Why It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Path

I’m about to turn twenty-six years old and I’m currently considering a drastic career change. It would involve going back to school for several years and adapting to a totally new lifestyle than the one I’m living now. Many aspects of my life would be different if I decide to take this leap.

The majority of my thoughts on the matter are positive: I am capable, I can do whatever I put my mind to, this new path will be more than worth it in the long run.

But some of my thoughts aren’t nearly as supportive: You’re not smart enough to go back to school, the path will be too long and challenging, you’re too old to be a student again, and so on.

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Healing My Heart in Paris

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I began planning a small vacation to Paris in January 2018. One of my dear friends from college was living there, and I wanted to visit her before she moved back to the states. The main point would be to see her, but I would also get to have my last solo getaway before our September wedding. I booked my flight for the end of March and made lists of destinations I wanted to visit. The trip would be a highlight in a lovely year leading up to my nuptials.

But the best-laid plans oft go awry. My fiance was acting odd, and when I prodded them about it, they admitted to me that they wanted to call off the wedding. After learning more, I decided we needed to break-up. It was a whirlwind of heartbreak and I was in utter shock.

The wedding was cancelled five days before my departure flight to Paris. As I struggled to comprehend the events that had just unfolded, I had to decide if I still wanted to go ahead with my travel plans. Was it a good idea to be in the city of love at this moment in time? How could I enjoy such a trip while I was feeling so broken?

moody airport selfie
Definitely cried during my layover in Munich

After a lot of contemplation, I decided to go ahead with my trip and even extend it by a few days. Why stay home and pity myself while I could be in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? I couldn’t foretell what I’d be feeling once I was there, but it couldn’t be worse than how miserable I was already. Traveling is an activity that usually gives me joy, so I hoped going to Paris would raise my spirits.

Furthermore, I knew having one of my best friends there would help. I wouldn’t be completely alone when I was feeling so vulnerable, and I looked forward to being able to talk to her about how I was feeling.

It also made sense to go ahead with the trip for a few logistical reasons. My ex-fiance could move out of our apartment that was under my name while I was abroad, and I didn’t have to lose any money if I just forged ahead. I packed my carry-on and had nothing to lose.

I cried at JFK’s international terminal with big, black sunglasses on as I waited for my flight. That’s when I realized this vacation was as a radical act of self-love. After years of putting my wants and needs aside for my ex-fiance, this trip was going to be solely mine. paris selfie eiffel tour grey skies

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle many hours later, I was feeling pretty shaky. I was happy to see my friend and her fiance, but I felt like my usual traveler confidence was missing. All I could think about was the trauma I had just experienced at home. Had I made a mistake by coming? Would I enjoy any of my nine days there?

Thankfully, my mood began to improve by the end of my second day there, and it’s because Paris is so darn charming. Every building is pretty and the streets are clean. The food is superb and it’s tempting to try one of everything at a patisserie. There are numerous sites, museums, and stores to keep you entertained for years on end. The culture and beauty of Paris was a perfect distraction.

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Sacre Coeur

My friend wined and dined me, and it felt lovely to be pampered. She taught me how to get around on the metro and brought me to less-touristy restaurants and sites. Her fiance ordered for me and showed me how to play poker. With their support and love, my confidence began to come back. I felt a little better with each passing day.

My daily itinerary was full and I felt very accomplished by the end of my trip. I avoided some of the larger sites I had seen on my last trip to Paris and found splendor in simply wandering. I walked at least ten miles on most of the days I spent there, so the dopamine must have been flowing.

Expectedly, the big sunglasses covered my teary eyes more than a few times. Paris wasn’t able to completely distract me, but I’m glad it didn’t. Various places in the city served me well as I processed my feelings. The moments of self-reflection on my trip were powerful. There was something so special about thinking about my ancestors in Notre Dame, writing about the ordeal in a journal while I nibbled on a croissant at a sidewalk cafe, and crying about my trauma as I walked along the Seine. These moments combined with the wonder of traveling all made me feel a lot better.

