This year, I’ve made an effort to put travel at the top of my list of priorities. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world whenever possible after all. Traveling is fun and enriches your mind, body, and soul — especially when you’ve been stuck behind a desk for too long, and you find yourself gazing a little too longingly out the window to the distant mountains.
But while traveling is all of those positive things, it can also take a toll on your energy, wellness, and even (especially) your bank account, no matter how prepared you are for everything the trip throws at you. Even if you’re only traveling home to visit family for the holidays, or you’re traveling across the world with your passport in hand, you know how it goes. To combat these heavy feelings, I try to use mindfulness to help avoid burnout and to improve what I get out of my travels. If you find yourself feeling completely drained after a trip as well, here are a few simple ways to be a more mindful traveler, ensuring you get everything out of it that you need to recharge:
Maybe your aim is to travel for self-discovery and growth, but traveling can take a lot out of you, no matter how well you go about it. For me, I make sure to not only plan ahead, but also remember to maintain self-care habits while I’m out and about.
I highly recommend making a mindful list of what’s most important to you. You might make a note to limit alcohol consumption and to make sure you’re drinking enough water every day. Or set a reminder to get that travel insurance and other emergency services squared away. Depending on where you plan to travel, there might also be shots and tests you need before going. Make sure and get these things off your list, and off your mind, as soon as possible.
Likewise, make a simple list of the self-care habits you practice in your regular life. Do you meditate everyday? Maybe you take a morning walk and cook a healthy breakfast right after. Work these small habits into your travel days for a more mindful and healthy trip. Practicing mindfulness will even help with the stress and anxiety of travel.
Practicing self-care while you travel can make your trip even more relaxing and rewarding, but it can take some planning ahead of your trip. A few things will inevitably fall off the schedule for more exciting travel adventures, so get lots of rest, plan ahead as much as possible, and let the spontaneity of travel take care of the rest. What’s more, when it comes to planning, be sure to double-check what herbs and supplements are and are not legal in the places you’re traveling to, particularly if you’re taking a plane and crossing borders.
Traveling expands our world view and exposes us to other cultures and perspectives. Even though it’s easier than ever to travel and learn about other cultures, we are struggling to communicate effectively. International relations are tense right now, depending on where you end up. As a mindful traveler, maybe you hope to improve communication and understanding among the cultures you visit.
We can do this by understanding the customs of other cultures by studying their history. It’s also important to practice awareness of cultural biases existing in the country you come from and in the countries you visit. Simply displaying respect, openness, and understanding can go a long way — even if you don’t perform these cultural rituals perfectly, most locals will appreciate that you did your research and you are doing your best to show respect to them and their customs. It’ll also help to learn a few common words and phrases in the native language of any country you visit.
Make the Most Out Of Your Travels
Traveling mindfully means making the most of your travels. Most of us only get a few trips a year, if that, so using tools and resources available to you can make any trip more meaningful and affordable so you’re able to do it more often. Here are a few tips to make the most of your trip:
- Stay in beautiful hotels.
- Don’t feel guilty about missing “must-see” attractions.
- Find a unique outdoor spot to meditate.
- Stay an extra day without any solid plans and explore.
- Take a travel journal to document highlights or funny stories.
- Put down the camera once in a while and just be where you are.
On top of treating yourself to all the good things you can, don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone, especially if you’re taking part in a new place and a new culture. Try new foods, talk to strangers, get scenic recommendations from the locals and experience something perhaps many other tourists do not.
Take that advice with a grain of salt, however. Don’t feel like the only way to get the full experience of a place is to go on a big journey that no one else has ever been on — do what you need for yourself, not what your mom, sister, cousin, or a guidebook insists is a requirement.
If you’re a practicing vegan, don’t feel like you have to indulge in meat-based cultural staples — in fact, plan an entire trip around exploring delicious vegan meals while in another country. If you don’t feel like hiking all the way up to the top of a mountain that the guidebook mentions — don’t! Spend your time wandering the bazaar and buying gifts for your friends and family. After all, when you’re trying to enjoy a positive experience based entirely around soaking up good energy, it’s alright to be a tiny bit selfish with your plans.
Being a mindful traveler takes some work. I hope these tips have helped you come up with some unique ways to do so. Good luck, and stay safe!