how-travel-changed-me-woman

How Travel Changed Me as a Woman

how-travel-changed-me-woman

 

We’ve all heard the inspirational quotes about travel that keep us yearning for overseas experiences. “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”, right? For those of us who have had travel experiences, from a week or two to living abroad, I’m sure we can all agree that it opens your mind to new experiences and to the world around us. Along with experiencing new places, for an extended period of travelling, we may start to notice that this exposure to new experiences can change how we conduct ourselves, our mentality, and much more. In this post I share how travel has started to change me as a woman since leaving Canada in February, 2015.

 

Travel Changed…

My interest in language and culture

Back home in Canada, we are required to learn French in school as it’s our national language along with English, and I have always loved the language, however I felt it was almost useless in a city such as Vancouver where minimal people actually speak the language daily, being so far from our french friends in Quebec. I began to feel as though languages were more of a high school requirement as they diminished from my “passions” list. I could get by every day using english without needing to communicate in any other language. So why did I need other languages?

But once I began travelling, my perception completely changed. I was visiting countries where I wanted to connect with locals, share stories and ideas. Or even just tell them to have a great day or to see how they are. Once again, my love (and seemingly need!) for foreign languages returned. Now, currently living in Chile and planning to travel around Latin America, I am driven to learn new languages to meet new people and become more immersed in wherever I am at the moment. And returning to Canada, I almost felt as if the english language was boring, I now crave the challenges that come with learning a new language!

 

My thinking about the environment and sustainability

I studied environmental conservation in university, but even without that, environmental issues and sustainability is currently on the forefront of many people’s minds. When travelling, however, especially to areas that are more impacted, or don’t cover it up, you start thinking about how you’re impacting the world and become more conscious of your purchases and actions.

One experience which left a mark was off Redang Island, Malaysia during a scuba trip, where I constantly found coral covered in plastic, fishing line, and cans and plastic covering the ocean floor. It takes plastic hundreds of years to fully decompose. This and many other exposures of environmental impact and humans mistreating our home makes me want to think twice about a use-once coffee cup, thinking about how long my waste will be left on earth for generations to come.

 

My relationship with my body

Being in my home country and especially in my teens, I was constantly worried about my body and my weight, and would never be seen without some makeup or fixing my hair. This continued even after university, where I didn’t have as many pressures but was still exposed to a culture and mind-frame where I easily caved to what “society” wanted me to be, or look like.

Now, living abroad for the past couple of years, I realize how focused I used to be on my appearance. While travelling, I unconsciously began to shift my focus more to new cultures, new cities, new friends who couldn’t care less if i straightened my hair or not, and a new way of living. I didn’t care as much about my appearance or what nail polish colour I was wearing because what and who were around me was much more interesting. Now, I am more concerned about my inner well being, a wholesome health. I rarely wear makeup except for a recent job interview or lipstick when I go out dancing, and my latest style goal is how to be comfortable wandering cities to mountains day in and day out, and cutting down my wardrobe so it all fits into my one 65 litre backpack. I’m pale, my hair is usually a jungle, I haven’t had a pedicure in a while, and I’ve never felt more confident.

 

My anxious nature to ease

I am the anxious type at my core, but I hide it well. At home, I constantly worried about the little things. After being abroad and realising how large the world is and how small my worries really are in the long term and worldwide scheme of things, travelling really helped me put my anxieties and worries into perspective. I have become more easygoing. I meet new friends knowing I will have to say goodbye in a few months, I know I may lose my luggage or miss my bus but it will all eventually work out. I’m learning to slow down and appreciate everything I experience around me. I’ve realised that at this moment in life, the most important things in life for me are  my health, my passport, good people, and savouring the moments.

 

My tendency to judge others and myself

Living in my hometown of Vancouver, Canada, I am grateful to have grown up in a very culturally diverse city, which helped me to become more interested in the world around me. However, my city is also one for style, and “outer-appearance approval” (see earlier in this post). Meeting new people when I was younger, I would judge others on who their friends were, where they lived, or if they had the latest clothes from Aritzia (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) . Since I have travelled, I have become much more interested in cultures around the world, and really when it comes down to it, how similar we all are, regardless of what patch of soil we happened to be born on or how much money is in our pockets. I learned no matter where you live or where you come from, we are all so similar and just subject to different circumstances, and this really helps me to see the world as one land, separated by a couple of human-made “borders”.

