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Seven Ways to Ease the Stresses of Solo Travel

Seven Ways to Ease the Stresses of Solo Travel

There are a lot of benefits to traveling alone. You don’t have to accommodate anyone else so you can tailor the trip to your own preferences. Spending quality time with yourself means getting to know yourself better. By challenging your comfort zone, you can develop a stronger sense of resilience. The list goes on.

In spite of these benefits, solo travel is not without its stresses. The very thing that makes solo travel great—being completely on your own—is also what makes it more challenging than traveling with a companion. You alone are responsible for your safety, sanity, and enjoyment during your trip.

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Fortunately, a lot of this stress can be minimized with a few simple strategies. Here’s how to ease the stresses of solo travel so you can focus on the benefits.

Plan in advance.

Preparation is a strong antidote to anxiety, so if you’re traveling solo it’s a good idea not to show up in a new locale without a single plan. Instead, research your destination in advance. Make sure you’re adhering to any visa or passport regulations if you’re traveling abroad, familiarize yourself with the geographic layout of the region, make a list of must-see attractions, and develop a general itinerary before you embark on your trip.

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Pack light.

Lugging around a giant suitcase (or several) is stressful for any traveler, but it’s even more stressful when you have no one to help you lift luggage into overhead bins or haul it down subway stairs. Plus, struggling with too much luggage can draw unwanted attention when you’re traveling in a foreign place. For the sake of your back, your mobility, and your dignity, aim to pack light when you’re traveling alone.

Focus on the first night.

The most stressful part of a trip is typically the arrival. You’re tired from traveling and disoriented from being in a new place. That can make finding accommodations very challenging—especially when you don’t have a companion to help navigate. Make it easier on yourself by booking a hotel for your first night before you arrive. Also aim to arrive before sunset if possible. It’ll be much easier to navigate a new city in daylight than after dark.

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Designate backups.

It can be nerve-wracking to travel alone because you don’t have anyone nearby on whom you can call for help. Nor do you have a companion who can help you navigate unfamiliar places or feel safer on the street. You can relieve these anxieties by designating an emergency contact before you leave for your trip. Ask them to remain responsive while you’re away, and keep their contact info. with you at all times. Every day, text them your general plans for the day so somebody has a sense of your whereabouts in the case of an emergency.

Enlist local help.

When you’re alone in a new city, who better to help you get your bearings than someone who knows the city like the back of their hand? That’s the premise behind the reinvigorated interest in concierge services, which exist at hotels and beyond. For example, City CoPilot in New York City offers a variety of services including luggage storage, airport transportation, and discounts on local tours and attractions. Getting a little help from people in the know can be a godsend when you’re traveling alone.

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Keep your phone charged.

When you’re traveling alone, you’re more likely to rely on your phone than when you’re traveling with companions. You’ll need it to touch base with your emergency contact (see above), look up directions, browse Reddit if you feel awkward eating dinner alone, and so on. It’s imperative to make sure you won’t run into any data caps before you leave and that you keep your phone charged during the entirety of your trip.

Bring entertainment.

At first being alone with your thoughts can feel like a sumptuous escape from the daily grind, but the longer a solo trip drags on, the more you risk starting to feel bored. It’s good to be prepared with entertainment in the event that boredom kicks in. Bring along a book or journal, download podcasts or movies to your phone or tablet, or invest in Sudoku books or other brain challengers. These will definitely come in handy on long flights or train rides or during quiet nights in a hotel.

No matter where in the world you’re traveling, these seven strategies will help you minimize the stresses of solo travel. You can focus on having the time of your life!

More by this author

Dan Scalco

Director of Marketing

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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