Creating New Rituals for Healthy Travel at Midlife

by | Mar 21, 2023

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Last updated on November 30th, 2023

Lead image: Healthy rituals can travel with us anywhere / Photo credit levinajuli on Envato

Eight new wellness rituals for future travel

By Carolyn Ray, Editor, JourneyWoman

Returning to Toronto after almost four months overseas was about more than just coming home. I saw it as an opportunity to restart my wellness journey. While I loved every moment of my time away, along the way, I lost the habits, or rituals, I had put into place to stay heathy before I left home.  I want to develop new wellness rituals that I can take with me anywhere I go, so that I’m healthy and fit to travel well into the future.

One might think that my four months in Europe were a holiday — they were not. Although I adopted a different schedule, the amount of work didn’t slow down, it only accelerated with the return to travel.

We still published articles every week, hosted events, and had team calls. Everywhere I went, I was writing, cataloguing places to stay and eat, and noting changes in the travel experience. During the day, I would explore – visit museums, go the markets and take local tours. In the evenings, I often worked until 2 a.m. in the morning, writing, doing calls, hosting Community Calls and our Holiday Social, which ended at 3 a.m. CET.

In other words, although I was feeding my soul with curiosity and connection, I didn’t make my physical health and wellness a priority. When I returned home, I was tired, worn out and felt stiff and inflexible. So many aches and pains! That had to change.

Creating new wellness rituals

Within one day of arriving home, I started creating new wellness rituals that would integrate into my daily routine so that I could take them with me on my next trip. I purchased a silver Oura ring to measure heart rate, oxygen levels, temperature, sleep patterns and activity. The Oura ring told me that sleep was not an issue (about 7 hours a night) but my activity levels were too low. I also bought a Renpho digital scale to benchmark my progress, which feeds into an app on my phone. Lastly, I got a blood test to measure my iron levels and rule out any health concerns. (And, relatedly, confirmed my annual mammogram and ultrasound appointment – critical for women).

1. Focus on fitness

Although I hiked and walked a lot in Spain, I didn’t actually go to a gym. This is an area of my life where I lack discipline. My previous trainer had suggested an app called Sweat, and while I downloaded it, I didn’t actually use it. Nor did I use the stretch bands I had brought.

I did gain some weight enjoying all those Spanish delicacies, but more importantly, I felt the need to improve my overall fitness, particularly my flexibility and strength.  I joined a nearby yoga studio and signed up for three months. I committed to myself that I would go at least three times a week and splurged on a new Manduka yoga mat to back up my intention.

To help lock this behaviour in and reward myself, I’ve designed a few wellness rituals that are bringing a lot of joy to this experience.


Carolyn Ray stands with her arms up in Seville, Spain

In Girona, Spain: Walking every day is a start but not enough / Photo credit Carolyn Ray

Wellness Ritual 1: In Europe, I went to classical music concerts in Prague and Vienna. It made me realize how much I love music.  Now, I listen to rock music as I walk to my yoga studio on my airpod headphones and classical music on the way back. This lifts my spirits and makes me so happy.

Wellness Ritual 2: As soon as I get home, I brew a pot of green tea and give myself time to enjoy that post-yoga glow.  Until I discovered afternoon tea in Bath, UK, I didn’t really like tea, but now I treasure it.

It has been a month so far, and I’m actually going to yoga four times a week, and loving it. I plan to return to the gym soon and focus on my cardio and strength. One step at a time!

Visiting Quebec City is like being in Europe (but in Canada) / Photo from Envato

2. Reset at a Wellness Retreat

We have hundreds of incredible travel experiences designed just for women in our Women’s Travel Directory.  But when I saw Tania Carriere’s May retreat on ‘Spring Awake” in Quebec City, I knew it was just what I needed to restore my energy and my focus. What needs to be packed away, what needs to be dusted off?

Tania says: “As a coach I encourage people to lean into their dreams and it was important that I did the same. I wanted to open up my passion for the epiphanies that travel and retreats has always given me to others.”

To get started, I joined her “What Would Helen Mirren Do” virtual field trip this month to get a preview of what the experience would be like at her Quebec City retreat. We talked about women we admire and call rebels, and then about ‘the rules’ – the ‘should do’s’ and ‘have to’s – that stop us from being our best selves. “Who made those rules?” she asked. “And who’s upholding them – you? What cause are you willing to be a rebel for? And what are you willing to rebel against to achieve your purpose?”  This made me stop and think. I encourage you to ask yourself those questions — the world needs us to set our own rules to create positive change!