 

I would love to hear from you if you have anything to add from what you have experienced, how travel may have changed your mentality or emotions toward life, or if you’ve had similar experiences as well!

x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

 

Travel Yoga: How to Strengthen your Practice Abroad

Exercising abroad is a difficult task. Your routine is bound to change from your schedule at home in all ways, and especially with exercise! Through travel we tend to replace gym memberships with more outdoor activities like hiking mountains or strolling through the city streets, sometimes it’s nice to still keep a small routine exercise to keep us feeling our best, mentally and physically, while abroad. This is how I have continued my practice abroad, and at sometimes re-ignited my practice when I’ve fallen out of routine, through these travel yoga secrets.

 

I had a difficult time at first trying to keep up with my practice. Going from a membership to a studio close to my house and taking a class before work almost every morning, I knew my practice would change once I was abroad. Little did I know just how much it would change. After incorporating each of these tips I have below, my practice became much more steady, and all of the wonderful benefits I had experienced at home came rushing back – from a strong mind to even stronger legs. Here’s what you can do to continue exercising while abroad, because we all know we aren’t just here for the savasana.

 

travel yoga in melbourne outside

 

Remember your Mat

Bring your mat with you! I use “The Mat 5mm” by lululemon which provides the perfect amount of comfort and support for my practice, and “The Reversible Mat 3mm” for travel is a great lightweight option as well for travellers always on the go. I always hop on the plane with my carry on crossbody bag of essentials (see what’s in it here!) and my travel yoga mat bag slung over my shoulder destined for the overhead bin. In any exercise, especially yoga, it is crucial to practice on a good quality mat to avoid injury and enhance your practice. I’ve tried multiple yoga mats and this is the one, guys. I can do a sweaty one hour hot yoga practice and don’t even need a towel with this mat. Absolute Essential.

travel yoga mat
Photo copyright: lululemon athletica. The Mat 5mm.

 

Roll out of bed & into your practice

Even better, leave your mat rolled out beside your bed waiting for you. I love rolling out of bed and before I can think of anything else, I’m on my mat, stretching and breathing out all of my kinks.That way, you have no excuse that you’re tired or have no time. Set your alarm even a few minutes earlier than your usual wake up call, and get your body moving! Even 5 minutes of just sitting and breathing alone is a total game changer for my entire day. Plus, add in a little yoga workout and stretch and you’re done your workout before you even have breakfast. Total travel yoga win.

 

Find your crew

Wherever you are in the world, try to find a group of like-minded or like-exercising people in your local area. Free park yoga is exploding everywhere and it’s amazing! Check local facebook groups, your hostel or hotel, and ask at community centres to find free or by-donation activities. Plus, a group of fellow travelling yogis will help you to stay on track if you make set times and days to practice together.

Beautiful sculpture artwork near Penang, Malaysia.

 

Do yoga with me (THE BOMB) . com  ( doyogawithme.com )

Best yogs website ever – in my opinion. Sign up for free to access multiple classes right from your device. Choose your level and style of class from kundalini to pre-natal yoga, and get practicing. I recommend this class (intermediate level- choose what’s appropriate for you), which I’ve been following to help re-ignite my practice and I promise your muscles will feel this one! I used to take classes with Fiji in Victoria, Canada and learned so much. So imagine how happy I am to be able to continue her classes when I’m all the way over in Chile!

 

Grab those Studio Intro Deals

And if where you are does have a yoga presence- Get those intro deals girl! During my entire time living in Australia (1.5 years), I think I paid in full for a drop in class maybe once. Many studios have intro passes for your first week or two if you’ve never visited the studio before. As yoga is such a trend these days, yoga classes in Melbourne were averaging $25 or more for a one hour class, whereas by hopping between studios in Melbourne city and surrounding suburbs, I would purchase a two-week unlimited pass, taking up to 10 classes in that time, for $19 in some places. Other studios even had a FREE pass for your first week, no obligations following. In addition, keep your eye out for special events like studio openings, studio anniversaries and International Yoga Day – free classes are everywhere just waiting for you – and for cheap. Travel yoga just got way easier. No excuses there!

travel yoga asana in melbourne australia
Stretching it out in my tiny Melbourne studio flat.

