morning routine while traveling
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How to Stick to Your Morning Routine While Traveling

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I recently went on a 10-day trip to Spain to explore some areas that I might want to move to someday, and along with researching towns and expat communities, I also spent a little time doing something else…figuring out how I could keep up with my morning routine while traveling. Now before you roll your eyes and exclaim that vacations are about sleeping late and leaving everything about home behind, read on to see if your next trip might actually be better if you bring along at least part of your morning routine.

Whether we’re traveling for work or for fun, a trip away from home disrupts our daily lives, and often with it, the consistency of our morning routines. The power of these routines can be underestimated, especially if we’ve been at them for a while. They’re a blend of self-care, self-connection, and grounding rituals that keep us balanced. When we travel, the change in environment, time zones, and schedules can throw us off that balance. Maintaining even a semblance of our morning routine while traveling can help offset those disruptions and even make us better, more resilient travelers.

Staying Grounded on the Go

Morning routines are more than a set of habitual actions; they are a ritual that signals to our brain that the day has begun, setting a tone of positivity and stability. This is particularly important when traveling, as we encounter unfamiliar environments that can be disorienting. Ever wake up in a hotel and not know where you even are for a minutes? Me too. A morning routine serves as a personal touchstone amidst all the newness and novelty. It tells your brain “Don’t worry, we’ve got this day.”

Show Me the Science

From a scientific perspective, maintaining a routine can significantly reduce your travel stress levels. The predictability of a routine can decrease the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol, which are known to peak in the morning hours. Starting your day with your regular morning routine can instill a sense of calm so that later in the day, when you perhaps purchase a train ticket to the wrong destination, you’re less likely to lose your cool with the ticket agent who keeps telling you “no refunds or exchanges.”

morning routine while traveling

And believe it or not, a morning routine can bolster resilience. According to research published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, having a set routine can enhance one’s ability to cope with the stress of travel and time zone changes, potentially mitigating the effects of jet lag and travel fatigue. As someone who has felt absolutely sucker punched by jet lag, I’m down to try anything to help make it better.

In terms of focus and mood, several studies have found that self-control, willpower, and cognitive resources are typically at their peak during the morning. Engaging in a morning routine can channel these resources into a productive start, laying the groundwork for a day spent with enhanced concentration and a positive outlook. Finishing your morning routine right before you map out the day’s itinerary might actually help make that process a little bit easier.

That’s why maintaining your morning routine while traveling is not just a nod to your preferences, but an evidence-backed practice that can yield tangible benefits for your mental and physical health. It anchors you in familiarity, harnesses your cognitive resources at their peak, and sets a positive, productive tone for the day, no matter where in the world you find yourself. And that kind of mood boost makes any trip a more enjoyable one.

Adapting Your Routine for the Road

Now taking your morning routine on the road isn’t just a copy/paste job. You’ll need to think about what’s practical, what matters most to you about your routine, and what you can reasonably accomplish while still enjoying your trip. Here are some simple steps to follow, and examples of how I adapted my own routine for my recent trip.

1. Simplify and Prioritize

First, take a moment to distill your morning routine to its essence. What are the non-negotiables? Is it the meditation session that centers your mind, the run that sends endorphins coursing through your veins, or perhaps the simple joy of a cup of coffee brewed just so? Identifying these core elements allows you to understand what you truly need to start your day right, regardless of where you wake up. Once you have your must-do list, recognize what you can feasibly maintain while traveling and what might need a little adjustment.

Keep in mind that your morning routine should never feel like a chore, and that’s especially true when you’re traveling. Make sure the travel version of your morning routine is still enjoyable and something you look forward to. This positive association makes it more likely that you’ll stick with it. If you’re paring down your routine, keep your absolute favorite parts of it intact.

My regular routine lasts about 45 minutes, and that felt like too much for this trip. I figured I could commit to a 5-minute meditation, a 5-minute micro-journal session, and 7-10 minutes of stretching. And of course, coffee first!

2. Pack Smart

morning routine while traveling

Bring travel-sized items that are essential to your routine. This could include a lightweight travel yoga mat, resistance bands, a portable French press, or mini containers for your skincare products. These small conveniences can make a big difference in maintaining your routine.