As I boarded my flight back to the states, I felt proud of myself for saying yes to an experience of a lifetime. Paris became the city of self-love to me. Nine days in Paris didn’t completely heal the hurt of my break-up, but being there reminded me of how beautiful the world could be. I felt so loved by my friend and she helped me more than she will ever realize. My unknown future felt scary and full of possibilities as I watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle after sunset from a river boat.

eiffel tour night paris

Thanks for reading. I’ll be sure to post my favorite sites and more pictures from my magical trip soon.

Must-Haves in Your Self-Care Travel Kit

must-haves in your self-care travel kit

When it comes to keeping yourself comfortable on a long flight, train, or bus ride, it’s essential to pack a few extra items for self-care purposes.

A Self-Care Travel Kit, previously mentioned in my guide to Practicing Self-Care While Traveling, can help you handle the stress of getting to your final destination. Here are a few essentials, including some that are in my kit!

I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you real information about self-care.

Luxury Toiletries

By luxury, I mean toiletries that aren’t the typical toothbrush, deodorant, etc. Think the special pampering and beauty items that help you unwind or feel clean on the go.

J.R. Watkins Hand Cream with Shea and Cocoa Butters, Lavender, 3.3 Ounce

Trying to catch a few zzz’s on a red-eye? Studies have shown that lavender can aid sleep and reduce stress, so consider slathering on this lavender cream before take-off. Made with shea and cocoa butter, this cream won’t feel greasy and will soften you up while the scent chills you out.  Plus, this container is small enough to bring through security!

Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes with Cucumber and Sage – 30 Count

The grime that builds up after a long flight is one of my least favorite feelings. Avoid that yucky situation by stowing wipes like these Burt’s Bees ones in your carry-on. The cucumber and sage will help you freshen up!

OLAY Complete UV Daily Moisturizer SPF 15, Sensitive Skin 6 oz

I pack this daily moisturizer by Olay on every trip I take! It includes SPF 15, so it will protect your skin from the sun when you arrive in your destination. Just squeeze a bit into a FDA-approved travel bottle like the ones in this set: Silicone Travel Bottles Set, RockBirds Large Leak Proof Travel Bottles, FDA Certificated, TSA Approved (89 milliliter 3 Pack)

Sleep Accessories – Everlasting Comfort 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow Airplane Travel Kit With Ultra Plush Velour Cover, Sleep Mask and Earplugs

A neck pillow, sleep mask, and ear plugs can all help you get coveted rest while on the go. Save by purchasing all these items in one kit! Memory foam will help you stay comfortable for the duration of your flight.

Entertainment Material

The key to having an enjoyable flight is distraction from the customary unpleasantries. Tuning out turbulence, snoring neighbors, and the roar of the plane engine can be achieved with adequate reading, listening, or watching material.

CozyPhones Sleep Headphones & Travel Bag, Lycra Cool Mesh Lining and Ultra Thin Speakers. Perfect for Sleeping, Sports, Air Travel, Meditation and Relaxation – BLACK

Trying to lull yourself to sleep with a pre-downloaded podcast? Try these CozyPhones on your next trip. They lay flat against your ears, making it more comfortable to relax while listening.

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers

I personally like to pack a paperback, but e-readers are great storing numerous books, magazines, and news sources. My mom swears by her Kindle. Check out this sleek option from Amazon that provides the paperwhite tone readers love.

Protection – Zoppen Mulit-purpose Rfid Blocking Travel Passport Wallet (Ver.4) Tri-fold Document Organizer Holder, 1 Black

Knowing my travel documents are safe makes feel feel secure. This wallet has plenty of pockets for your passport, tickets, and other documents, and is made from material that will protect you from identity theft. Double win!

Smart Snacks & Drinks

Here are some of my favorite snack suggestions to keep hunger at bay.

