When I travel my life is usually very hectic. I've only ever had one beach holiday in my whole life, and that was just a few days in the middle of a filming trip for work and a safari. Usually you can find me rushing around trying to see, eat, and learn everything in a new country all at once. I’m constantly getting lost and confused, trying to balance a budget and split my time between a million different things, staying up late and waking up early, walking countless hours every day… It’s a lot to juggle. But the funny thing is that I never feel so much at peace with myself than when I’m traveling, and trying to do all these things at once.
When I was in Japan and we were pushing ourselves hard to see and do all we could in two weeks, I spent some time every day thinking about what I don’t do while I’m away that I do when I’m home. As in, what do I cut out of my life when I’m traveling that causes me stress when I’m at home in London, working nine to five. I mean, my job is an obvious unavoidable stress, we all need to work. Bills, doctors’ appointments, family responsibilities – these are all unavoidable. But maybe there are some things that I can cut out, to keep that holiday feeling going a little longer, or even incorporate that freedom that comes with travel into my life permanently!
To try and do just that, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts I’ve set myself since coming back from Japan:
DON’T make appointments, social or otherwise. Unless it can be avoided or you really want to, it’s ok to spend five nights a week at home having some alone time and reading a magazine or a book. When I’m away sometimes I have to stay in at night and not go out for dinner or to a bar, if I didn't I would blow through my budget in a few days. Somehow when I’m in London I do manage to blow through my weekly budget within a few days, so I think the same principles apply.
DO walk more. London is a pretty big city, but it’s easier to walk places than you would think! I remember when I first discovered you could walk from Oxford Circus to Covent Garden and even the South Bank in a relatively short amount of time, my mind was blown! I definitely couldn't walk home from the office, but I could probably walk about halfway there. This would save me money and give me a bit more exercise, and constant exercise is what keeps my mood elevated when I’m traveling, I’m pretty sure.
DON’T try to keep up with social media. I somehow have this need to read ALL THE NEWS ALL THE TIME. It’s mental and completely unachievable. I think the need to be on top of all the exciting new developments on twitter/Instagram/bloglovin is addictive, and when I’m away I don’t have wifi or data on the move so I end up checking up on my feeds only once or twice a day. And the funny thing is, the less I could keep up with what was going on, the less I wanted to. Now that I’m back in London I’ve kept that up, I’m trying never to use my data and only check what’s going on in the digital world about once a day, if that.
DO have designated admin times. While I’m away I’m too busy having a good time to do stuff like, I don’t know, organise a wedding that’s coming up in about four months (eeep!). But life doesn't stop just because you’re on holiday, so similar to the social media thing I have delegated my admin to the times where I have wifi available to send emails. I’m way more productive if I have it clear in my head what I want to achieve and I just sit down and do it. If I try to organise my life a little here and a little there, it seems like an overwhelming task. By just doing what I needed to get done in one go, I got more wedmin done in Japan than I did in the whole month leading up to the trip!
DON’T listen to music. Ok this is an odd one, but I am always listening to music whenever I go anywhere, especially on my morning commute, and this is something I cut out completely when I travel. I think deleting my Spotify account has contributed a lot to cutting out mood swings and keeping me happy. When I listen to music I cut out the rest of the world, I stop living in the world and start living in my head. I don’t notice people, sounds, the weather – I’m all internal and that isn't so great for me. I also daydream A LOT when I listen to music, and while that makes me temporarily happy, it kind of makes me sad that I’m dreaming about living life and not actually doing it. So it may not work for everyone, but cutting out music is an important one for me.
DO be ruthless with what you own. I packed a suitcase full of clothes for Japan and only ended up wearing two thirds of them. A few dresses I wore and I noticed that I was really uncomfortable in them – I didn't really feel like me and I felt really silly. When I got home I had a good look at when I chose to wear while I was away and decided to chuck the things I didn't like or didn't even take out of my suitcase. After that, I attacked my closet and chucked out all the clothes I didn't wear, including the ones that were expensive or that I had a sentimental attachment too but hadn't worn in years. There’s such a sense of freedom that comes from cutting out decisions to me made or problems to worry over. I would rather have a few clothes that I really loved and wear to death every day than stand in front of a closet packed with options feeling like I have nothing to wear.
I hope you find some of these things helpful too. Incorporating habits like these into your life when you've been doing things differently for years is not easy, but it's worth a shot - and if you're patient with yourself they may just stick! That's what I'm hoping, anyway.