While travelling you are probably posting pictures of yourself running on the beach, learning to surf, plane hopping, and partying with all your new friends. The trouble with being a backpacker is that everyone only gets to see the good stuff. You’re not going to post a photo of you eating dinner alone in the hostel, or your reaction when you realize you’ve been pickpocketed. It’s important to make sure you are okay and taking care of yourself while you’re on your own having all these amazing yet testing experiences. Sometimes you just need to get away and clear your head. It's important to always listen to yourself and take a break to make sure you are happy and healthy. In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we have compiled a list of the some of the best head clearing activities. Just trying one of these activities once will put things into perspective and really help clear the mind which is needed more often than not when you’re being hit with a sensory overload on the regular from travelling.
1) Scenic Flight over the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth. When you stop and realize exactly what it is you are looking at and how lucky you are to be travelling, living, and experiencing things most can only dream of you will feel eternally grateful. Not to say that you aren't already grateful for all these amazing experiences, but it can be very easy to forget about the bigger picture when things go wrong.
2) Onsen Hot Pools
Sometimes mind clearing and returning to balance means pampering yourself a little. If you are lucky enough snag a booking at this place you will be transported into a world of relaxation as you enter your own private room with a private hot pool that opens up into the Shotover Canyon. Get there at night when it is really dark and experience the masses of stars that Queenstown is so lucky to experience because of its remoteness.
3) Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
There is something about entering these endless black caves sprinkled with only the tiny lights of the glow worms that makes you feel very small. The calming darkness of the caves is a great place to get away so you can focus your mind and appreciate this natural wonder.
4) Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Cablecar
When you’re feeling lost the only way to go is up. Hop on the Skyrail Cablecar in Cairns for a once in a lifetime, panoramic view of the rainforest. While you’re working your way up to the top of the forest you can reflect on what really matters. Take a moment in your little cable car to think about why you started travelling in the first place and what is going to matter to you in a years time.
Take a trek out into the desert to witness one of Australia's greatest natural wonders. Uluru is a massive sandstone rock right in the heart of the Red Centre. When you need to get away from it all head to Uluru at sunrise and watch it burst into a fiery red as the sun comes up. Grab a good book or your journal, find a quiet place alone, and reflect.
6) Rice Fields in Bali
The best time to visit the rice fields is during daylight hours around March so they are lush and glistening in the sun. These endless fields of green will leave you speechless as you roam around in the quiet, thick air. Get lost in this natural beauty that still manages to remain relatively under the radar and try to converse with the locals to get another perspective on daily life.
7) Rottnest Island
Just off the coast of Perth, you will find this little limestone island sprinkled with white sand beaches and shallow, crystal clear waters. The island is home to a number of rare wildlife and only has about 100 people inhabiting it. Solitude is often feared but can be extremely beneficial in times of need. Head over here and find a spot on the beach or jet out into the turquoise waters and find your zen.
8) Kawarau Bridge Bungy
There is something about the opaque turquoise Kawarau River that is very calming and exciting at the same time. Imagine all of your recent problems, worries, and awkward moments you keep beating yourself up about and use the jump as your ritual to let go of all of that.
Just because you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't mean it’s not there. Most will not openly talk about mental health issues, especially with people they have just met. Just one open, honest conversation could really help someone who is feeling alone and in need of a friend. Travelling is lonely enough as it is so us backpackers need to stick together. Sometimes the biggest risk of all throughout your travels is showing your vulnerable side when ultimately, that could be the key to feeling happier and more connected along the way.
*This article was originally written for Peterpans Adventure Travel, all opinions are my own.