 

There are all my travel yoga secrets! So many options to be able to get moving no matter what excuse is holding me back. Of course finding other ways to keep moving such as hiking, exploring a new city or town, or going for a bike ride are also great ways to see the country you’re in and stay active while doing so! I hope these inspire you to roll out your mat or attend that yoga class in a foreign language, and let me know how it goes!

 

How do you get moving when you’re abroad? Have you noticed a change in your fitness routine when you’re travelling vs at home? Let me know below!

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

Stay Grounded while Abroad: 3 Simple & Fast Tips

For all my fellow travellers who have at some point felt disconnected with themselves and their values while travelling or living abroad. It has happened to me, and may have/will happen to you! But no fret. Here are three of my best tips (Fast and Free!) to stay grounded and connect back to ourselves during our crazy adventures.
My first long, solo trip abroad snowballed into a one and a half year working holiday in Australia.  I was in a new country (and continent!), trying to find a job, couchsurfing, making new friends, and caught up in a tornado of new experiences. It felt amazing, liberating, and exciting. But after a couple of months, I realised amongst the amazing new chaos, I lost for a moment a bit of who I really was. I needed something that was easy, quick, and effective, to help me touch back down to home base while continuing with the adventures!

 

Here are 3 super easy practices I do in a couple of minutes, whenever I feel scatter-brained, to check back in with myself while abroad. The best part- you can practice these anywhere! My favourite times are when I’m riding the train home, walking along a long busy road to a destination, or whenever I have a spare moment (literally just a moment!) all to myself. They are short, effective and obviously free!

 

   

 

1. Focus on your breath. 

 

I know, I know. So simple! But trust me, this is what works best for me. Wherever I am, even just for a minute, I start to focus on and count my breaths, and try to get to 10 without losing count. Sound easy? Try it!

 

This is such a simple way to check in with yourself, how you’re feeling, and to calm down. The goal is not to think about nothing, it’s to simply acknowledge a thought and then let it float away, continuing to return to your breath counts. Even after only a minute of counting my breaths, my breath is deeper, slower, and I seem to complete things and speak with more calm and purpose.  With continual practice, you’ll be able to focus in a much shorter time and stay grounded while travelling.

 

2. Write down absolutely everything you can think of that you’re grateful for.

 

I practice this when I have a bit more time and space such as when I’m on the train or at home.
This I love to do when I’ve lost sight of what I really love and what supports me. It’s a wonderful reminder that you have everything you need at any moment, and it also helps you to think about what you hold dear to you as a reminder. By the end of this list I am literally writing things like “Slippers”  and “water fountains” and “smiles”. It helps you to see everything more humbly instead of always searching for the next cool thing to do. Try doing this for the country you’re in as well or where you’re travelling! I promise you’ll slow down and see everything more vividly.

 

3. Remain close to those who you respect and you share similar values with.

 

Whenever I feel a bit out of it or needing a literal anchor to bring me back to myself, I always reach out to my friends at home. Those who have known me the longest, have supported me through my travels abroad and whom I still consider dear friends even after all of this time living abroad. I have found that my closest friends are those who I can forget to speak to for months at a time, and all of sudden I call them on skype and we can talk as if no time has passed. These are also people with whom we share similar values and experiences, and they automatically ground me while travelling.

 

In addition, there are so many opportunities to connect with new friends while abroad who share similar interests and are likely experiencing similar situations as you! For example, I miss having regular yoga classes with my friends back home, so here in Chile I went out of my comfort zone and tried a spanish speaking yoga class (I am just learning spanish), and have made a couple of friends just by going a couple of times- plus, we are getting to know each other in the language I’m learning! A great mix of making new friends with similar ideals and enriching my experience abroad.

 

What’s your secret way to stay grounded while abroad? Share in the comments below or send me a message! If you liked this post, you can subscribe to the right & I’ll send you a note when my next post is up. x

 

Happy travels & stay grounded!

 

– Jenn, The Redhead Abroad