15 Piece Game Jerky Alligator-elk-buffalo-kangaroo-ostrich-pheasant-venison-wild Boar Gift Pack

Protein is the best bet in terms of making me feel full. Check out these Game Jerky Sticks which come in a 15-piece pack. There’s enough to try a different flavor on multiple trips!

RxBar Real Food Protein Bars Variety Pack, 7 Flavors

Looking for a non-meat protein source to bring on board? Rx Bars are my personal favorite. Egg-whites and nuts provide protein while dates and figs make these super tasty. I love the blueberry flavor, which is also Whole30-compliant!

Simple Modern 17 oz Wave Water Bottle – Stainless Steel Swell Hydro Metal Flask – Wide Mouth Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Reusable Small Kids Coffee Leak Proof Thermos – Fiesta

Don’t forget to refill your water-bottle once you’re through security! These bottles by Swell come in a variety of colors and sizes. Pick your favorite variety and pack it to stay hydrated wherever you go. 

What are your must-haves in your Self-Care Travel Kit? Share them below in the comments and I’ll consider adding your suggestions to future blog posts!

 

Practicing Self-Care While Traveling

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Sometimes your vacation can become more stressful than pleasurable. Getting to your final destination can be an extremely frustrating beginning of your trip. Upon arrival, you may feel overwhelmed. So many sites to see, so little time! It’s normal to crave the comfort of your bed once the initial excitement of being in a new place wears off.

Isn’t a vacation supposed to be relaxing in the first place? Not every vacation is meant to be relaxing (ahem, Walt Disney World) but feeling too stressed is not ideal when you’re on a holiday.

Stress related to travel is pretty common, but your travel experiences do not have to completely burn you out! Establishing a few self-care rituals in your hotel room, rental car, campsite, or wherever you are on your journey can help you re-charge. Read on for some simple tips and tricks I use when traveling that help keep me grounded.

Pack a Self-Care Kit for the Journey

Clothes, underwear, shoes, travel-size shampoo to new a few suitcase staples… It’s important to pack the things you physically need for your trip, but it’s also important to pack a few things that will put you at ease.

Picture it: You’re on an eight-hour flight and your skin starts to feel gross. You only took a few bites of the in-service meal and hunger begins creeping in. You’ve already read the airline’s magazine cover-to-cover and the free headphones your stewardess gave you aren’t cutting it when it comes to the aggressive snoring of the man behind you. We’ve all been there.

Creating a self-care kit to keep in your personal bag can help you avoid that bleak situation. What should go into your self-care kit? That depends on what items will specifically keep you comfortable or entertained. Here are a few ideas based on previous kits I’ve had:

  • Luxury Toiletries – Or toiletries that are helpful but not mandatory. Sure you packed a toothbrush, but did you also bring a little bit of your favorite lavender lotion that always calms you down? Lotion, perfume, chapstick, dry shampoo, and face wipes, to name a few, can really make a difference when it comes to feeling clean and pampered on the go. Just remember to be respectful of space boundaries when it comes to fragrances!
  • Sleep Accessories – Sleep is one of the most important self-care practices we do every day, so do what you can to not disrupt your sleep cycle in your travels. Sleep masks, neck pillows, sleep aids like melatonin, and ear plugs or sound-proof headphones can go a long way if you’re trying to rest on a plane or train
  • Reading, Listening, and Watching Material – All forms of entertainment can be self-care when you’re on the go because distraction is golden. I personally prefer reading and listening to music or a podcast than watching a movie when I travel, but it’s a matter of personal preference. If you’re a book fan, bringing an e-reader is better in terms of having more material without sacrificing coveted packing space. Try Audible or Amazon Music Unlimited.
  • Copies of Essential Documents – For me, part of self-care is preventing situations that could stress me out. Having copies (digital or paper) of travel documents, credit cards, and other essentials like my license helps make me feel safe and secure
  • Smart Snacks – Pack snacks that will keep hunger at bay. Avoid anything too messy, especially something that could open in your bag. I usually bring a pack of almonds, jerky, or a fruit and nut bar, but snack preferences are personal. Don’t forget to refill your reusable water bottle once you’re through airport security to stay hydrated as well!
  • A Journal – If you like to write or doodle, then absolutely bring a notebook and writing utensil in your kit. Jotting down your thoughts can be a healthy way to decompress and express yourself, which brings me to my next self-care tip…

