Traveling used to be simple. Pack a cute swimsuit. Drink all the drinks. See all the sights. Stay up all night. Do it all again the next day. Go home. The Hot Goddess said it best when she described midlife travel.
Now that I’m perimenopausal, aaand now that my husband and I have decided to do these eight-week-overseas stays, traveling is a little different. My stress level rises much quicker, because, as I’ve written before, we reach a point when our sex hormones aren’t doing what they used to—stabilizing moods and helping with digestion. Consequently, there are a few things that I have to do, so we both have a good time:
Prepare Ahead of Time
Before I travel anywhere, whether it’s for eight weeks or two days, I make sure I have my supplements: Garden of Life probiotic, Mood Daily Care, to aid with digestion and stress and Alive Women’s Energy, a complete vitamin that includes all of the things, especially B12, which has been super helpful for metabolism.
I use the FitOn app for “no equipment” exercises. I use MBody Yoga because they have a reliable virtual schedule. I use the Brainwaves app for meditating with binaural beats, something I’ve found helpful for multiple needs (i.e., calming down, healing, etc.).
I also pack a pair of noise-canceling headphones cause you never know what type of distractions you’ll encounter. In Costa Rica, there was a rooster that cocka-doodle-dood from around three in the morning to three in the afternoon. In the Netherlands and Croatia, our apartments were the size of two dorm rooms; headphones came in handy when I didn’t want to hear my husband tell his coworkers to “put a pin in it.”
In the States, I have a strict regimen that keeps my stress level low. While traveling, it can be hard to maintain that structure because I don’t know what to expect day-to-day. For example, in the Netherlands, using a teeny-tiny, Barbie-like washing machine and waiting for clothes to air dry was overwhelming. By the time we went to Croatia, I knew to expect a doll-sized washer, so I created a new regimen—go to the laundromat once a week for a few hours. This helped me to take control of my own stress in a manageable way.
Find Food Supplements
Scoping out a grocery store is imperative within the first few days. This helps me to learn what foods are and are not a part of the culture. In Costa Rica, vegetables are scarce. Although fries and bread are a huge part of the Netherlands’ culture, I know my body shouldn’t have that every day, no matter how fresh and organic it is. Going to the grocery store shows me what produce is available. In Costa Rica, I had more fresh fruit, while in the Netherlands, arugula was a staple. Usually, each country has at least broccoli and lettuce, and that has been great for balancing food needs.
Curtail Eating Out
With shorter vacations, I think we allow ourselves to wild out when eating. It’s just a few days, right? Well, our trip to Panamȧ taught me a mindshift had to occur. Restaurant food looked so good, but constantly eating it landed me in bloatsville. In the Netherlands, they eat something called krokets (croquettes), which taste like fried stew. I could’ve had one every single day. But I didn’t. I had to ask myself is it worth the pregnant-belly look that is going to follow from having fried food every single day? The answer was no. My husband and I stuck to a rule we follow at home: we ate out only on the weekends.
Maintain a Sleep Schedule
When we visited Japan, it was extremely difficult for me to get on the country’s time zone, which was thirteen hours ahead. At one point, I think I’d been awake for over twenty-four hours. This made for a very cranky KG! I learned from that trip that it is imperative for me to sleep. It’s also important for our bodies, in general, so organs and hormones can do what they’re supposed to do while we rest. I now follow the advice I’d heard decades ago: try to be on the country’s time zone as soon as possible. For example, if it’s nighttime when you arrive, then go to bed; if it’s daytime, then stay up and go about your day. So far, this has worked. In Europe, I wake up around nine in the morning and go to bed at midnight. Again, sleep helps your body to be well.
You guys know me. I’m not gonna pretend everything has been rainbows and unicorns while in Europe just because I do a down dog and pop a supplement. It has not. I had a mini meltdown at the Zagreb bank when the teller said she couldn’t give me two one-hundred kuna for the two-hundred kuna bill I was holding, which meant I had to figure out how to find change to use the laundromat, while dragging a suitcase full of dirty clothes through downtown. But that, in addition to other moments, is when I figured out I had to have the above-mentioned things in place all the time. Meaning, I can’t just incorporate exercise but forget to take my supplements or eat waffles three days in a row. Otherwise, I would always be on the precipice of a slow decline, ready to lose it at any moment.
Perimenopause has shown me that there are a lot of ways we stress our bodies when we’re younger. Decades ago, our systems were always working hard to re-balance bodies. We relied on bodily systems to do this without even recognizing it. But what happens when our systems get tired and old and can’t do it anymore? Welp. We have to unlearn bad habits (i.e., lack of sleep, eating on the go, etc.), and re-learn new ways of living. Perimenopause is a great time to learn to be balanced as much as possible in order to be healthy and whole, maybe not just on vacation so you can have fun, but also in our daily lives, so we can live a full life.