It’s so easy to get back into the same ol’ routines when returning home from vacation. For some reason we can’t wait to unpack, start a load of laundry, stop at the grocery store…does this sound familiar? Yet in reality what we really need is a vacation from our vacation. This is especially true when travelling across different time zones. Imagine giving yourself time to unwind, re-group, take in and reminisce about your trip.
So this time I did just that! After spending six weeks abroad and nine time zones away I decided to “screw the laundry” and take a vacation from my vacation and I suggest you do too!
No doubt you have traveled a bit as well, had some new experiences and met some cool people. You have probably had to finagle through language issues, getting lost, eating new food, the list goes on. So you deserve a break, don’t you think?
After deciding to make a life a change and move to Europe, the trek back to America to see my family is part of life which means jet lag is as well. The trek takes me on buses and taxis, trains to planes and with the added security the lines just getting out of the country is time consuming and exhausting.
Travel, in my opinion, is the best value for the money and needs a celebratory ending. This is why this time I decided to do something different! I decided to “screw the laundry” and take a vacation from my vacation. After a short stop at our home in Warsaw, Poland to drop of the suitcase, get a fresh change of clothes and throw pajamas, sneakers and clean underwear in a bag we (my husband and I) drove two and half hours north into the forest to a small village called Olsztyn.
Olsztyn is home to a retreat center organized by the Catholic Diocese called Swieta Puszcza. For me, going to a retreat center in a foreign country is one of my favorite things to do. I have been to retreat centers throughout Italy and Poland and each time I come back more grounded, centered and energized by what lay before me. Retreat centers (at least the ones I go to) are no frills, no cappuccino machine, no tv, no familiar anything places that are just filled with quiet in beautiful surroundings.
At a retreat center I don’t have to think about anything and is generally exactly what you are supposed to do. Nothing. Just reflection and breathing fresh air. As far as communicating…very little is all I can say. When we (my husband and I) wander off to a retreat I am most often the only English speaking person. Most people would have an anxiety attack knowing this yet for me, I feel nothing but relaxation knowing that I do not have to be part of any conversation. I can just focus on me. Self-care the new buzz word for women!
Taking care of you is important yet for most women this doesn’t exist. As the nurturers we are on the lookout for anyone that needs us. Always ready to comfort and console. Making all those around feel comfortable, warm and welcomed. But what about us? We too need time to catch up, to recharge, to reflect.
So here are some tips that might help your travel and trip home more pleasurable even if you can’t escape to a retreat center in the woods.
- begin your trip well rested. This sounds like an oxymoron to me yet making sure you get a good nights sleep before departing will make all the difference in the world.
- consider taking melatonin – a natural supplement that manipulates natural hormones in your body to promote relaxation. It is best to begin taking this before bed several days in advance of your flight in small doses. For me however, it gives me nightmares so I opt for chamomile tea and spritzing my pillow with lavender essential oils.
- valerian root is also suggested as it helps in the production of GABA (helps to regulate nerve cells and calm anxiety). Many of my friends swear by this yet, like melatonin, gives me nightmares. So give it a try but in small doses to see how you react.
- nojetlag – a homeopathic remedy which helps to correct the biorhythmic confusion brought on by travelling through time zones. Although the US Government just released a statement saying that homeopathic remedies “do not work” I for one was brought up on them. So US Government or not, I’m taking this. It works for me and that is all I really need to know.
- cocculus indicus – another great homeopathic remedy that induces a feeling of weakness helping you to rest on the plane. Cocculus indicus also helps with motion sickness, of which I have experienced my far share.
- exercise and stretching – it is very important to keep your blood flow moving during long haul flights. So get up! Get out of your seat and get moving. I head for the flight attendant and food prep area to do a few yoga moves then take a stroll up and down the aisles. Tip: make sure to pack some thick socks to keep your feet warm and some roll up slippers to walk around in.
- drink water – and pee! I know you think the bathroom is gross but get over it. If it will make you feel any better, pack some baby wipes to use on the toilet seat but go pee. Keep the fluids moving this will also help with leg and ankle swelling.
- comfort aids such as ear plugs, blindfolds and neck pillows. Make sure to leave room in your carry on for these essentials.
- eat light – your body is going through some changes so go easy on it. By eating small meals and snacks it will give your system time to catch up with where your actual body is. Just like you, the less it has to do the better.
- stay away from alcohol – yup it’s true. I don’t like saying it and certainly don’t like doing it but alcohol dehydrates and that is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing.
Jet lag is real thing. Crossing time zones messes with the circadian rhythms of the body leaving you out of sync with the local destination time. It will generally take you one day per time zone to readjust. So cut your self some slack in arriving back home, screw the laundry!
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” My wish for you is to be wealthy by seeing the world, to break down barriers of judgement and become one with others, and to offer your gifts to the world by providing small deeds in great ways.
Travel far and wide my friends.