• Donna

6 Essential Habits for Long-term Travelers

How we stay healthy, inspired, and centered during our journeys.

Meditation in jungle of Karnataka, Western Ghats, India

After spending many moons on the road, we've realized that in order to maintain even a small semblance of physical and mental well-being, we have to follow certain habits every day. Of course, the specifics may be different for each person, but the general idea is the same. Take care of yourself, so you can best appreciate life's adventures when they arise.

We've outlined 6 habits for you to practice that, when done consistently, will keep you sane even when your life is a little bit crazy.

Physical Activity

Vacation mindset would be, “I’m on vacation, I’ll work out when I get home!” For the long-term traveler, ‘home’ isn’t happening anytime soon. Getting your blood pumping and your heart-rate zooming at least a few times a week will keep you feeling energized and keen to explore the world.

Although it’s not always the most appetizing to work out in a hostel or in the streets of a large smoggy city: use it or lose it, as the saying goes. Almost all of the guesthouses/hostels we have stayed at have a rooftop - the perfect place for a morning work-out. Our current favorite thing to do is 10 minutes of sun salutations followed by this routine:

Quickie Travel Workout

  • 20 normal push-ups (40 if you’re Franklin)

  • 120 ‘jump rope jumps’ (20 on both feet, 20 on left foot, 20 on right foot -- x2)

  • 20 slow mountain climbers emphasizing the sides

  • 10 burpees

  • 10 squats

Repeat 3-5 times.

Of course if you are in a less hectic place, and have access to a park/beach/nature reserve, jogging is a great way to get the blood pumping. We always find that it’s easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle in small towns on the border of nature, so these are the kinds of destinations we strive to spend the most time in.

Trip Documentation

A lot is happening to you, how in the world do you remember it all? If you aren’t into writing in a journal or blog, you could keep a well-captioned photo log, video archive, or diary of doodles representing your experiences. If you choose the last, remember to date and location ID those doodles!

Self Care

Wash your clothes regularly! Nothing is worse for morale than wearing your underwear inside out because you’ve already gone through all your bikini bottoms. All you need to keep your clothes clean is a bucket, which most hostels and guesthouses have (even a plastic bag will do) water, and soap of some sort. You could use ‘laundry detergent’ or just a bar of good old soap.

Your bucket laundry machine routine:

  1. Pre-soak - clothes, soap, and water (hot if you have it!) sit together in bucket for 10-30 minutes (the longer, the better)

  2. Pulverize Cycle - During this cycle, you get to punch the crap out of your frocks, swish them around, rub them together - just manifest your inner washing machine and try to mimic its movements.

3. Pour out the dirty water and twist out the soap and water from each of your frocks. If you have a clean floor (and clean feet) you can squish the water out using your body weight.

4. Post-soak - slop the wet frocks back in the bucket with fresh water and try to beat out any remaining soap.

5. Twist out any excess water and hang up to dry.

You can even make your own soap if you are tired of using harsh chemicals.

Other important forms of self care include showering, keeping well-organized luggage, regularly parting with unused items, and mending broken items.

Meditation/Shhhhh Mind

Since traveling can be so hectic and you might always feel like you are going going going, it’s important to slow down and remember to breathe.

If you aren't into meditation, don't worry, there are many ways of forcing your mind to shhhhhh. You don’t need to be sitting guru-style in front of a deity for 4 hours a day to achieve a calm and quiet mind (although that method can be effective). There are other activities you can do where you simply aim to be in the peaceful present and remain aware and amused at whatever thoughts pop into your head.

Some Shhhhh Mind activities

  • Lying in bed listening to music and counting your breath

  • People/nature watching somewhere peaceful, like a park, rooftop, riverbank, etc.

Woman sits on rooftop and looks out over the city.

  • Walking while remaining aware each step

  • Moving to the sounds of music

Man dances to music with earbuds.

My favorite Shhhhh Mind activity is sitting on the beach where the whitewash washes over my legs, just enough to submerge my belly-button. I try my best to remain in the same place without letting the force of the waves move me.


It’s important to research the places you're going--there is nothing worse than leaving a destination and meeting someone who says “Omg, you were just there?! Did you see such-and-such amazing thing??” And you go, “Oh, I didn’t know about that amazing thing….” Waa waaa waaaa. A little bit of research goes a long way for your mind to feel like it’s getting the most of your travels.

Likewise, a little bit of exploration goes a long way for your soul to feel like it’s getting the most out of it’s travels. Set aside some of your day for aimless wandering. You never know what synchronicities will pop up. And remember it’s vital to be flexible. Perhaps you’ve got a super popular attraction on your agenda, but you meet a trustworthy local who wants to show you their favorite thing about their city. This is the kind of opportunity traveling is all about! Move your schedule around and get at it!

Call Loved Ones

Sure, messaging is great. But we live in the digital age, and hearing the voice of a loved one is so much more powerful than reading their words.

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