Check out product suggestions for your own Self-Care Travel Kit here! 

Express Your Feelings

Whenever I’m planning a vacation, I imagine how wonderful I’ll feel. I’ll see beautiful sites, eat amazing food, and have a perfect time.

That is just not realistic. Sure, I’m generally bubbly when I’m traveling because it makes me happy, but that doesn’t mean that all other emotions in my wheelhouse won’t make an appearance.

When I was developing my love of travel as a high school and college student, I tried to bottle up feelings I deemed negative. I convinced myself that there was no reason to feel scared/sad/angry while I was travelling. In hindsight, this was an act of self-sabotage.

Through therapy, I worked on having a healthier relationship with my feelings. I now encourage myself to express openly as an act of self-care, regardless of my environment. This does not and should not change just because I’m on vacation.

So if you need a good cry or want to tell your travel buddy what’s bugging you, do it. After my break-up, I spent plenty of time crying and swearing on the streets of Paris and it made me feel incredibly human.

Plans go awry, people say hurtful things, and issues from home can sneak into your carry-on. Don’t ignore your feelings just because they weren’t on your itinerary.

Maintain Your At-Home Habits

This may seem like a given, but I tend to find myself skipping essential parts of my home self-care routine when I’m on the road. Some parts are okay to skip (most hotels don’t have tubs to put a bath bomb in any way) but missing out on some of these habits can really make you feel off-kilter.

Drinking a cup of water in the morning makes me feel good, so I try to remember to do so when I’m on the go (even if the water from the hotel sink tastes weird.) If I forget to start my day with water, I’ll get dehydrated pretty quickly and feel crappy.

Another self-care habit that occasionally slips through the cracks when I’m traveling is properly caring for my skin! Forgetting to put my moisturizer with SPF on my face always leads to sunburned regret.

Keep up any of the usual healthy habits that make you feel your best. Your body will thank you!

Go With Your Flow

FOMO has added major stress to my previous travels. I have tried to eat, see, and do everything possible on various vacations. Meticulous planning has helped me experience more than improvising a schedule would, but I have never been successful in doing absolutely everything a destination has to offer because it is impossible to do so. 

Instead of cramming activities, accept that you won’t be able to do it all. Prioritize your must-dos and follow your intuition otherwise. It’s good to put aside time for the sites you absolutely want to hit up, but putting too much pressure on yourself will make your vacation feel more like a marathon.

I strongly encourage leaving plenty of free time in your itinerary. This will allow to you to explore and go with your own flow throughout your journey. Free time is also when those magical travel moments, like striking up a conversation with a local or finding a hidden gem in a big city, tend to happen.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to change your plans if that is what you need or want. You may have had an afternoon museum visit on the schedule but let yourself take a nap that day instead if that’s what your body is telling you to do.

Of course, changing plans could cost you money depending on the situation. If you’re aware of the associated costs and feel comfortable with them, do what your gut tells you!

During my previous trip to Paris, I decided to extend my stay by a few days. Six days there would have been more than adequate, but my intuition begged me to stretch the trip to nine days. I did, and, even with the extra cost of changing my flight, I have no regrets. Adjusting your schedule to suit your needs is an act of self-care that will improve your travel experience.

The bottom line? Be a little selfish when you’re traveling. Your dedication to your well-being will only make your journeys more enjoyable.

Share your favorite self-care tips below in the comments!

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