Love to travel? Learn a few tips on how to get the most out of the places you visit!
by Tessa Bender
The world is a big place and if you’re like me, you want to see as much of it as possible. I love travel to new places because it shakes things up. Travel gets me out of my comfort zone and teaches me lessons about the world and about myself. My favorite parts of travelling are trying the local food, meeting local people, and seeking out the less travelled path. My first few global trips had elements of mindful travel in it, but now I put a concerted effort to make sure I can make the most of each moment I am traveling. I have complied a few tips that work for me to help you travel in a more mindful way. I hope these will help you experience travel in a new way and make memories of a lifetime!
Put the Phone Down
When I first started traveling, there was no inexpensive international cell plan like you can get cheaply today, so I would always buy a local (non-smart) mobile and use that to get in touch with hostels or friends I meet along the way. This way of travelling was lovely because on non-smart mobiles, you don’t get notifications other than text and calls, and you probably won’t get many of those considering you probably don’t know many people in the country.
Smart phones are a great tool that we can use from time to time to help us with travel. We can look up local restaurants, use google translate to talk to strangers, and navigate in foreign lands. However, our smart phones are also one of our biggest distractions and inhibitors to being mindful when we are travelling. When we are looking down at our phones, we may miss that beautiful interaction between a shop owner and a local grandmother, or an opportunity to interact with someone. I recommend putting your phone away. Resist the urge to take a million photos of a beautiful view or landmark, and simply experience the moment with your five senses.
Leave Room for Spontaneity
It may be tempting during the days and weeks leading up to your trip to spend hours planning every detail of every day of your adventure. However, when we over plan, it often leads to exhaustion during the trip. It can also make you disappointed when you don’t get to all of the sites you wanted to see. More importantly, it doesn’t leave any room for spontaneity. Leave a few days unplanned if you have the wiggle room. Perhaps, you can get an Airbnb or hotel in a certain town, but be open to suggestions from locals, or fellow travelers on where to explore in the area. You will likely see things many tourists don’t get to see. When I have taken this approach in the past, I have been taken to beautiful old abandoned temples, joined a local meditation group on a crocodile lake under a full moon, spent days camping on a secret beach, and so many more unforgettable experiences.
For most of us, our daily lives are scheduled and planned, and we don’t get to lead by our intuition. Taking this opportunity while you’re travelling to follow your instincts, is a deeply nourishing practice! In the end, this will connect you on a deeper level to your instincts and intuitions in your daily life as well.
There is no one who knows the area and the culture of the place you’re visiting better than the locals. If you follow tips 1 and 2, then you’ll be able to meet many locals. Sit down with them. Take them to have tea or a meal, and inquire about their life and their favorite activities in the area. This requires a practice of mindful listening. Make sure when you’re meeting someone, to meet them fully as another human being, not as simply a source of information. If you practice this, you may even leave with a lifetime friendship. When we mindfully listen to someone, it helps us to understand who they are. In this way we are better able to empathize with not only them but all other people more. This practice can also help us to make new friends when we’re back home as well.
Imagine meditating in a temple in Myanmar, practicing yoga in an ashram in India, soaking in an onsen hot spring in Japan, or sitting in a hammam in Morocco. One amazing way to understand the culture of the place your visiting, is to investigate their wellness practices. This also helps us to stay centered and not overwhelmed when we travel. Find a local yoga studio, even if it’s not in your language, you can figure it out by following the other students in the class. Ask your new local friend about the ways their culture encourages health and wellness. Partake in whatever activity they share! Remaining committed to your own health and wellbeing as you travel will help you to stay mindful throughout your adventure!
Solo Mindful Travel
The last tip, if you’re courageous enough, is one of the most powerful. Take a trip anywhere in the world with no one else but yourself! This is a great way to practice mindful travel because when you’re alone, you don’t have anyone else to consider, you can simply do the activities you want to do. Slow down, talk to strangers, don’t go to the planned activity that you had on the schedule, cancel your hotel booking and stay in a different town, or even rent a motorcycle and see the sites that way! Solo travel is one of the best ways to get to know yourself, building a sense of self-awareness that is embedded in the practice of mindfulness.
Adventure forth my friends and may all of your travels be mindful!
Photo: Stefan Kostoski
What are your favorite ways to travel mindfully? Comment Below to share with the rest of the Till Community!