I just came from a trip to Mexico. It was a much needed break and I was happy to get away for 2 weeks. An intention I had set for myself this year was to travel to a foreign country. It was amazing how this trip fell into place perfectly!
It happened 2 weeks before I left for Mexico. One of my close friends informed me that a girl wasn’t able to go through with this vacation/volunteer program to Mexico. She encouraged me to submit my application and though I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted, I thought why not give it a chance?
Long Story Short: I was Accepted into the Program!
My close friend and I had been planning to travel for years and this Mexico trip was going to be the one the Universe had decided! I booked my airfare and packed my luggage to head to Mexico.
I am feeling refreshed and recharged and I want to share the nuggets of wisdom I gained from this trip:
Listen to Your Discomfort
I went with a group of four other individuals to Mexico, each chosen from a different country. We traveled, dined, and partied together. In a span of 2 weeks, we visited 6 Mexican cities.
I was definitely thrown off balance at times. The heat, hunger, or simply moving at such a fast pace took its toll on me. I felt tired faster. Also, traveling with complete strangers except for my close friend was exciting but nerve wracking. I felt my belly and chest burn with nervousness and fear.
Going on a vacation has a strong positive connotation and rightly so. But the truth is traveling brings up uncomfortable emotions as well. Remember these uncomfortable emotions are messages for you. It is up to you to listen to them and feel them thoroughly.
I literally talked myself through this uncomfortable emotions and moments. I even let the tears fall sometimes. I didn’t judge myself for feeling this way. Traveling is fun, but for a shy and introverted person like me, it was also difficult to deal with a foreign environment and constantly be surrounded by people.
Get in Touch with Your Body
The schedule was jam-packed with fun activities. I woke up around seven each morning, had a light breakfast, and then headed off to a whirlwind day filled with sightseeing, touring, dining, and partying. It was super fun! I visited museums, art exhibitions, sports arenas, wineries, pool parties, the list is endless. I dined at restaurants and had delicious meals. (My mouth still waters at the memories of the food….)
I am truly grateful for the Mexican people and their generosity in taking us to all these places. They took every tiny need of ours into consideration and made us feel as comfortable as possible.
However, with such a busy schedule and being with groups of people about 18 hours a day, I had little time for myself. I found myself dragging my body throughout the day to the different activities planned.
I realized it was because I needed to be in touch with my body. I needed alone time to relish in my inner presence, so I could be more present throughout the day. Luckily, I had taken my computer, so I incorporated a simple morning routine before I left my host family’s home for the day. I did simple meditations to calm myself and clear my mind.
Remember when you are traveling that your morning routine does not need to be elaborate. Keep it simple since you’re on vacation. Close your eyes and do a body scan. Don’t rush this process and pay close attention to how each part of your body feels – hips, arms, hands, legs, thighs, face, neck, feet, stomach, etc.
Ask yourself how you’re feeling and show love to each part. This will allow you to fall into a deeper connection with yourself and you will feel more supported as you go through your days while traveling.
Be Direct and Kind in Your Expression
Boy, this trip activated all sorts of triggers in me! I realized I don’t function to my optimal if I don’t take the time to drop into a deep inner space before surrounding myself with people. I become cranky and irritated more easily.
Indeed this happened during the trip. I found my inner balance knocked over several times. This also speaks of everyone else in the group, too. Traveling together means we spent most of our time together. We became close and a deep level of intimacy was established. This is one of the beauties of traveling with strangers. Somewhere in the trip, deep friendships and bonds were formed.
However, it also meant we saw all the sides of each other. Kind of like living together with your partner or spouse! You see everything! Not just the good stuff!
I learned that when my needs or desires weren’t being met, I became more withdrawn. I became passive-aggressive. I found myself festering with anger or worry at times. I experienced this even with my close friend and truthfully, it troubled me. I didn’t want to feel this way towards anyone and not especially towards my close friend.
I learned that I needed to be more direct in my expression. I learned to speak openly and freely, but with immense kindness when something bugged me. I didn’t need to be indirect or passive aggressive. I’m not perfect in any way and I’m sure my quirks must have gotten over the others’ heads, too and I learned to own up to my flaws as well.
