Tips for the mindful traveller

I’ve not mentioned this before, but I’ve been writing my blog posts for the Daily Mind whilst travelling through South East Asia.

It’s been an enlightening journey in many ways, but I was particularly struck this week by the behaviour of my fellow travellers. We’ve been visiting some fascinating sites, from the Buddha park in Vang Vieng, Laos, to the Grand Palace at Bangkok, yet so few travellers seem to be living in the present moment and absorbing what they are seeing. Most people are busy clicking away on their cameras or filming the view that I wonder how much of the actual experience they are taking in. Others are texting or updating their Facebook and Twitter, telling their friends about what they’re seeing.

I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past, so I’ve decided to make it a bit of a project to be more mindful and present during my travels/holidays in order to fully appreciate the experience. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with, which I think can also be relevant to everyday life:

Creative Commons License photo credit: Venturist

Appreciating the moment
I used to take endless photos whilst on holiday and when I came home I’d look through the pictures and struggle to remember where they were taken. Now, before I take a picture, I remind myself to absorb the view first and take at least a minute to really savour it before taking a picture.

Banishing worries
Holidays and travelling are such precious experiences, yet how many of us find our thoughts turning to work worries and home life when we should be enjoying ourselves? This is the last thing you want whilst you’re on a boat trip or a scenic railway journey. One thing I do as soon as I find myself worrying about work etc is I mentally stop myself by saying STOP in my mind or I’ll do a trigger action like snapping my fingers to break my train of thought. Another thing I find helpful is to write down all the things I’m worried about and, once they’re down on paper, I put them away in my pocket. I know they are still there, but having written them down seems to stop them revolving round in my mind.

Limiting technology time
Whenever I was doing something particularly exciting or interesting on holiday I used to find myself sending texts or emails via my phone to to friends and family, telling them about the experience. This would then turn into a conversation which detracted from the original experience. Now, I switch off my phone during activities and give myself alloted times to text or email friends. For example half an hour in the morning or at the end of the day. After all, there’s plenty of time to catch up with friends, but it’s not every day that you get to go whale watching or on safari is it?

Keeping a journal
While I’m away I try to keep a travel journal and make a habit of writing in it at the end of every day. I think this focuses the mind as I know I have to make sure I have enough things to write about. I therefore pay more attention to what’s going on in the present moment rather than letting experiences pass me by.

Making time to meditate
I used to get myself in a bit of a flap on holiday, rushing around in the morning, trying not to forget my passport, suncream, room key etc. This was never the best start to the day as it would leave me feeling anxious and unable to relax. Instead, I now make sure I set my alarm 10 minutes early in order to fit in some time to meditate. I find that this calms my mind, grounds me and improves my concentration levels. I’m therefore less likely to forget things or be preoccupied and unable to enjoy myself.

Although these tips are based around my travels I hope you’ll also find them useful in everyday life as a means of having more enriching and memorable experiences.

About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality.

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