Six Tips for Staying Centered While Traveling

Have you ever noticed that it can be a real battle to stay centered and grounded when you’re away from home, even (especially!) when you’re visiting friends and family?

I adore travel—seeing new places, and the opportunity to explore the unfamiliar. And, of course, I am always delighted when it’s time to go visit my loved ones … especially my adorable grandson.

A huge component of my own reinvented life is to set it up so that I can bring my work with me and move around the planet more freely.

At one time this sort of freedom was one of my greatest desires.

But… now that I’ve made it a reality, I can see some potential pitfalls.

Living out of a suitcase can be a challenge even for the most organized among us. And unfortunately I don’t count myself among that group! Part of getting is right is the ability to figure out what to even pack.

But that’s not even the most challenging part of preparing to take off on a trip.

There’s preparing your home for your absence. And, worst of all, the weird way that everything starts to stack up in the days before take off and suddenly you are faced with a mountain of To-Do’s that now have a strict deadline.

I don’t call myself an introvert, and in fact I’m clearly extrovert on the Meyers Briggs scale, but as I wrote about HERE, I’ve noticed as the years pass and my wisdom grows that I value my alone time more and more.

And, that time can be very difficult to secure when I’m sharing a hotel room or sleeping in my sister’s living room.

I can’t even imagine how true introverts deal with this!

The packing, the preparations, the keeping track of everything when you’re moving from place to place, the (sometimes) lack of a private space … well all of it COULD lead to giving up on the whole thing and just opting to stay home most of the time.

But… I know I don’t want that!

Setting Up for Success

As I prepared for the current trip I’m on, I did some deep introspection. Just because anxiety and spaciness accompanied me on previous journeys of this sort, did that mean I had to just expect it?

After all, I know I am a powerful creator. What story did I want to tell here?

I decided to take control, and to be proactive in deciding how I wanted to FEEL and what I wanted to commit to DOING this time around.

I want to feel relaxed, grounded, connected to my inner wisdom, focused, and clear.

Last week, on the day before takeoff, I woke up with my stomach roiling with the familiar anxiety, and my mind racing a mile a minute.

How was I going to get it all done?? HOW??

In that moment I committed to making a different choice.

I set the intention for Peaceful Efficiency.

Sure the list was long, sure I had yet to figure out exactly what I was bringing on this month long journey encompassing three states, but I could still set my intention.

This meant that in each moment I could choose the action that would result in a feeling of Peaceful Efficiency.

Normally when I’m feeling that “way too much to do” energy, I might skip my morning meditation and other grounding practices.

This time, I made it a point to do those alignment practices FIRST.

It made a huge difference, let me tell you!

I may not have finished every single item I had hoped to complete before leaving town, but I ticked off all the most important ones with a sense of calm rather than franticness.

My bags were packed and ready to go hours before I had to lock the door behind me.

There’s really something to this, I realized.

So, I asked myself, what intentions can I set for the trip itself? What will help me stay connected to those intentions?

I know I want to feel present, vital and alive for my people. At the same time I want to make time for my writing, my work, and my own alignment.

In the past this has seemed like an either/or situation. I could only have one or the other. And some days I ended up with neither. I felt draggy, distant and out of it, and I couldn’t focus on work or alignment!

I came up with the following strategies to stay grounded, present and full of energy when away from home. 

I’m a week in and so far, it’s helping!

I hope they can serve in your own wanderings away from home.

Strategies to Stay Grounded and Present

1. Make time daily for your personal grounding routines.

We all have some morning routines, and many of us have some practices and activities that connect us to ourselves and to Source. It might be meditation, or exercise, morning pages, or something else entirely.

These can be hard to keep up with while on the road. But try to spend at least a few minutes each morning on one or more of your routines. Think of it like brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t dream of skipping that for days on end just because you’re away from home.

2. Keep up with your supplements.

If you take any vitamins or other supplements, don’t just leave them behind! Your body needs that extra boost more than ever when you are dealing with long days of travel and sleeping in strange beds.

Pack them up in whatever way that works for you and give yourself a calendar reminder if necessary to take them.

3. Get Some Greens Every Day.

In line with the last tip, you need nutrients more than ever when you are away from your familiar routines. When traveling you may be eating in restaurants a lot more than usual, where often vegetables are at a premium. Do what you can to make sure you get some dark leafy greens into your system on a daily basis. For some this means, carrying around a ziploc baggie of one of those great powdered greens formulas.

Take my word for it:  A few greens each day and your mood and body will thank you!

4. Remember to Breathe

This sounds funny—of course you’ll be breathing. But, I’m talking about some deep belly breaths which signal your entire system that all is well. Try 3-6 deep breaths while sitting on the plane, while waiting for your luggage, when sitting in traffic on a bumpy bus.

And, most importantly, don’t forget your deep breaths if you are hanging with family members who know just what to say to trigger you back to feeling like you’re 10 years old and being picked on!

