Traveling is, at its most basic level, an opportunity to discover yourself. Yet many of us are often tempted to stick with what we know, and find ourselves longing for the comforts of home—especially when language barriers and cultural differences present themselves. After all, humans are creatures of habit, and when we’re forced to break our routines, we can feel out of sorts.
But if given the chance, the unfamiliar customs we encounter can be a source of growth; when navigated intentionally, they can lead to greater connection and understanding.
To help you adjust to your new surroundings, we’ve developed a list of questions and exercises that encourage you to assess your existing routines. Jot your answers down in a notebook and use this uninterrupted time to remind yourself of why you’re leaving, what your expectations are going forward, and how you might evolve throughout your journey.
photo by Adam Dore
"Traveling is, at its most basic level, an opportunity to discover yourself."
photo by Freddy Castro
Quick warm-up exercises:
1. Recap the last month of your life in point form, making notes of how you spend your time alone and with others.
2. What patterns do you see? Are there any regular occurrences (daily or weekly) in your schedule or routine?
3. What is one thing you’re looking forward to understanding or uncovering about your destination?
photo by Curate Labs & Magazine / @curatelabsmag
"...the unfamiliar traditions, conventions, and customs we encounter can be a source of growth; when navigated intentionally, they can lead to greater connection and understanding."
photo by Hannah Olinger / @han_o_photo
photo by Roberto Nickson / @rpnickson
The customs deep-dive:
- What do you love most about the place you call home? List three of your traditions or routines (daily customs or practices) that currently hold the most meaning.
- Consider why you partake in these traditions and routines. Do they make you feel invigorated, relaxed, productive, etc? Why?
- Circle the things on your list that you would like to maintain while traveling, and think about how you might be able to do so (e.g. if you love spending time with family, you can video chat; if you love your spin studio, you can find a bike route at your next destination).
- Are there nuances of your everyday customs or interactions that frustrate you? Make a list of how you can leave these things behind, or make peace with them.
- Referring to your point-form story (see above warm-up exercises), record how this event has helped shape you into the person you are today. What did this experience teach you about your personal characteristics and habits?
- Within the first 30 minutes of being awake every day in a new place, what can you do to make yourself feel at home or excited to try something new?
- List five feelings you would like to return home with or carry with you to your next destination. What can you do to preserve these feelings?
- Of all the places you’ve traveled, what customs or routines in other cultures have surprised you the most? Are there any you wish you could incorporate into your own day-to-day?
- What has been consistent or common across all of your travels? List these universal customs that defy geographical or cultural borders.
- Create three simple 15-minute routines that you can incorporate into your day in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Leave room for a five-minute custom that you’ve picked up from a new place; it can be a way of preparing coffee, or a song you listen to before bed. Once you know what it is, add these customs to your routines.
Stephanie Arant’s Morning Routine
For the #LojelCollective’s Stephanie Arant, a recent trip to Hawaii inspired a brand new morning routine—follow her mindful approach to getting things done.
- Wake up and create a mental to-do list. Being intentional about my day means I’m more likely to follow through on goals and feel less stressed.
- Wash my face. This not only makes me feel more awake, but also helps me to start the day with a clean slate.
- Brew the perfect French press coffee. There’s something about making a cup of coffee—grinding the beans, smelling the rich aroma, sipping from my favorite ceramic mug—that makes me extremely happy.
- Take a moment to appreciate the little things. I really dove into this part of my routine while I was in Hawaii. For 20 to 60 minutes each morning, I would sit outside on the patio, sip my coffee, and watch the waves crash on the beach. It’s here that I realized how important it is to slow down and take in your surroundings before continuing on with your day.
- Get dressed. Finding an outfit based on my plans for the day and how I’m feeling is something I genuinely love being challenged with every single day.
Routines aren’t meant to be static—and picking up a new habit while abroad is often better than any souvenir you might bring home with you. Follow Lojel on Instagram and Facebook to share the routines and customs you’ve acquired on your journeys.
Written by Kim Budziak