The Self-Care Benefits of Travel: How to Prep, Pack, and Make the Most of Your Vacation
By Shelby Deering
We’ve partnered with our friends over at the Dollar Flight Club to help you make the most of your summer or winter vacation.
When the going gets tough, it can be wise for you to get going—to a warm, sunny vacation destination that is. When you need a lift in mood or if you ever experience seasonal depression like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), travel can be an outstanding option for enhancing mood and energy naturally. Traveling can allow you to hit the pause button on your busy life, provide enlightening experiences, and give you a sunshine boost—plus the many benefits that come with it.
In fact, even the act of just planning and anticipating a trip can lead to improved mood, according to a 2014 Cornell University study. That’s reason enough to start planning now whether you want to take a trip six days from now or even six months from now.
To get a quick start on this mood-enhancing activity, here are ideas to make the most of your planning, packing, and vacation.
Choose a Sunny Destination
There are plenty of choices for warm, sunny locales—an island getaway, a beach resort, a Caribbean cruise, or anywhere down South. The world has near-limitless possibilities for your uplifting vacation.
Here’s an easy way to narrow it down—shop for a deal and choose a place that not only fits the stuff of your daydreams, but your airfare budget as well. Dollar Flight Club is a service that will alert you when economical international airfare becomes available from your home airport—potentially saving you hundreds on your travels. The average savings per a ticket is over $500, which will leave you with quite a bit of extra cash to plan more adventures with.
Prioritize Self Care as Part of Your Vacation
If your goal is to experience an improvement in your mood while traveling, there are things you can do to help set you on the fast track to rest and relaxation.
1. Pick your travel buddy carefully. Sometimes our nearest and dearest don’t always make the best travel companions. When planning your trip, be honest with yourself about your goals for the trip and choose to travel with someone who will be most compatible with your travel style.
2. Listen to your gut. If an afternoon spent in a hammock sounds more appealing than a snorkeling trip that everyone else is going on, then listen to your mind and body and stick to the hammock. This isn’t a time to let FOMO influence your decisions since almost all activities on vacation are rewarding in their own way.
3. Beat jet lag before you get on the plane. Using a HappyLight® Therapy Lamp can be a great help to those traveling across time zones. If you’re traveling east, use your HappyLight® before you leave at a time that would be morning in your destination’s time zone to help your body adjust to the earlier sunrise. Traveling west? In this case, use your light therapy lamp at a time that would be evening in your destination’s time zone to give your body extra energy for the afternoons.
4. Soak up the sun. If you’re sensitive to light and notice that sunshine significantly enhances your mood, try to get out in the sun as much as you can during your vacation. A trip to a warm, sunny place is the best time to recharge yourself with catching some Vitamin D-filled rays. Be sure to wear sunscreen, and reapply often!
Pack Well-Being Essentials
Your outlook will improve even more if you are conscientious about the items you pack rather than rushing to pack your bags and tossing in items willy-nilly. Ideally, you’ll want to bring a mix of practical items and self-care soothers like:
1. Essential oils: Lavender for sleep and serenity, peppermint to reinvigorate your energy
2. An eye mask, ear plugs & travel pillow: Get some shut-eye on the plane so you can combat jet lag and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed
3. Healthy snacks: Start your trip off right by bringing healthy snacks for the plane rather than indulging in often unhealthy (and expensive!) airport food
4. A favorite book: Nothing makes the slower parts of vacation (the flight, waiting in lines, etc.) fly by faster than reading a good book. Keep a favorite on hand for when you need a little escape from the logistics of traveling.
5. A travel-friendly HappyLight® Therapy Lamp, like the HappyLight Lucent, the newest and smallest light therapy lamp that delivers 10,000 lux of mood-boosting light. Its sleek design fits easily into small spaces, it packs flat, and it has a detachable stand so you can set it up anywhere.
Whether you’re planning a summer vacation that’s right around the corner or daydreaming of your next big trip a few months down the road, we hope these travel tips will help keep you flying high.
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I didn’t realize my mood was effected as the days got darker - it was my husband Scott who mentioned Winter Blues to me. At first, I was insulted that he thought I was that bad and then denial totally kicked in, thinking you’re insane that’s not me. I didn’t realize how much my mood would shift and the miserable mama I would be. Once he mentioned it to me, I started paying closer attention and doing some research and I realized he was right.