Ministry friends, sometimes we get the opportunity to travel for continuing ed. and such. For example, we recently took our youth to an AWESOME and amazing youth conference called Strength to Stand. I love being able to do things like this with our students. It’s a few days of little sleep, lots of junk food, and amazing fellowship and growing deeper in relationship with each other and with Jesus. After that trip, I got home and was home for a total of 3 days before traveling for a denominational conference. Trust me when I say that I am NOT complaining. The tricky thing is that as soon as I stepped foot at my 2nd trip destination, I could feel it creeping up: congestion, coughing, exhaustion, and so on. That run down feeling and start of getting sick. I just want to give some tips for what I have learned/am learning.
When traveling to a conference, it’s a lot of socializing and making new friends and so much fun. However, we need to make time for intentional rest. It is OK if you don’t make it to every single session. Look at what is being offered. Decide what is most important. Feel free to skip the ones that don’t mean anything or as much – go take a nap. Get a pedicure. RELAX!
My first conference circuit happened while I was in seminary. I attended KidMin one week and the D6 Conference the next. On top of that, I was working on my Master’s degree at the time. I wanted to attend every session and network with all the people. I quickly learned that I could not feasibly do that. I learned that, although I’m super extroverted, I covet time alone.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY
When the symptoms start, treat them – right away. If there’s one thing I wish I had thought to bring with me on my 2nd trip, it would be some cold medicine of some kind. I knew going into the trip that I was tired and run down. Between the 2 trips, my husband and I had experienced some emotional times with having to put our beloved Harry Mudfoot to sleep. I hadn’t slept well in over a week. I should have known better and brought something with me.
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When we travel, it is SO easy to overdo it on drinking coffee or soda or other various beverages and we don’t drink enough water. At Christmas, I was gifted a water bottle that has markings for up to 32 oz. on the side of it. Those markings make it easier for me to track how much water I am taking in. It is recommended that we drink 8, 8 oz glasses of water each day. Just the act of traveling can make us bloat and all kinds of stuff. It’s important to remember to drink AT LEAST 64 oz. of water each day while you’re traveling. Go for more.
If you have to fly, remember to take a water bottle with you. Keep it empty until you get past security. Once you are past security, fill it up at a water fountain. This not only is better for you – but it saves you from spending $10 on a 16.9 oz bottle of water.
It’s so easy to eat crap food when traveling. Conference schedules are all over the place. I had the privilege to get to network at lunch, 2 days in a row, over a lunch provided by others. The “problem” is that it was at the same restaurant both days. Trust me, again, when I say I am not complaining. It was delicious. However, my body was ready for something healthier. Thankfully, we were staying at an Airbnb versus the hotel, so cooking meals was a great option. Being able to consume greens and fruit and healthier foods is something my body tends to crave when I’m traveling. One can only take so much crap food for so long. Our bodies are meant to live on a diet of junk food. The healthier foods keep us healthier.
Something I have yet to master is finding the time to exercise while traveling. Conferences have crazy, crazy schedules. It is so hard to find the time to work out. I try to train for at least 1 half marathon each year. Without fail, I end up traveling to at least 1 conference during my training season. I tend to end up taking that time “off” from training because I am still learning how to master the art of making time to do this. Keeping our bodies healthy means keeping some form of exercise. Thankfully, this last conference required me to walk to and from the metro station – about a half mile each way. Also, we walked a little more than half a mile (one way) to lunch at the fabulous Mexican restaurant. This isn’t what I want to keep as exercise, but it is certainly better than nothing.
Friends, we need take care of ourselves so that we can live into our callings. These tips don’t just apply for traveling the conference circuit. These are things we should do every day! In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. While that passage starts off and refers to sexual immorality, I think we need to also look at it from the view of being physically healthy. If we are not physically healthy, how can we fully live into our calling?