It’s easy to get consumed by travel. Often we don’t know when or if we’ll be able to return to these locales so we pack our itineraries full of activities, designing schedules more hectic than the daily lives we’re escaping from. By creating spaces that affirm ourselves as sacred, we are encouraged to treat ourselves with more care.

A woman sits on a yellow towel on a hill overlooking a large city on the coast; sacred spaces
Finding your center among an onslaught of new can be challenging, but you can create practices to make your travels even more meaningful © Petri Oeschger / Getty Images

Sacred means something different to everyone and the space you create for yourself while traveling will be similarly unique. To begin, think of exercises, objects, or routines that help you feel supported and safe. This could range from a comfortable body pillow to a morning journal practice or a weekly yoga class. Consider which of your self-care practices would be easiest to pack on your next vacation.

Finding a sacred space within yourself 

You never need anything outside of yourself to find peace, so don’t fret if your luggage is full and you can’t pack your favorite stress ball. Most of us have daily maintenance practices that whether or not we realize it, provide us with a sense of grounding. This could be as simple as a hot shower to start or end your day.

A woman walks over an arched wall with a walled city behind her; sacred spaces
Something as simple as an early morning walk can lead you back to a safe inner space © Andrii Lutsyk / Getty Images

If you’re traveling with a group and needing some time alone, excuse yourself for a walk and do some people watching. Listening to your favorite podcast or playlist can be a great way to clear your mind. Find a cozy cafe and journal about your trip so far, including any frustrations. If you can’t easily slip away, shut yourself in a room (or close your hostel curtain) to take a nap or read.

Bring self-care practices on vacation

If you have regular self-care practices that you’re committed to at home, see if you can mimic a version of them while away. Self-care goes one step further than maintenance activities. It’s time that’s been intentionally set aside for activities that restore you to the best version of yourself. It could be a massage, workout routine, face mask, time spent outdoors, or anything else that uplifts your spirit. 

A woman wears a grey towel on her head with a yellow face mask; her eyes are closed as she creates a sacred space
In the evening take a moment to apply a mask and meditate while it does its magic @ Felixhug / Getty Images

Some people use their bedtime routine as an excuse to pamper themselves and prioritize skincare. Adapting some version of your regular beauty routine can be replenishing at the end of a busy day of sightseeing. Sheet masks are affordable and can be found at drug stores all over the world. They also require that you sit still for 10-20 minutes while the ingredients penetrate your skin, which you can use to meditate on your experiences so far. 

Mood-boosting endorphins are released during exercise and many people find relaxation in their workout routines. Continue running or walking routines if you have an established practice at home. Research gyms and yoga studios where you’re staying and see if any offer free or discounted memberships for potential members to test-drive their facilities. 

A man jogs up a small hill in Rome; sacred space
From yoga to a maintaining your jogging routine, you can bring your self-care practices on your travels @ GoodLifeStudio / Getty Images

If you’re heading somewhere without access to a gym or workout equipment, consider bringing a yoga mat that travels well in a suitcase. Search YouTube for your preferred workout or make up your own sequence. It might be unrealistic to keep your regular routine, but setting aside some time to do the activities that shape your days at home can provide a sense of comfort.

Items to help create a sacred space 

Consider bringing sentimental items from your home that can be stowed away in your carryon or pocket to act as touchstones when you get overwhelmed. Crystals are beautiful objects that can be used for this purpose. Different stones are ascribed specific properties based on how they were used by ancient cultures. For example, the Ancient Greeks made their drinking gourds out of amethyst, believing that the gem would ward off drunkenness and restore clarity of mind. 

A woman with her legs crossed holds an amethyst crystal on her lap; sacred spaces
Find a crystal or a small token that you can touch to remind you of your sacred space @ Mint Images / Getty Images

Nowadays, amethyst is adored for its gorgeous violet exterior as well as its calming qualities. Think about the kind of support that you need during your trip and purchase small stones that are believed to have those traits. Even if you don’t buy in to the metaphysical properties of crystals, simply assigning it a meaning and deciding to touch it or hold it when you’re in need of that support can be a powerful practice. 

Other small sacred items could include a wallet-sized photo of a close family member, your favorite scented candle, or a lucky dollar or coin. If nothing comes to mind, you can use this as an excuse to purchase temporary souvenirs like a bouquet of flowers or incense from a local market.

Crystals and incense sit on a small table with a woman meditating in the background; sacred spaces
Create a small altar with things from home or purchased locally © Bambu Productions / Getty Images

Take it one step further and arrange a few of these items as an altar in your home away from home. If you’re short on space, window sills are a great option for small and sacred displays. Once again, you can decide what sort of feelings you want your altar to evoke and spend time in that place when you’re in need of encouragement. Committing to spend 5-10 minutes a day at your makeshift altar can be a great way to process your travels and any lessons you’ve learned along the way. 

Bring your most sacred moments home

Often during travel we experience moments that seem to exist outside of space and time, that immediately crystallize in our memories. Perhaps it’s a moment of awe as you take in an expansive landscape or the excitement of getting lost in the commotion of everyday life in a new city. 

This is what makes souvenirs so meaningful, their ability to instantly transport us to a different time and place. If you find yourself resonating with a particular destination, you might want to take this altar practice home with you. Decorate it with souvenirs to remind yourself of the impact a specific place had on you. 

Travel exposes us to histories, cultures, people, and places outside of our own, helping us expand our perspectives and grow. With so much to discover, we can easily become hurried, rushing from place to place without truly taking it in. Creating a sacred space, whether it’s within yourself or an object or activity that evokes this feeling, helps us process these new environments.

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