Dear Fellow Traveler Through Life,
As you may or may not know, I am currently living a phase of my life that could be characterised as: “woman-running-wild”, or in other words: “living on the road”.
Currently on a three month adventure through the United States, I hopped on a plane from my native land of Finland to here, after living on the road - out of my car - for the five months previous.
As someone whom could be easily be called “sensitive” or even “highly sensitive” by my biological make-up and wise-as-wise body, there is much that I have considered and set in place in my mobile life to make this kind of living possible for myself. A close friend pointed out that all of this might be interesting to someone else too. What a thought!
So here we are, thoughts on Solo Traveling For the Soft at Heart (part 1 of -of most likely many :)
The Code word for this post is “Know”. So of course (of course!), it must come with a small playlist with great songs with the word “know” in their title.
You can find that list here.
Know what you need (to stay human)
Before setting out on my trip to the USA for three months, I travelled inside my native country for five. I learnt the food I can always have with me (and/or get at almost any supermarket) that I can eat, survive on and not feel sick with (I am sensitive stomach and body with plenty stuff that won't work with me, so figuring out this piece was a good, solid, useful one).
I looked into ways I can keep and make a movement part of my day even when I am not near a gym or my other trusted venues of physicality.
I figured out how I could sleep - literally - almost anywhere.
I created routines for the beginning and end of my day that help me ground myself wherever I am.
I even went through my full wardrobe to figure out the kind of clothes that I feel most myself: beautiful, easeful and comfortable in, so that I could travel with nothing extra. (I am travelling for three months with just my carry-on suitcase + a guitar - for those interested, a packing post may be somewhere in the future). I gave my adventures a purpose I could keep coming back to on the road - amidst all the adventure.
(That being to grow and to work as a writer and songwriter, wherever I am.
My work is a huge part of how I stay grounded, how I stay myself.)
Before dis-attaching your spaceship from familiar ground:
Know what you need, know the preliminaries of what you need to thrive,
and then figure out how you can help yourself carry these with you.
Know what it is you are travelling _for_.
This is the best insurance against all kinds of travel disorientation related crazyness that I have I have come to know.
Know that you do not have to see everything
In fact, here is a fact: You will not see everything.
This is golden. This is good.
We as human beings are limited things.
We can hold and receive a lot, but everything - that is much.
They are golden.
The longer your trip is, the less it may be necessary to think of it as "traveling", and more simply: "living, on the road". There are things on the road that will take you down.
One of them is forgetting to drink water. Or wear sunscreen in California.
And another one is that infamous Fear-Of-Missing-Out.
Needing to see everything and all at once - because oh my goodness when will you have the chance if not now! - Is deadly for the sensitive soul. Unless you are a ball of extroverted unlimited energy. Which you might be. I am not.
Let yourself use your days in the ways that matter to you. Make you days matter. To you.
A trip is not a performance. You do not need to hit all the spots.
Let your heart do the planning. Dance like no one is watching.
Create routines that will travel with you
I used to have the hardest time falling asleep of anyone I knew. After 7 months of living on the road (and a fair bit of on-the-roading before that) I can pretty much sleep _anywhere_. I have a daily sleep routine that I do every night, no matter where I am. It is idiot simple.
I spray on Magnesium spray for my restless feet.
I spritz myself with Sweet Dreams-mist from Findhorn Flower Essences (not saying this will be a miracle cure for everyone, but, I found it, happened to love it, and now I've conditioned myself to believe in it in such a way that I could not tell you weather the mist works or if I'm just devoted).
Then step three: and this is the really magical one:
I put on earplugs.
You would think that the funky flower essence "Sweet Dreams" -mist would be the magical step, but no. It's the earplugs. Trust me. Also golden - woollen socks if you are cold feeter like I.
Then. Think happy thoughts. And I'm out.
On times when my brain _just_won't_ shut down, I've found a very silly trick that works (again, for me): I will put on and audiobook with the sleep-timer on my listening app on. (I listen to a lot of not-so-deep, not-at-all-much-spriritual or widely intellectual audiobooks. Books about women in their 30's falling in love. Books about women in their 30's beginning a new life and falling in love. You knows the type.) Just as long as the book isn't too riveting or at all violent and scary, I will have that gentle blah-blah-in the background, and that will distract my mind enough to shut it just enough to fall asleep.
I mention sleep as the first one under routines, as sleep, in my experience, is the wheel that when unhinged, has the potential to throw off both the girl and the cart and the horse too.
Best tip for pre-trip preparation: figure out what you need to get a good nights sleep.
Then break this apart to something you can take WITH you. Whatever the best possible sleep scenario looks like for you right now, perhaps your own bedroom with fresh lavender blossoms and impermeable to light blinds, with the same blanket you have slept with since you were 18 and your boyfriends dog at your feet - break this down to the actual physical sensations
(darkness, scent of lavender, warmth) and feelings (safety, calm, coziness) and then use your incredibly ingenious and creative mind to re-create these sensations in travel size.
From the explanation above, you might see that my absolutely necessary needs for sleep are warmth (the woollen socks), quiet (ear-plugs) as well as a sense of ritual and safe transitions to soothe me into sleep time (sleep spray, magnesium, audiobooks, happy thoughts).
Know that you will have off-days (take days off)
When you are into moving about for the long haul, rest assured that there will be days you will feel less than in love with this life you have chosen. And love.
Like any life choice, relationship, endeavour - there will be days that don't feel oh-so wonderful. There will be days when you feel tired, sick, worn-down, out of it, ready to go home (except- where is home again?).
There will be days when you will think "what the heck am I doing here?”.
Then the power will go out in your hotel/airbnb/guest-room of whoever's couch you are surfing, and you'll mutter "what the heck am I doing here?".
Then you will hit your toe on that elevated doorstep that you have no way of remembering is there as you are just there for your first night and you will scream out in frustration:
"What the heck am I doing here???".
It will, most likely, pretty much all happen.
But do not despair. This is why, hopefully, you have given yourself time.
This is why, most hopefully, you shall remember, that you do not need to see everything. Even while adventuring and traveling your ass-off, you will still have Mondays. And this is all alright. Give yourself a sick-day with Nexflix and gaze out of your hotel windows at this strange and new vista of a place you are surrounded by, Stay in bed. Spend the day doing your bookkeeping at the corner of the cafe three minutes from your airbn. Eat in. Lay low, take rest, and let yourself re-emerge as the fearless traveler that you are, in your own_sweet_time.