an enjoyable one.



5 – Sleep

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Now I know I’ll have the “you don’t remember the nights you got loads of sleep” phrase thrown at me.

That’s true, but the nights you get a lot of sleep are the ones that fuel you with energy to take on the following evening at full power.

Sleep is an important tool in repairing your body and resetting, so use it well.



6 – Avoid the booze for a bit 

The incredible nights out you have when travelling can mean that dealing with a hangover on a beach with a coconut drink sounds manageable.

It is, but the amount of ‘nights out’ that occur can be on a near-daily basis. Although great fun, you can be over-exerting your body. After a while, it’ll leave you ill and run down, so missing out on other opportunities down the line. It can also have serious repercussions on your mental health, which triggers other issues when travelling.

So do you mind and body a favour and make sure you’re giving it enough time to recuperate between sessions. 



7 – Drink your water

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If you struggle to get your 2 litres+ water intake when you’re at home, then you’ll certainly want to watch your water intake levels when away.

If you’re somewhere much warmer, you’ll be sweating and exerting more energy, meaning it’s critical to keep those fluid levels up (and not with cocktails or beers). You can do serious damage without it and you’re opening yourself to things such as serious heatstroke and dehydration. Our bodies are predominantly made up of water, so keep it that way.

Always have a refillable bottle with you and work out how many of them you need to hit your daily goal.



8 – Check your diet

I’m not talking that New Years Resolution diet you made, but the healthy and balanced one we should all maintain.

It often goes out the window when we’re travelling, but a lack of correct nutrients, vitamins and minerals can lead us to be short on energy and getting ill. To avoid all those issues on the road, try and make sure you’re getting the basics in.

Think of your fruit and vegetables, fibre, enough water and so on to even out those cheat meals you’ll be having.



9 – Meditate

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Although you may not believe it’s for everyone, meditation is the complete opposite.

It’s the one self-development and mindfulness tool which is available to everyone and you don’t need to be an expert to get into it. Find yourself a relaxed area to chill and attempt the practice. For those new to meditation, there are free lessons on Youtube, or you can try meditation apps such as Calm, which have simple, guided meditations to show you the ropes.

The science behind meditation is well known, so give it a shot in increasing your mindfulness and wellbeing when travelling.



10 – Take opportunities

Some of the best moments when travelling come through unexpected experiences.

By all means, safety comes first and that should be at the forefront of your mind. But if opportunities arise amongst people you trust, then check them out. You may visit places that leave a lasting impression on your trip, or you may meet someone who could be profoundly influential in your life.

Some of the best destinations arise when you go off track.



11 – Be in the moment

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It’s easy to allow yourself to get swept up in the winds of travelling, with it being over before you know it.

You’ll replace the tedious wait to leave with a whirlwind of experience and emotion, leaving you back at home and awaiting your next trip. Yet, thinking back, there’s so much time in each day, how does it go so fast? If you take time to reassess your day, what you enjoyed and things you’re grateful for, it will sink in deeper than ever before. This is the perfect opportunity to keep a journal, where you can solidify those fleeting moments through pen and paper. Even in the exact moment that you’re having the time of your life, breathe it in and accept the moment for what it is.

Get that mental snapshot, as those are the ones that will far outlive anything else.



12 – Do what you love (treat yourself)

What is it you’d love to do? Get your haircut? Go for a spa day? Then, why not?

Don’t think because you’re away you can’t treat yourself. Having a bit of a pamper session can do wonders for your self-esteem, confidence and general happiness.

Take some time out to slow down and do what you want.



13. – Find a hobby

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Even when you’re away, find time to take part in a hobby.

It has proven benefits to your mental health and is important to stay healthy, well and creative. The beauty of it is that everyone has different hobbies, so whether you enjoy colouring or rock climbing, there’ll be a way to please it. Get onto Google and check out what’s in your current area and be sure to take advantage of anything that takes your fancy. If you don’t have anything in particular, use this time to try something new. Groupon is always a fun idea, as you’ll find cheap deals on all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas.

Who knows, you may even stumble across something you take back home with you.



14 – Make time for adventures

At heart, we’re all explorers and being in a new area, before untouched by our attention, is a thrill.

Google can tell you so much, but your senses when in-country can guide you so much more. The people you meet will have their own thoughts and as you share with them, new plans and ideas form.

Be open to change and to see new things, as what wasn’t on your itinerary could end up being your favourite destination on the trip.



It’s so important to realise that it’s normal to have down days when travelling.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s what makes the journey even better. You’ll have achieved, overcome and accomplished so much that the good times are that much sweeter.

Looking back, you’ll find those moments are the ones that shaped the rest of your journey into an unforgettable experience with the best people.



As always, these are just tips from each of our author’s own experiences. If you require further help, please contact the relevant organisations who do fantastic work for young adults and are able to provide professional help.


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