5 life-changing habits I learned from travelling with a friend.

How else should a girl get over a few rough years than by jumping on a jumbo and heading to the Big Apple? In September a girlfriend and I lived life to the fullest by travelling to New York City. You know, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of? And those streets did make us feel brand new.

After a rough couple of years that had left both of us physically and emotionally drained, we decided to take the plunge and plan something big. Something to reward ourselves and remind us that life is pretty amazing. We left our young children with our husbands and took a ride on a big jet plane (geez, I’m really getting into music lyrics right now)…

Dreams can come true!

My friend Emma had been a constant support to me while I cared for my terminally ill mum. She is someone I admire and respect, but we’d never travelled together, not even to the coast for a weekend. Spending 10 days away together was definitely going to test our friendship.

While I was equally nervous and excited about the trip, I didn’t realise what I would learn from Emma during our holiday. Being constantly in each other’s company, I was able to witness some great habits I can adapt into my own life to make things a little bit easier, a little healthier and way more enjoyable. Here are five life-changing habits I picked up from travelling with my friend:

1. The importance of looking after yourself.

Emma has learnt the valuable lesson of taking care of her health and wellbeing. I’m not saying she has this 100% down pat, and we were in ‘holiday mode’ so her dedication may waiver a little in her ‘real life’, but I was inspired to eat better, sleep more and include exercise in each day.

Emma eats well by ensuring her meals, whether bought or self prepared, are super delicious and mainly healthy, but doesn’t go on a guilt trip when she indulges. I’ve always known you’re meant to eat healthy but didn’t realise how good it could taste, or how losing weight doesn’t mean being hungry, that in fact you can lose the unhealthy kilos and still be full. This girl packed a delicious spread of cheese, fruit, avocado and bread for the long haul flight. I felt full the whole time and didn’t need to eat the sometimes not-so-appetising airline catering. We also indulged at places like Eataly and Shake Shack (ok, way too many times at Shake Shack), but we balanced this by hitting around 20k steps a day walking through one of the most amazing cities in the world.

She also makes sure she gets enough sleep and at least one daily walk. This was so easy to do in NYC with long walks around Central Park, walking the Brooklyn Bridge and pounding the pavement while we shopped. I, like everyone, understand the importance of moving my body, but seeing Emma do it day in and day out made me realise it was possible to up my game. And I have!  It’s not as easy without the amazing NYC backdrop, but I’m still making the effort to get outside, get my heart rate up and to get some fresh air.

2. Being a bookworm

Growing up I loved to read. I was the girl with the torch under my doona cover so my mum didn’t catch me after bedtime. This love has always stayed with me but slowly over the years I’ve been reading less and less,  feeling like there’s ‘not enough time’ and spending too much time on social media and surfing the net (not that there’s anything wrong with social media or surfing!). The truth is, this mindset has been to my own detriment. I haven’t made reading the priority that it once was. I think I actually forgot how good reading can make me feel. Just like taking the time to exercise, sitting down with a good book is a great way to give your brain a rest from the daily grind. Emma hasn’t made this mistake. She’s actually a speed reader, which gives her an advantage, but she devours books and gains so much from this pastime. If she thinks she’ll have a chance to read during the day she’ll carry a book with her. While I looked at my phone she was reading in Central Park. Her enthusiasm for a good book motivated me to read a book from cover to cover for the first time in a looooong time. True, it was so it was always going to be a page turner, but travelling with Emma has convinced me I need to get into the habit of reading books more often.


3. How to apply lipstick correctly

Oh my goodness, this a biggie – how to apply lippie correctly – turns out I’ve been doing it wrong!! OOPS!! After getting ready for a night on Broadway, I emerged from the bathroom feeling pretty awesome, Emma giggled at me and told me that you don’t need to go to the very corners of your mouth, that applying on the plump part of your lips is enough. Only a true friend would be this honest! I have very thin lips, so in the past have been scared of the ol’ lipstick but now I love it. Thank you Emma for saving me from my amateur makeup artistry!

4. Have access to all your money.

As a feminist, this admission is something I’m kind of ashamed of. My laziness with my own finances has happened over several years. Basically, I suck at numbers. I try hard to understand interest rates, our mortgage and our super but then my brain hurts and I want to go and watch Nashville. I’m not a big spender but I’m not money savvy either. This has resulted in never memorising our joint account online log in details. This would have been pretty handy whilst abroad when all my money was used up on my travel account (I blame the ridiculous exchange rate, NOT my Bloomingdales’ splurge). If I was a grown-up I could have simply logged in and transferred some more money across, but no, I’m not a grown-up and I had to ask my Hubby to do it for me. This is something I’m not proud of and one that Emma rightly so chastised me for. Every woman should be able to access her money when she needs to and I intend to learn those log in details right after I watch tonight’s episode of The Block ;).

5. Your vibe attracts your tribe.

Our energy does attract people into our lives. Emma’s fun, witty, kind, non-judgemental and nurturing nature has allowed me to open up and receive love from her. Part of this big adventure to NYC was for me to scatter some of my mum’s ashes in Central Park. It felt so fitting to do this with a woman who was a lifeline on many dark days. I like to think I have been a good friend to her too, and that I’ve been able to encourage her on bad days. We must make a habit of connecting with those who bring the best out of us and can handle the worst in us – this applies to friendships and partners. You know the saying ‘if you can’t handle me binging on tasty cheese and Milo, you don’t deserve to sip cocktails with me at the Loeb Boathouse’, or something like that.

So there you have it, some habits I have implemented.

One more habit that could be life-changing – always travel with an early riser who brings back your morning coffee while you’re still in bed... now that is true love!

Emma Madsen is the Founder and Editor of, follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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