Hi! If we haven’t met, we’re Jack and Gab. In 2019, we quit our jobs to pursue our dream of traveling the world. We try to stay clear of major tourist destinations, instead traveling to more under-the-radar/hidden gem spots. We create content about these places in the hope of encouraging other people to do the same.

We’ve been on the road for 5 months straight, and during that time, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves. More importantly, traveling has taught us how important it is to take care of ourselves so we stay happy, healthy and fit–no matter where we are in the world.

Jack and Gab Explore walking along fortress in Skopje, Macedonia

One of the quickest ways to get burnt out while traveling is by not taking care of yourself. We’ve learned this first-hand. In our opinion, travel is one of the only things that money can buy that can truly make you happier. But even though traveling is a wonderful and life-changing experience, it can also wear you out really fast.

We’ll be the first to admit that sometimes travel pushes you past your limits. We’ve been exhausted and sleep-deprived, homesick and lonely, anxious and depressed–just like any other traveler.

Self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. And there are so many great ways to take care of yourself while traveling that cost little to no money. Here are our 11 top ways that we stay happy, healthy & fit while traveling the world.

11 Ways We Stay Happy, Healthy and Fit While Traveling

1. Create a morning routine that works for you.

Gab giving Jack coffee in bed

One of the main reasons that travel can wear you out so quickly is because it tends to remove any kind of routine or stability from your life. It’s no surprise to us that this is also the thing that makes travel so great–travel pushes you to learn and grow and change, but you have to learn when to push back.

Before we started traveling, we were morning people. Like, really early morning people. We used to get up at 5 AM and go to a yoga class or the gym before work. Since we started traveling, we’ve become night owls. But we realized that we were really missing our morning routine of getting exercise in.

So, we created a modified morning routine that fits our life on the road. Our morning routine looks something like this:

8:00 AM: Alarm goes off (Jack grumpily mumbles and groans–Gab is definitely more of the morning person in this relationship)

8:10 AM: 10 minute guided meditation. We love using the Insight Timer app–there are a bunch of great guided meditations for beginners. Meditation puts us in a great headspace for the day, and we’d recommend it to anyone–whether you are traveling or otherwise.

8:30 AM: Get heavily caffeinated. We like to read the news while we do this and keep up with what’s going on in the U.S. (which is usually pretty depressing). Sometimes we read if we’re in the middle of a good book.

9:00 AM: Do some sort of physical activity (this doesn’t happen every morning). Sometimes we follow a yoga tutorial from YouTube, otherwise we just ace it and make up a full body workout as we go. Our resistance bands are wonderful because they make your workout more challenging and they take almost no space in a suitcase.

9:30 AM: Take a hot shower then get dressed for the day.

Obviously, no morning routine is going to look the same for everybody. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find what works best. Once you find something that works fairly well, challenge yourself to stick to the routine every day for a week or two. After that, the routine should come more naturally.

2. Less TV, more reading.

Jack and Gab Explore Watching Less TV

We didn’t even realize how much TV we were watching until we did a 30 day no TV challenge. For the entire month of August, we completely cut ourselves off from all forms of TV (cable, Netflix, HBO, everything). It was really hard at first, but we are so glad that we did it because it completely changed our lifestyle for the better.

The challenge had some really amazing and unexpected benefits. For one, we started eating dinner at a table every night together instead of in front of the TV. We had some really great conversations, and we noticed ourselves eating way less.

We also started reading way more. Gab finished 8 books in a single month when we weren’t watching TV. It felt amazing to be reading such thought-provoking books while we were traveling the world.

Overall, the combination of less TV and more reading has made a noticeable improvement in our happiness. We have better meal times, better conversation, and we sleep better.

3. Connect with loved ones in a meaningful way.

Jack and Gab Spending Christmas 2015 with family

People often ask us about the toughest part of traveling full-time. The answer is easy–missing our family and friends (furry and otherwise!) back home. There’s no true substitute for spending time together, but you can still find great ways to connect with loved ones.

The biggest thing that we learned is that not all ways of connecting are equal. On a purely logistical basis, people use a wide range of communication apps–WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangouts are all apps we use regularly.

On a more emotional level, people all have their preferred ways of communication. For example, Gab loves FaceTiming with her sister since it allows her to see her adorable one-year-old niece who has taken to kissing the phone screen. For Jack’s mom, she loves receiving post cards from the different places in the world that we visit.

It’s all a matter of finding out the best ways to connect with people, then making an effort to connect regularly. We find it always lifts our mood to talk with loved ones and it almost makes us feel like we’re back at home.

4. Drastically reduce alcohol consumption.

Two stella artois beers on a restaurant table overlooking a town square

Cutting our alcohol consumption is probably one of the most difficult yet rewarding things we have done for ourselves. Drinking alcohol is fun. We get it. Especially after a long travel day, there is nothing better then putting your feet up and having a cold beer.

But we noticed ourselves not sleeping well, gaining weight, and a general decrease in energy. After challenging ourselves to spend an entire month with no alcohol, we were ready to drastically change our lifestyle.

After just a single month with no alcohol, we were sleeping better, we lost weight without even trying, and we felt our energy going back up. We found that by replacing a drink with a cup of coffee or tea, or even a glass of seltzer water, we didn’t miss it as much.

While we have never been binge drinkers by any means, we now drink a very low amount of alcohol. We have a drink maybe once or twice a week. That’s it. It makes us happier, more energetic and definitely more fit.