For this trip, I packed my mala beads and a small, scented tea light for meditating, my 5-year micro journal, and my yoga gloves (I need stability!) and yoga strap for my stretch session. I figured I could use a couple of hotel towels as a makeshift yoga mat. These items didn’t take up much space in my luggage, so I felt zero stress about including them.

3. Lean Into Technology

This one’s a no-brainer, but technology can really help you keep your routine intact. Use apps for meditation, workout routines, or even to find local cafes that fit your morning coffee ritual. E-books and audiobooks can also maintain your reading habit on the go.

Before I left I made sure to download some short meditations and a few of my favorite morning playlists in case I was ever in a hotel with spotty wi-fi. I also downloaded this app that has some great stretching routines. I figured it might come in handy if I wanted to address any travel aches and pains that my sun salutations weren’t helping.

4. Plan Ahead

Research your destination to see how you can incorporate your routine. Look for accommodations with amenities like a gym or kitchenette. Check out local parks or running routes if outdoor exercise is part of your morning. Planning ahead ensures you have the resources to maintain your routine upon arrival.

I definitely spent some time scoping out all of my stays. You’d be surprised how many hotels and AirBnbs have yoga mats these days. I also checked for in-room coffee makers since that is the first step in my routine that I can never give up! I made sure to pack some travel pouches of my favorite collagen supplement for my morning coffee as well.

5. Incorporate Local Culture

morning routine while traveling

Bringing your morning routine from home doesn’t mean you can’t give it a touch of your new destination.  Embrace local traditions and foods to enrich your routine. If you enjoy a morning walk, explore the neighborhood where you’re staying. Try local breakfast options instead of sticking strictly to what you’re used to. This can make maintaining your routine not just a comforting practice, but also an exciting part of your travel experience.

This is one of my favorite tips. At each hotel I checked into, I asked the front desk to recommend a short morning walking route that might be a little off the beaten path. Once I finished my stretches, it was easy to pop out for a morning walk and feel like I was already exploring the town and seeing some things I might not find in a guide book.

7. Share Your Routine

If you’re traveling with others, share aspects of your routine with them. It could be a morning workout together, a shared breakfast, or a quiet coffee ritual. This not only helps you maintain your routine but can also enhance your travel experience with shared moments.

I generally keep my morning routine all to myself, but I was traveling with my partner for this trip and didn’t want to exclude him from my entire morning. While I still needed some quiet time to myself, I did invite him on my morning walks, and it was a great time for us to connect and scope out our surroundings as we planned for our day ahead.

7. Be Flexible

Flexibility is key when traveling. Be willing to adapt your routine to fit your new environment. Maybe your full workout routine becomes a shorter bodyweight exercise, or your leisurely morning reading is condensed into a quick podcast session. The goal is to maintain the essence of your routine, even if it’s in a modified form.

It’s also important to remember that if you miss your routine one morning, it’s really no big deal. A successful morning routine habit is more about consistency over time, not a daily rigid requirement. So sleep late, say yes to the early morning boat tour, or set out early to be the first in line at the museum. Your routine will be there tomorrow.

The Travel Takeaway

Traveling doesn’t have to mean leaving behind the routines that ground us. With some planning, flexibility, and creativity, you can take your morning routine on the road, transforming it into a portable practice that enhances your travel experience rather than hinders it. The essence of maintaining your morning routine while traveling isn’t in replicating every detail but in preserving the sense of self and serenity it provides. It’s about starting each day with a familiar touchstone, even as we embrace the adventure and unpredictability of travel.

When travel disrupts your sense of normalcy, consider your morning routine not as a rigid set of tasks but as a portable sanctuary, adaptable yet profoundly comforting. It’s a small pocket of routine amidst all the new experiences of travel, a reminder of home and self-connection when you’re deep in the new and unfamiliar. So, pack your routine along with your essentials, and let it be a companion that brings comfort, joy, and balance to your travels.

Have you taken your morning routine on the go? Let me know in the comments below!

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12 Comments

  1. Oh thank you! It’s so difficult to maintain your morning routine on vacations. Especially when traveling with other families and our dog. Your right simplify and prioritize-sometimes we can skip through what we’ normally’ do and it really is ok. Great post! I look forward to your next one!

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