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Mental health and travel

Mental health and travel
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Mental health is as important as physical health for travelers

Traveling can be a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. Dealing with covid-restrictions, airport security, language barriers, concerns about physical health, and cultural differences can take a toll on your psychological health.

So when you’re planning a trip, particularly if you’re going to be away from home for a few weeks or months, be mindful of your mental health and take steps to protect it. Here are a few tips.

Plan ahead for less stress while traveling

The more prepared you are for your trip, the less stressed you’ll be. Make sure you have all the necessary documentation, book your accommodation and transportation in advance, and research your destination so you know what to expect.

Be aware of cultural differences. This will help reduce the impact of culture shock, and help you navigate misunderstandings. Do some research on the country’s customs and traditions before you go.

Be prepared for language barriers. Communication difficulties are frustrating, but there are ways to cope. Learn a few basic phrases in the local language. Carry a pocket dictionary or phrasebook and perhaps a set of picture cards. A translation app on your phone may help, too.

Travel can worsen symptoms of existing mental health problems, so plan ahead in case you feel unwell. The Centers for Disease Control has some tips on mental health and travel that you can use to plan your trip.

Take breaks during your trip

Even a vacation can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. Make sure to schedule breaks and quiet days into your itinerary so you can relax and recharge. Rest and recuperation mean different things to different people. For some it might be spending time alone in your hotel room or by the pool with a book. Others might need to take a walk in nature or to do some physical activity.

Stay connected with loved ones while traveling

It’s important to stay connected with the people you care about while you’re traveling. This will help you feel less isolated and more supported. You can stay in touch by phone, email, or social media.

Take care of yourself before and during your trip abroad

Preparing to travel can be a source of stress in itself – don’t be the person who falls ill the minute they arrive on vacation. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly in the run-up to your trip abroad. These things will help you stay physically and mentally healthy. And while you are traveling, try to maintain these same healthy habits.

Another important step you can take to protect your physical health and support your mental health on vacation is to have a good pre-travel health routine. Make an appointment with a travel health nurse or pharmacist six to eight weeks before you travel. They can help you assess health risks at your destination and provide vaccines that will reduce the chances that you will get sick from illnesses like hepatitis A,Japanese encephalitis and meningococcal meningitis.

How to get help with mental ill-health while traveling

If you find that your mental health is suffering while you’re traveling, it’s important to seek professional help. Mental health services at your destination may not be of the same standard you get at home; and you may not be able to access the support services you use at home. The US Embassy at your destination can help you to find mental health services.

Consider arranging travel health insurance that includes access to a medical helpline with mental health support just in case you need it.

Take good care of your mental health while you travel

Traveling can be a wonderful experience, but it’s important to take care of your mental health while you’re away. By following these tips, you can reduce stress and enjoy your trip to the fullest.