Emotional Challenges and How to Stay Positive on Tour

May 28th, 2019

Managing your emotions can be the hardest, and most important, part of any travel experience. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when things go wrong. Beautiful scenery, a stiff tailwind, and blue skies sometimes can’t make up for the storm cloud in your mind. But that’s when you need positivity the most. 

Your attitude flavors everything.

Remember, the challenges of a bicycle tour are temporary. And looking for that silver lining isn’t just a travel skill, it’s a life skill, too.

Here are a few ideas to lift your spirits, even on the toughest travel days.

Problem: Homesickness

For some of us, being away from home for a week feels like a very long time. You may begin to miss your spouse, pets, children, or the comfort of your own bed. 

Solution: Connection

Notice the landscape you’re traveling through. Try to be present for your own experience, instead of stuck in your head thinking about home.

Call, text, or video chat with your loved ones. Once you know everyone back home is healthy and happy, you may feel more at ease to enjoy your adventure. 

Remember why you wanted to try bicycle touring. Be proud that you made it this far in your adventure!

Problem: Depression & Anxiety

Most cyclists with a history of depression and anxiety actually experience a relief of their symptoms while cycling; frequent exercise and time spent in nature help to keep our minds healthy. 

However, on particularly challenging days, you may feel your symptoms spike. 

Solution: Mindfulness

Stop and eat a snack. Sometimes low blood pressure is the culprit of your sudden dip in morale. Hangry is a real terrible state of being. 

Take a deep breath. Feel your lungs fill with air and empty. Breathing exercises are proven to help reduce our stress response.

Stoping to snack while bike touring photo by Saara Snow
A delicious snack is often all you need to lift your spirits.
Saara Snow 

Pay attention to the present moment instead of what’s happening inside your head. 

Think about someone you love or an activity you’re looking forward to. Allow yourself to daydream about positive experiences.

Problem: Loneliness

Especially on solo adventures, loneliness can creep into our emotions. It can be a distracting and painful feeling, causing us to resent the bicycle tour instead of enjoying it. 

Solution: Friendship

Call your loved ones and confess how you feel. They will probably be very supportive. 

Arrange to stay in a hostel or with Warmshowers hosts, rather than alone. You can also buy a “family size” package of cookies and offer them to fellow campers. Be brave and look for opportunities to connect with the people you meet, and you’ll start to feel less lonely. 

Making friends while camping by Tom Robertson
Campsites can be a great place to connect with other people and chase the loneliness blues away. 
Tom Robertson

Problem: Boredom

There might be stretches of your bike tour that don’t inspire you. Long, flat, windy routes can be monotonous. But with some creativity, you can help yourself enjoy the miles.  

Solution: Learn and Play

Listening to podcasts, music, or audio books is a common pastime for many touring cyclists. You can wear one earbud at a time, to stay aware of your surroundings. 

Playing games with fellow riders can be fun! There’s plenty of “roadtrip” car-based games that translate to bicycle touring. 

Get creative! You can sing, memorize poetry, stop to take more photographs, or challenge yourself to name every shade of blue in the sky. Before you know it, you’ll be through the doldrums and entering new, exciting territory.

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