Traveling is something we should all do at least once a year, circumstances allowing. It is one of the best ways to leave the stress that we experience every day, even if we think that they may not be that bad. Traveling also gives us a chance to discover new things, which results in self-improvement. In addition to that, traveling provides moments of deep reflection that may otherwise not be possible in the comfort (or discomfort) of our daily lives.
That being said, all those things above may not mean anything if you do not practice mindful travel. That is, you have a mindset to do as many things as you can, go about and do the usual touristy things (although these are not bad in themselves), and worry about what may or may not happen.
The next time you go on a trip, try to practice mindful travel. You’ll have a whole new appreciation of traveling, and you’ll thank yourself for it.
Tips to practice mindful travel
Planning ahead takes away the added stress of rushing to take care of the details – from plane tickets to accommodations to your itinerary to costs. If you can plan months before your trip, then you can rest easy before you leave.
Understandably, though, there are times when you can’t help but take care of some details at the last minute. Work or personal concerns can get in the way of your plans, and you can’t always avoid them. When this happens, do not panic, but find alternatives. In fact, doing things at the last minute may turn out to be a blessing.
There are sites which help you find affordable last minute tickets even if your destination is halfway around the world; for example, you can get cheap last minute tickets to Korea, or even to Japan if you don’t stress yourself over your original plans not happening as you wanted them to.
The key is to keep your cool if your plans get messed up. There is always a way around life’s bumps.
Choose your destination wisely
When planning your trip, how do you choose your destination?
You may have a bucket list and follow that. If your destination is not set in stone, why not spend some time to think about why you want to go on a trip – be as specific as possible – and then decide on where you will go.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I willing to immerse myself in a totally different culture?
- Do I want to go out of my comfort zone but not experience too drastic changes in environment?
- Do I want to go to a bustling city?
- Do I need a quiet mountainside retreat or a remote island?
- Do I want to recharge my batteries with the sun, sand, and sea?
Knowing exactly what you want will help you enjoy your trip more. Don’t pick a place just because everyone says it’s the place to be. Pick a place because it is where you want to be.
Forget your usual worries
Once you get to your destination – with bumps in your plans or not – leave your usual concerns behind. Sure, it is not easy to just not think about serious issues, but remember your reasons for going on a trip.
Instead of worrying about what’s happening at work and how much you need to do when you get back, think about where you are. Look around you. Literally stop and smell the roses (or whatever aromas surround you). You may not appreciate some unfamiliar sights and smells, but they will bring you back to the moment and make you aware of where you are and why you are there.
Every time you find yourself worrying, do the above. You will have a better experience. Trust me.
Don’t rush about
You’ve probably heard/seen/experienced this: people having a list of things to do and places to visit, following a strict timetable.
Wake up at 6 AM.
Have breakfast at the hotel buffet.
Grab a taxi (or wait for a rental car).
Visit destination A. Stay there for 30 minutes.
On to destination B. Leave in an hour – max.
And so on.
By night time, everyone’s exhausted and just want to crash.
In the morning, the cycle starts again.
While I understand why people feel the need to do things this way, I find it a waste of time, energy, and money. Why go travel for leisure when you just add to your stress by rushing around? Why not make some adjustments so that you can truly enjoy your trip?
Some things may have to be sacrificed – a tourist attraction or two – but if you give yourself time to have a leisurely breakfast, spend as many minutes (or hours) doing something you enjoy, and have a nice (quiet mode or party mode, it doesn’t matter) evening out, won’t your trip be a more memorable experience?
You do not have to run helter-skelter from one place to another. Pay attention to your surroundings and the people around you. Pay attention to what you are doing. You’ll come back from your trip in a better state than when you left.