5. Go 80/20 Vegan.

Falafel and hummus plates from ZATAR Falafel and Hummus in Vilnius, Lithuania

We don’t care what anyone says–being a vegan while traveling the world and hoping to experience other cultures fully just doesn’t work. You need to have some flexibility in terms of what you eat, especially when you’re a foodie like us who enjoys trying new cuisines!

But that doesn’t mean that you just have to abandon the vegan lifestyles and ideals altogether. We’ve found that eating vegan 80% of the time (mostly when we’re cooking at home) and non-vegan the other 20% of the time works for us.

So why go 80/20 vegan? It’s plain and simple. Because it’ll help you be a healthier person, and it helps reduce your impact on this planet. On the flip side, it still allows you to enjoy the foods you want to enjoy, just less often. It’s win-win.

And if 80/20 seems too severe for you, start with something simple. Switch out dairy milk with soy milk, oat milk, or rice milk. They are wonderful alternatives and you have to start somewhere.

6. Walk everywhere.

Couple exploring Old Town in Vilnius, Lithuania

We. Walk. Everywhere. Even when we’re lugging our 50 pounds of luggage and it’s a 30 minute walk to the bus station. It helps that we’re budget travelers and this allows us to also save money. Plus, it’s better for the environment!

We always feel so accomplished when we push ourselves to walk somewhere far. It also allows us to see parts of a city that we likely wouldn’t have seen or noticed otherwise.

To track how much we walk, Jack has an Apple Watch and Gab has a FitBit. While technology isn’t always the best solution, we like having these things because they keep track of our steps and challenge us to walk more.

7. Find Ways to Interact with Animals.

Cat sleeping at Cat Cafe KaciU Kavine in Vilnius, Lithuania

Spending time around animals improves our moods like nothing else. There is something so special about being around a fuzzy little creature that never judges you. It’s so revitalizing.

Since we’re traveling, we can’t really bring a dog or cat along with us. But we always make an effort to pet friendly dogs that we pass in the street or visit cat cafes. It always puts us in a good mood.

8. Find a creative outlet.

Gab smiling with graffiti wall in background

For a lot of adults, finding a job or a hobby that indulges your creative side is hard. Work, family, friends and prior commitments often get in the way. This is a shame, because creativity is when we feel the most alive.

If you’ve been missing a creative outlet from your life (like we were for so long before we started traveling), try new things until you find something that sticks. Painting, knitting, journaling, cooking, photography and blogging are all relatively easy and cheap creative hobbies to start. 

Do you love baking? Start a blog by taking pictures of your creations with your smart phone! It doesn’t have to be anything professional–hobbies are supposed to be fun!

For us, our creative outlet is our YouTube Channel and Travel Blog. It allows us to use our creativity in the form of writing, photography, filming and editing. Not only does it give our travels a purpose, it also helps us feel as though we are building something greater than ourselves.

9. Meet new people that you have things in common with.

Volunteer group teaching English in Slovakia with Angloville

At this stage in our lives, there’s probably nobody that we have more in common with than fellow travelers. They understand from first hand experience why we quit our jobs to do what we’re doing. Finding these people and connecting with them is a top priority for us.

One way that we do this is by going on free walking tours. Many major cities now offer free walking tours, and it’s a great way to meet young travelers. Another way that we do this is through volunteering, which we’ll touch on a bit more in #11.

When you’re traveling, you meet people from all over the world. It’s so wonderful to chat with people who come from very different backgrounds from you, yet having the common link of loving travel. Plus, it’s always fun to trade funny travel stories!

If you’re not traveling, it’s equally easy to meet new people! Start volunteering for a cause that you believe in. Ask that funny coworker of yours out for a drink. Join a Meet Up group that interests you.

10. Always appreciate the simple things in life.

Couple walking in a mosque in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

We’ve been together for nearly 5 years and we still feel as in love and happy as the first day we met. If you were to ask either one of us why our relationship is so successful, we would probably have the same answer: we both appreciate the simple things in life, and we always express our gratitude to each other.

Traveling has only amplified our appreciation of the simple things in life. An evening stroll. A leisurely Sunday morning. A delicious ice cream cone. We try to always remember that none of these things are a given. Every day is a gift and we never want to take that for granted.

11. Volunteer your time.

Volunteer Certificate for teaching English abroad

Volunteering is the single most meaningful thing that we have done since we started traveling. It’s also the thing that took the most research, work, and planning. It’s really hard to find a volunteer program that works for you!

However, putting the work in to find the right program and then subsequently volunteering your time is so worth it. We felt so emotionally fulfilled after spending an entire week teaching English to wonderful adults from the Czech Republic.

Not only did we get to give back, but we also met some incredible travelers from around the world. These are people that we will always remember for the rest of our lives. Not to sound too cheesy, but we truly cherish the week that we spent together.

Final Thoughts

Jack and Gab Explore | Standing in The Cloud art installation in Tirana, Albania

Ultimately, happiness in life and in travel comes down to priorities. We’ve found that by prioritizing the things that energize us and giving ourselves enough down time to recharge and reset, it’s amazing the things we’re are capable of.

Our physical and mental health, the strength of our relationship, and maintaining close bonds with family and friends will always be top priority for us. It’s only when we’ve satisfied those requirements that we look for opportunities help others, challenge ourselves, and grow as individuals.

Our goal for this post is to share some of the insights we’ve learned from traveling in the hopes that it helps you–whether you are at home or on the road. We are always striving to learn more. Please let us know in the comments: How do you maintain your health and happiness, while traveling or while at home?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

11 Ways We Stay Happy, Healthy & Fit While Traveling

 

 

 

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