- Pack one item as your ‘security blanket’. I use the fleece from inside my travel jacket. I unzip it, use it as a sweater, scarf, small blanket, roll it up and use it as a pillow, wrap myself in it. Because I’ve assigned it the function of ‘security blanket’, every time I see it, pack it, wear it…I feel comforted. Find out what works for you!
- Have a workout up your sleeve. Prepare it before leaving. Learn a sequence of yoga poses or other exercises that you like and that make you feel empowered. When we’re going through culture shock, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the wealth of new cultural information we’re absorbing. Adding a quick empowering workout to our day can make a big difference! Key: focus on workouts that don’t require props and you can do anywhere!
- Pack something soothing. Audio meditation? Music? Book? There are the odd moments when we really need something familiar to relieve some of the stress that comes with everything being new.
- Compartmentalize. Use packing cubes to organize your luggage. Multiple benefits: helps you focus; when everything else feels confusing, you know you can find your own things in a heartbeat – a reassuring feeling; you can use it as a way to center yourself – when everything else feels overwhelming or out of your control, a clean organized space can make you feel in charge and bring you back to yourself.
- Earplugs. Noise levels vary and your sensitivity to them might too when you’re dealing with culture shock. Pack some ear plugs to help you keep calm.
- Phrase book/pocket dictionary/app. Knowing a few words and phrases will help you feel more at ease and confident. If you have time, take a class. Learning a new language is a terrific way of getting an insight into another culture!