5. Move Your Body

It’s all too easy to let your movement/exercise routine fall by the wayside when on the road. At least it has been for me. And that is the exact worst thing to do. It might be necessary to modify it. You might not be staying somewhere that has the space or facility to accommodate your normal workout. Your favorite yoga teacher feels so far away!

But, it’s still possible to get your body moving in some way. Take a walk, put on a yoga class or workout video on YouTube, and just shake it for even five or ten minutes.

6. Find Your Alone Time

This last is especially important if your trip involves visiting family, friends, or something like a convention or trade show. Strategize when and how you will get away and have some time just for you. At the very least, make the most of those visits to the bathroom! Use it for deep breathing, affirmations, or anything else that grounds you.

This one is the most difficult and the most important for me personally! As a chronic people-pleaser I am loath to disappoint folks by doing a disappearing act. But,  I’m reminding myself that when I give myself that nourishing alone time, then I can be so much more present for my peeps when I return. (Not to mention that unexamined people pleasing is just plain unhealthy!)


What’s YOUR favorite strategy for staying grounded when you’re on the road? Share in the comments!


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Showing 6 comments
  • Olivia

    Hello, Sarah! First, let me say that I enjoy reading your work and feel very much a kindred spirit. I believe that I had even been in your store in Arcata where my brother lived for many years (he opened Kyoto Japanese restaurant in Eureka which he sold a few years ago). I also took an evening class from you at New Renaissance books with my cousin (since passed away) about 4 or 5 years ago in Portland.

    I’m writing now because your “travel” post is so timely. Your “advice” is exactly what I try to do when I am on the road (with more or less success). And because I am retired I travel more frequently. However, I find that it is the transition back to home that is more difficult! The first day or two back home I often feel very sad, missing my friends, family or traveling companions. It takes a couple of days to get back into my own life. This maybe fueled by the fact that I now live alone in a lovely little condo on the river in Portland after the end of a 18 year marriage. I’ve been here two years and I love it but that travel transition can be a hard one.

    Today, after reading your piece, I started musing about strategies to help with that transition. Lining up a call to the people you just left behind to say you made it, you miss them, and look forward to talking soon might help. Contacting someone locally to say you are home might be helpful. Maybe just sitting a moment and appreciating? I find it is important to me to unpack and put everything in its place as soon as I return, no matter the hour! I’d be interested in your thoughts. Happy transitions! — Olivia

    • sarah

      Thanks so much for these thoughtful words Olivia! We are definitely kindred spirits, and what an interesting coincidence about your brother and Kyoto in Eureka. What a wonderful restaurant that was. And I do remember meeting you at New Renaissance – I think that was my first coaching workshop! My condolences about your cousin.

      I’m so glad this post resonated for you… and that you practice similar strategies to stay grounded. Your musings about the travel transition you face when you return home definitely inspire me for a future blog about this. A good friend of mine calls this Transition Shock – which of course accompanies all sorts of transitions, but she really notices that she suffers from (a milder form of) it when she returns home after a trip.

      I think your ideas are all good ones. Staying in touch with the friends and loved ones you have just left via call, text or email, and reaching out to your local friends is definitely a great idea. Perhaps making a plan to get involved in an activity locally soon after your return? (But not too soon! I do think it’s important to make time for some downtime after returning from a trip. This can be difficult for those of us who work, but it makes a huge difference in the reintegration.)

      I definitely agree about the unpacking and getting myself organized again. I usually also do it no matter the hour of my return – although, if it’s REALLY late I do wait until the morning.

      Thanks again for your comment. Stay in touch.

  • Loran Hills

    Sarah, I just returned from two weeks on the road with my husband. We traveled with a very small camper. One of the things I did to create space was get a tent and sleep outside for personal space. Unfortunately, I was so tired by the end of the day I couldn’t think straight much less write. We covered over 2300 miles.

    I have to think seriously about a plan that works while traveling. We’re on the go a lot and it’s difficult to carve out that space I NEED. I’ve also become more introverted with age. At home I have a lot of space and time and I rely on it for my sanity.

    I’m mostly unpacked, but a rock broke a window out of the camper so I spent a lot of time vacuuming up the glass before unloading the camper. I just ran out of juice to finish it all up.

    • Sarah

      Wow Loran, sounds like a pretty awesome trip. But, I hear you about the importance of carving out a plan…. and then sticking to it! If you are traveling with just you and your husband, it may be possible to work that out with him by explaining your needs and asking for his ideas.

      One of my challenges is staying with family and so many different people. I feel like I’m disappointing them if I want to retreat to a private space, but sometimes I just have to take that risk. I’m still working on finding the balance. But since I’m traveling a lot more now it’s becoming more and more important!

      Good luck finishing the glass clean up job. Sorry about that window! Thanks for the comment too!

  • Ginny

    Am packing up to head out for two weeks. GREAT REMINDER to take my green powders with me for nutrition and energy!

    • Sarah

      Yay Ginny! I’m glad this was timely. And that’s a good addition. Green powders are perfect travel foods. Because sometimes you end up in places where fresh veggies might be in short supply or uber expensive.

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