It’s the third week of your trip and you’re starting to miss the creature comforts of home. You can’t stop thinking about your family and friends, and you long for your cushy bed. Top Chef should be DVR’d, and a burrito from Qdoba would really hit the spot. Hmmph. Looks like you’ve scheduled a hike up the nearby volcano through the impenetrable jungle underbrush followed by a tasting of the local arachnid delicacy.
A shadow slowly creeps over your thoughts.
Maybe you should relax. Perhaps it’d be better to hang out at the hostel. You know, read a book. You’re sick and tired of stumbling over every syllable of every word, getting on the wrong buses, and offending fellow diners with your attempts to summon the waiter.
There’s only one thing to do: kill that noise.
This is a moment of reckoning that happens at least once every trip, and there’s no question that you need to crawl out of bed and hit the road. But how do you keep those home-y desires from tainting your attitude as you follow through on your schedule? The worst possible outcome is that some bizarro version of your self stomps through the day arcing negative vibes at any innocent crossing your path and effectively spoiling possible greatness.
Travel – especially solo travel where you don’t have someone to lift you up – is what you make of it. Grudgingly adhering to an itinerary likely will not yield the fondest memories. You will be grumpy and the people you encounter on your journey will pick up on this grumpiness. Yes, I’m talking about “vibes,” that touchy-feely pseudo-scientific thing we emanate. I won’t claim to be an expert on the topic or even knowledgeable among the general populace. However, I do know that personal energy can be palpable and easily interpreted subconsciously. And if you aren’t paying attention to your outlook on each day, you might be hurting your personal sense of enjoyment in the moment and when looking back years later.
The good news is that you have the power to foist off those negative vibes and create positive energy. When you’re feeling down on your luck, homesick, or just worn out, remember these tips:
- Intuit. Take a moment and pay attention to your mindset. Feeling a bit glum? Has the weather got you down? Are you ill or is that just the hangover? The first step is taking the time to understand what you’re feeling. Be honest with yourself.
- Speak your mind. Enunciate what’s bothering you and write it down. The unclassified fear is always larger; somehow, defining it changes your perception and often makes it resolvable. On the flip side, speak out loud everything you’re grateful for. Recall what’s good, like “holy crap! I’m drinking Port on a wine estate in the Douro Valley!!”
- Make yourself smile. Do something guaranteed to get your happy juices up. Love nature? Go for a hike in the countryside. Is food your thing? Descend on the local delicacy. Miss the wife? Hit the payphone and drop her a line. You get the picture. Don’t starve yourself of things you enjoy in the name of some greater, purposeless agenda.
- Stake energy vampires. You know the type: the whiny travel companion, the guy who holes up in the hostel and surfs the internet all day, or the person who will. not. stop. talking. First thing’s first: make sure you’re not one. Chances are, if you’ve been nodding your head reading this post, you might be on the verge. Go ahead and slap yourself, I can’t do it. Energy vampires will suck you dry and leave you a spiritually dessicated raisin. No amount of positivity will satisfy these people; they need to fix themselves. So whether it’s your best bud, the tour guide, or your B&B host that’s metaphorically cramping your (neck) style, hit them with a garlic necklace and peace out.
Be positive and energetic and your trip will be the same. Going on a “mini-retirement” on your own or with someone else takes an incredible amount of willpower. Along the way you’ve broken through a host of fears and fetters that’ve kept you locked in your previous routine. Be proud of yourself, and don’t lose this feeling once you actually start the trip. Those fears are just waiting in the wings to pounce on you in a moment of weakness. Find the strength to put them out of your misery for good.
Has your personal mindset positively or negatively affected your travels? Have you bravely vanquished an energy vampire? Share your thoughts!