Travel wears us out after a while. It happens to Peace Corps volunteers and international business people, backpackers and expatriates. But when travel is your chosen path, how do we tend to abrasions, reduce the bruises, set the broken bones? We have a few tricks, a few items in our first-aid kit to expedite the healing process and get us back on our journeys. Here are some I’ve gleaned over four years of serial expatriation.
Band-Aid bandages: Daily yoga. Even if just for five minutes, do some basic yoga a few times weekly. This helps stretch out your back from those non-Western beds comfortable as sleeping on a sheet of plywood. A simple down dog soothes stress and pressure built up from breaking through language and cultural barriers.
Eye patch: Get out of town. Seem counter-intuitive? A day-trip or weekend away rejuvenates. Not doing this while living in Shenzhen, China, literally caused my deportation. I’ve learned my lesson and now plan at least a day away each month from Piura, Peru. Go see something else the pandemonium of your surroundings.
Tensor bandage: Cook. Make yourself some comfort food from home or try a recipe from the local cuisine. Yes, ingredients for your favorites from home may be more expensive, but it’s less than psychotherapy. From buying the ingredients, to preparing the meal, and then enjoying it are moments of calm, comfort, and sensory sensation. Plus, it’s a terrific excuse to call over some friends, share a meal and get drunk.
Gauze bandage: Go to a tourist trap. This is a good place for you to both laugh at and relate to the locals and other foreigners. But in the end you’ll be reminded of why you’re there. Plus if you’re one of those travelers who eschews touristy places, you’ll at least be able to answer questions about it for loved ones back home.
Tape: Assimilation is exhausting. In some circumstances of life abroad, you’re relegated to clothing you’d never glance twice at in your own country. Forgo it. Wear a revealing shirt, holey Gap jeans, and stilettos (or whatever makes you comfortable). Emphasizing your foreignness relieves as much as biting on heavy plastic for a toothache.
Toilet paper: In a pinch? For a momentary escape, my favorite is to simply slip on my headphones, crank on some American rock n’ roll, and sing aloud. It usually freaks people out just enough to steer clear of you.
How do you heal your traveler’s ailments?