When you travel mindfully, you shed your environment and conditioning to get to know your true self. Here are my top tips for mindful travel.
Have you ever come back from vacation and noticed how different your home looks?
Maybe you spot a pair of mismatched pillow cases or the light streaming in from your balcony. New details that you didn’t notice before.
This feeling shows the transformative power of travel. Even a short trip breaks your routine and gives you a fresh outlook.
You notice what’s lacking in your life, or you’re inspired to make changes – to take up yoga after a trip to California, or start cooking after an Italian vacation.
What is mindful travel?
When you travel mindfully, you’re aware of your surroundings and how you see the world.
When you’re mindful, you’re curious about what you’re seeing – and your experiences deepen.
Mindfulness happens effortlessly when you travel because it brings you out of your daily routine into new surroundings.
You’re more open to new experiences, and you’re paying more attention as your senses come alive.
Leaving your homes and the known world behind for a new destination jolts you into the present moment and gives you perspective on life.
If you’ve ever arrived in a foreign country you notice details – like the scent of fresh mango or the colors of a corner shop – more vividly than you would at home.
Your normal routine means you’re often on autopilot and may not notice details as you rush through your to-do lists.
When you travel (and if you don’t just replace your to-do list for another list of must-see attractions), you’re still for long enough to appreciate the present moment and experience curiosity and joy.
And such curiosity springs from stillness and brings on self-understanding.
How can you travel more mindfully? Here are 5 simple tips for your next trip:
1. Prioritize your curiosity
Before your trip, ask yourself what you’re curious about – from the books you read to the films you watch. Then write down what draws you.
Then ask yourself how can these things inspire your next trip?
Mindful travel helps you realize what’s lacking in your life and what you’d love to get more of.
2. Set an intention
Traveling mindfully helps you gain perspective and discover more about what’s important. If you want a transformative trip, you should be clear on what you’d like to get from it.
Do you want to relax or indulge your interest in art history? What can balance out your life, and what do you yearn for – connection, adventure, peace?
Setting an intention for your travels gives you purpose. And this helps you plan and focus your attention, Samuel says. Trips can bring rest and the space you’ve been craving, or adventure to pull you out of routine.
If you’re addicted to your smartphones, a new environment can be perfect to shut down your WiFi and build some new habits.
3. Get to know yourself
When you’re on the road, you discover who you really are – outside of your identity, routines, native environment and social conditioning.
By removing yourself from your known surroundings, you can leave behind your usual thoughts and beliefs.
Pushing past your comfort zones builds the confidence that lets you do what you previously thought impossible.
4. Embrace the experience
Wander without a plan, then ask yourself how often you allow this freedom in your daily life.
How much of your daily life is dictated by shoulds rather than joys?
Ditch the guidebooks. Or at least ask yourself why you want to visit a particular place. Are you inspired or do you feel obligated by a guide book?
You can develop new routines like yoga, walking, journaling or sketching, since you have more time on vacation. It’s also a great time to record your experiences and experiment with creative outlets like writing or sketching.
But mindfulness isn’t only meant to make us relaxed and happy. Awareness means confronting both the beauty and ugliness of life – like injustice and pain.
5. Make real changes
When you’re back home, practice gratitude as the antidote to monotony. Or take a day with no plans. Be bored and watch your creativity come alive.