Life on the road although incredible can be tough. Here are some tips for coping mechanisms while on your program.

If you are contemplating signing up for a program or you’re getting ready to head out on a program, you might be thinking, how in the world am I going to travel FULL TIME with a group of strangers for one to three months of my life?! Further to that, I won’t have my special pillow, my lunchtime latte, or my regular football lessons and I guess my sleep-ins will go out the window. My life will be in a duffel bag, I’ll be in a new place every other day and the time zone is totally whacky. I’ll be out on expeditions without my phone, I have to decide which shirts to take - oh, and the food! I don’t even know what people eat for dinner over there, I’m not very good with spice, or going on long hikes… ARGH! We feel you and don’t worry!

First of all, this isn’t boot camp! It's a learning journey that allows you to travel the world and discover who you are. We are here to extend the opportunity for you to learn, grow and connect. That’s the big picture. We want to share a few lessons from the road with you on how to cope whilst out there on a program in the big wide world. The following tips are a compilation from 25 years in operation, hundreds of guru instructors and 3000 alumni students. So, listen up! We’ve gotten through it (and loved it), and it’s totally worth the effort and pulling yourself out of your current (slightly cozy) lifestyle! We are here to ensure you are positively challenged, and we are absolutely committed to supporting you the entire way through the experience.

There will be two relatable and experienced program instructors meeting you the moment you touch down in the country, and a group of 12(ish) other students who are in the same boat as you. But before you even arrive, there are a few things you can do to support yourself.

1. Mental Shift 

So, here’s the trick. Visualize yourself having a great time. Let the worries melt away. It’s genuinely powerful. See yourself at the airport meeting the group; after a few awkward moments, you start to make connections and burst out in shared laughter. You are all full of curiosity. Picture yourself having the best fun time with a group of friends, walking through a new place, with vibrant smells, wacky plants, and strange money. Being thousands of miles from home is like a blank slate, you can meet new people, ask open questions, and see the world with fresh eyes. These programs are designed to be a marathon rather than a sprint. There will be moments of elation, moments of intense rest, moments of frustration, and moments of awe. Bring yourself to the party. Settle in. You’ve got this. 

2. Know What Grounds You 

What does your self-care look like? Grab a pen or open your phone notes to write down how you meet your individual needs in your everyday life. Depending on the type of person you are, this will look different. Is it listening to music on a park bench? Is it doing a guided meditation in a quiet room? Is it speaking with a bunch of friends on a group chat? While reading this you might feel quite self-assured in your self-care techniques, but on a program you might need some personal reminders to revisit what soothes you. Even though your everyday life will look different on a program, you are able to build in some of those grounding techniques. It feels good to feel calm, and we are able to learn more in this space. 

3. Packing Considerations

Take what the packing list suggests. All of those practical things, the quick dry undies etc. But just have a think about an item that connects you with home. Something small that has sentimental value is a wonderful addition to a long haul trip. With a touch, it can transport you to the warm embrace of home or a special person in your life. It’s also a really lovely thing to show people you meet on the road, like homestay families or other group members. An item might come to mind immediately, or perhaps you give intentional meaning to something like a piece of jewelry or a photo.

4. Goal Setting

Pacific Discovery will reach out and ask you to write some goals for yourself whilst on program. These are great to check in with yourself throughout the program. Because of the nature of these big trips, there are ups and downs, and we sometimes need a talking to from our past selves. By clearly defining those big-picture intentions that you have for yourself at the outset, it supports your resilience in the face of challenge. Sometimes, the challenges don’t seem so grand. Maybe you’re feeling tired after six days of hiking on the Annapurna Circuit. Revisit your goals; perhaps one of them is to learn something new every day. This minor change in mindset is oftentimes the fire that you need to alter your experience and embrace the challenges presented.

Okay, now you’re on the road! There are a few basics that we all get bombarded with regularly in life, because they are genuinely a really big deal.

5. Sleep 

Try not to burn the candle at both ends! Staying up late with your group mates is so enticing as you will often be sleeping in shared spaces. And then the alarm will be set early to do something fun like a sunrise surf, a jungle hike, or an adventure to a new place. So sometimes, you find yourself really pushing it with sleep. It’s all well and good to get five hours for a few days, but it’s just not sustainable on a long program! Fantastic advice is to look at the clock, work out how much sleep you need, what your habits look like, and plan the hours. Bring your fave pajamas, a nice comfy sleeping mask and some earplugs, and get passionate about good sleep! 

6. Healthy Systems 

You guessed it. Drink lots of water, less caffeine and lots of greens. It goes a long way on a program; your body is already in a new environment and going through invisible stresses around adaptation to new foods and routines. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to nourish our bodies with wholesome food and habits. 

7. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the grounding tactic we were talking about earlier. Whatever it takes to bring you to the present moment. Our instructors will share their mindfulness habits, and perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to have a yoga instructor in the group! Regardless, there are so many outlets for mindfulness that exist in our tech world, with meditation apps, Wim Hof breathing lessons, and gratefulness podcasts. Whenever you’re having a bad day, blaming the people around you, or sending off those toxic vibes (we all know the feeling), that’s the moment to take responsibility and dive into mindfulness techniques. After all, we’re just human.

8. Connection with Home and Social Media 

This one is all about finding balance. The key is being present on the program, but maintaining healthy relationships with the people at home. At the beginning of the program, it’s a good rule of thumb not to have constant connectivity with friends and families. It’s like breaking a habit so that you are able to completely bring yourself to the program, including your digital identity. On the program, we limit technology by not having phones at dinner or during shared workshops. But really, this one is up to you. It’s worth having a technology goal, envisioning what you want your relationship with the phone to look like. We have found that limiting social media to a minimum or only to a certain time of the day benefits the program experience because there is always lots of time in the future in classrooms or nights at home to look at and share photos from your epic adventure! Your future self will appreciate you immersing in the program, rather than seeing the program through your screen!

The other consideration is for those who are really, really good at ignoring the phone. We invite you to aim for a conservation with family at least every week or two to keep them updated on your life escapades. They will appreciate it!

9. Big Picture Thinking 

To close out our tips and tricks for life on the road, we just want to bring it back to the basics. We are all out there in the world, reading this blog post and then moving forth onto some other trajectory. The magic of a Pacific Discovery program is that you come together with a small group of people in a momentary shared trajectory to experience an immersive overland program. It’s raw and real and sometimes challenging, and the opportunities are endless. Students message us years after programs letting us know what a huge impact the program has played in their lives and choices. Embrace your abundance mindset, bring the good vibes, ask the big questions and make the most of each moment. 

If you haven't already booked on one of our programs, check out all of our upcoming programs here!



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Author Orla O'Muiri Posted

Category Gap Year Planning Departure Spring 2023