Take the Time to Slow Down
There is a mystical and fantasy quality to traveling. I literally felt like I was in a fantasy world at times. The days moved by so quickly. Before I could fathom, I was in a new city, adjusting to a new environment and group of people.
It is important to especially take the time to slow down during a vacation. Think about this for a moment. Though I believe that your normal life must be filled with lots of space and freedom, too, the truth is you go on a vacation to relax and slow down.
And sometimes traveling ends up being more chaotic and exhausting. Then, what is the point of vacationing? Make sure you take the time to slow down. It could mean doing a meditative body scan in your hotel room or enjoying a cup of tea at a cafe while gazing at the lush scenery outside.
Strike a Balance
I remember going to restaurants or sightseeing when I wanted nothing more than to revel in my solitude. I didn’t want to open my mouth and talk to anyone. It wasn’t that my company wasn’t enjoyable. My company was perfect and always gracious.
It is just that as a person I enjoy my space as much as socializing. Even at home with my family, I go to my room to enjoy time with myself.
Strike a beautiful balance on your travels. Allocate large chunks of time where you spend it in solitude reading a book or sipping on a glass of wine. This way, when you do spend time with your family, friends, and strangers on vacation, you will be more present.
Nourish Yourself with Good Food and Rest
I didn’t get enough sleep in Mexico. There were nights spent partying, drinking, and swimming merrily. I didn’t get the opportunity to sleep in the next day due to the jam packed schedule. For my next vacation, I would incorporate the time to sleep in more.
From a food perspective, I ate tacos, enchiladas, ravishing desserts, and seafood delicacies. I didn’t have any boundaries when it came to food being the foodie that I am! At one of the houses I stayed at, the host family whipped up fabulous healthy green smoothies! It was a welcome change from the other rich food I was consuming.
Keep yourself nourished by eating full, healthy meals, sleeping eight hours every night, drinking lots of water, enjoying fresh air, etc. You will feel more supported and physically vibrant. This will cause you to naturally feel calmer and peaceful.
Let Go, Party, and Enjoy!
Finally, immerse yourself in the culture or country you find yourself traveling in. Talk to the locals and observe the city, roads, shops, and inhabitants. You will find that ultimately they are no different from you.
I had lots of conversations in Mexico and learned some useful expressions of Spanish. I connected deeply with many and friendships were formed. I danced, swam, and let myself go at pool parties or other events. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I laughed with tears in my eyes.
There is a beauty to immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture. Have insightful conversations. Make jokes. Laugh. Dance. Party. Eat. Drink. Let go! Have the time of your life!
How do you feel when you vacation? Do you feel discomfort at times? Do you feel nourished during your travels? Please share with me in the comments!
Alex Loh says
Sounds like while you were on a journey out to a faraway land, you also took one deeper into yourself! I too like some time alone when traveling (I often vacation by myself). It gives you space to be genuinely present in the new environment rather than constantly reacting to your companions. Also forces myself to meet new people. 😀
But I want to know: what is one specific event/story on your trip that you loved the most? Or one particular person or something they said that you found most memorable?
You are right, Alex! I feel like traveling does force you to turn inwards. Vacationing by yourself is actually so wonderful! I once traveled to India by myself and it’s interesting to have yourself as your own company. You spend more time being present and reflecting. Simply just being 🙂 Your comment is a great reminder that I need to take a trip by myself sometime soon. You also can’t ignore what makes you uncomfortable and do things like ordering in a different language or meeting new people. After all, there isn’t anyone else to do it for you.
Great question 🙂 I had countless memorable experiences on the trip, but honestly the one that stands out the most was when I worked with blind children at a school in Hermosillo, Mexico. I’ve always loved children, but this experience really put it in perspective for me. I felt even more centered and present as I interacted with them. I know they enjoyed being with me and the other volunteers, but I don’t think these innocent kids realized we got more out of the experience. I learned more about living moment by moment from them. It’s inspired me to be part of such initiatives in the future as well.