Travel takes a lot of forms. Maybe you’re hiking through the backcountry. Maybe you’re backpacking through Europe. Maybe you’re on a cross-country road trip in an RV—or even just camping in a car.
Whatever you’re doing, wherever you go, bringing a little piece of home with you can make the trip more enjoyable. Here are some pointers on making your travels a little cozier.
Bring a Photo or Two
Is there a picture on your nightstand that you see every night before you turn in? Put it in a photo envelope and bring it—or a smaller copy of it—along with you. It may seem basic, but sometimes the things that matter most are. Whatever friends, family, or loved ones are the last thing you see before you go to bed at home, take them with you on the road. It’s not just the reminder of the people you care about that helps—it’s the familiarity of having a piece of home along with you.
Bring A Scent Along
Research indicates that none of the senses are tied to memory as closely as smell is. Do you have a favorite scented candle or oil diffuser that you use at home? Take it with you! You can power your oil diffuser with a USB adaptor or portable charger, and you can transfer scented candles from glass containers into something sturdier to make them easier to transport.
Keep the Electricity Flowing
Most people don’t hit the road just so they can bring the stresses of home with them. It makes sense—you want to unplug from daily life. But at the same time, your phone can mean a lot to you. It’s a lifeline to the people you care about. You can call for help or use GPS navigation in an emergency, and even if you don’t have a signal, it can still give you a flashlight and a map. You may even want to fire up a video or two before bed, if you’re waiting on a plane or a train.
Having a good portable phone charger (or even a portable solar charger) can make a big difference. Even if you aren’t the kind of person who’s glued to your phone—or if you’re trying to be less of one—knowing that you do have power if you need it can be a huge comfort.
Stay in Shape with Exercise
There are lots of ways to rough it, and some make working out easier than others. If you’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, you’re probably all set for a workout.
On the other hand, if you’re hitting the road in a car or camper van, you may find it hard to stay in shape. After a while, not moving around can take an emotional toll as well as a physical one.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hard to get a little workout in. Throw a few good resistance bands and a jump rope into your vehicle before your set out. Resistance bands are a great alternative to weights when you don’t have a lot of carrying capacity, and a jump rope can help you get a surprisingly solid cardio workout if you don’t have a hiking trail nearby.
Cook Nutritious Food
One of the best things you can do for yourself—at home or out and about—is cook. Cooking definitely takes some time, but the benefits are well worth it. There’s the advantage of knowing exactly what you’re putting into your body, instead of just wondering. You get to dictate how healthy the foods you cook are. There’s the feeling of accomplishment from turning a pile of random junk into sustenance for your body (and the body of anyone else you cook for). Even the act of cooking itself can be meditative. It’s a chance to focus on one task, and after you know what you’re doing, executing those tasks can be a relaxing way to get into a flow mindset and tune out the world.
You don’t have to miss out on cooking (or on eating satisfying, nutritious food) just because you’re on the road. There’s more to camp food than MREs and granola bars. There’s more to highway food than endless burgers. A good single-burner stove is a great way to prepare food (and purify water, and make coffee) when you don’t have access to a full kitchen. And with a little planning, it’s easy to put together “just add water” meals that are ready to go with the addition of a little boiling water. Partially-cooked ingredients like instant ramen and minute rice make a great base for a filling meal, and freeze-dried meats and vegetables are a great way to add flavor and nutrition. Add in sauces made from powdered ingredients (or sauce packets you bring from home) and it’s not hard to put together a whole meal that you can cook quickly and easily from the road.
Studies show that most people lose more sleep than they realize when they travel. Even if you’re aware that you’re not catching all of your z’s, you may not know how much you’re missing, or how much that’s affecting you. Having comfortable sleep gear can make a huge difference. If you’re camping, that means a warm, soft sleeping bag that’s rated for the temperature you’ll be sleeping in. If you’re indoors, it may mean a white noise app to help you fall asleep surrounded by familiar sounds.
You can’t recreate your whole at-home experience when you travel. Odds are you don’t want to—that’s not the reason people go places. But with a little ingenuity and some appropriate gear, it’s not hard to bring some of the comforts of home with you, wherever you go.
Your body has basic needs. You need sleep. You need fuel for the journey. And no matter how much you love to explore, part of you needs familiarity, too. Some of the needs discussed here are more obvious than others. But addressing all of them can help you have a fun, safe, restorative journey, wherever that journey may take you.