Wellness ritual 3: As much as I love celebrities like Angelina Jolie, the most inspiring women I know are real women in my life.  Find them in places like our Solo Travel Wisdom group, which now has over 7,000 women sharing wisdom every day. Send a message with a question, offer a compliment, meet up locally or join one of our many zoom calls to get to know each other.  

Tania says: “Women are stepping in a whole new dialogue with themselves and one another. They seem to be more engaged in re-imagining themselves (often several times) throughout the second half of their lives, and they want to do it in the company of and with the wisdom from other women. I see women travelling solo like never before and have many 80-year-olds showing up on retreat ready to defy an outdated notions of what aging is. Their well-being has shifted from the tiring and non-rewarding state of trying to find “balance” to a more enlivened and creative state of being in discovery and awe.”

Wellness ritual 4: Make the time for you. So many of us are rushing and busy and supporting others. When we travel solo (even if it’s near home) we are able to really put ourselves in the centre of our planning, observe who we are, what our wants and whims are and allow ourselves to discover who we’ve grown into when we weren’t even looking! If you can’t come on retreat, then at least travel with a journal full of self-discovery prompts and entertain a new question every day. For over 10 years, I’ve used “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, which includes the rituals of morning pages (writing free flow) and taking yourself on an artists’ date. This can an excursion or play date anywhere in your own city that gives you joy.   

I’m looking forward to Tania’s retreat because I think that by giving myself space and changing the environment around me, I can step away from the day to day stress and open up new perspectives, cultures and  patterns. I’m excited to be surrounded by others who are willing to be as bold as I am, and become champions in my life.

Note: Tania has a few spots still available if you’d like to join us from May 4-7 in Quebec City. You can learn more here. She’s also offering JourneyWoman readers a special 1.5 hour post-event field trip on Zoom to reconnect, deepen take aways and introduce a new ritual, so make sure you mention that. Tania also hosted our February Community Call, which you can watch here.

3. Focus on nutrition and self-care

We’re fortunate to have wellness expert and Board certified coach Shawna Robins on our JourneyWoman Women’s Advisory Council. Not only is Shawna an expert in sleep and nutrition, she also believes that there is a connection between your mind and body – that we often manifest our feelings in our bodies which can affect our health.

“Self care is not always bubble baths or pedicures,” Robins says. “It is being consistently committed to putting your health on the top of your priority list. This means eating real, whole food (not pre packaged junk food), exercising  every day, spending time with friends, putting yourself to bed the same way you would for a child or grandchild. Showing yourself love, affection and respect. Learning to say no without beating yourself up with guilt or shame. Learning to receive joy and freedom. Being kind to yourself. Following your intuition. These are all forms of radical self care.”

Wellness Ritual 5: My weekly coaching sessions with Shawna have shown me that I’m still holding on to some grief about my dad’s sudden passing from melanoma in 2020. I’ve always loved owls, so last summer, I tattooed an owl on my arm in his memory, accompanied by Athena, the goddess of wisdom, to remind me to be bold and courageous. While this is a constant reminder, Shawna suggested I touch my arm and ask myself what I need to feel nourished. I love that.

Wellness Ritual 6:  One of my aha moments with her happened recently, when we talked about my fibroids, which have caused very heavy bleeding for the past several years, creating stress and anxiety. What if, she asked, there is an emotional connection to this chronic health issue? On every call, she asks me about the good things that have happened over the past week. She’s suggested I keep a gratitude journal to help me reflect on positivity and appreciate them in a deeper way.

My Athena and Owl tattoo is a reminder of the importance of wisdom  / Photo credit Carolyn Ray
woman in hammock with laptop
If only we could work in a hammock! /Photo from Envato

Wellness Ritual 7: While I am taking iron supplements, I often forget to bring other vitamins with me when I travel. Shawna suggested that I buy a pill box and bring my protein powder so that I can stir it into a smoothie for breakfast. I’m trying this out on my trip to Banff.

Wellness Ritual 8:  Another not-so-good habit I have is to sit for hours at my desk, writing and doing zoom calls. Although I love what I do, my to-do list never seems to get shorter, and I’m often overwhelmed by my tasks. To help me approach my list with energy and passion, Shawna suggested that I create a new ritual BEFORE I sit down. What did I decide? Dancing! I’ve created a new playlist (culled from our JourneyWoman playlist) and now spend 10 minutes dancing before I sit down at that table.

What wellness rituals are you building into your life, one day at a time, so that you’re ready for future travel? I’d love to hear them!

More on Wellness and Travel

As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


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