Ditch the stress and enjoy your vacay to the fullest! These mindful travel tips will help you stay grounded and savor every moment, even when things go wrong.
Why Mindful Travel?
Summer is finally here and travel is in full effect. But let’s face it – traveling can be stressful. Between managing finances, packing, planning, and dealing with unforeseen circumstances, it can be hard to relax and truly enjoy your trip. As we gear up for summer vacations, whether it’s to hit the road or catch a flight, it’s essential to remember that mindfulness can be a powerful tool for staying calm and collected while on the go. Simply put, mindful traveling means being fully present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and actions while traveling. Mindful travel allows you to relax, de-stress, connect with yourself and others, appreciate your experiences more, and stay calm and focused, even in the midst of chaos.
Related Article: Simple Mindfulness Practices to Improve Your Way of Life
I remember my first international trip to Italy. I had everything meticulously planned out (or so I thought). But of course, things didn’t go exactly according to plan. I faced issues with my flights, my baggage was lost for the first few days (yes, a few days), and I wasn’t prepared for the brutal amount of walking. On top of that, the food was not at all what I expected. Any one of these things could have easily ruined my trip, but I refused to let them. Instead, I chose to be mindful. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that these things were out of my control.
My flights and hotel were paid for well in advance, so I knew I wasn’t going to be stranded in Italy. I also knew that my luggage would eventually arrive, and in the meantime, it gave me an excuse to go shopping. The lost luggage turned out to be a blessing in disguise once I realized how much walking and stair climbing I had to do to get to my hotel. Instead of me having to lug around baggage, it “magically” showed up in my hotel room a few days later (thanks Venice Times Hotel). Instead of getting angry, frustrated, or spending the whole time complaining, I decided to focus on the positive aspects of my trip, such as the beautiful architecture, history, culture, and people. I took the time to really appreciate my surroundings, taking in the sights and sounds as I sat in local cafes and rode the ferry, and immersed myself in new experiences venturing out on the train to neighboring cities.
Mindful travel helped me to have a more positive and enjoyable experience in Italy. It helped me to stay calm when things went wrong, and it helped me to appreciate the good things about my trip.
The truth is, staying centered on the go can be tough! That’s why we’ve put together some helpful tips to make it easier for you to practice mindfulness wherever your travels may take you.
Focus On Your Breath
Take Breaks And Slow Down
1. Set Intentions
Before you go, take some time to think about what you want to get out of your trip. Are you looking to relax? Learn something new? Explore new cultures? Or simply have fun? Once you know what you want to get out of your trip, you can start to set intentions that will help you achieve those goals.
For example, if you want to relax, you could set an intention to read a book by the pool or get a massage to de-stress. A museum or cooking class may be an excellent way to learn something new. If you’re interested in exploring new cultures, you may set an intention to interact with locals, attend local events, or try new foods.
I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to traveling (okay, a lot). It all stemmed from traveling with my kids and having them look at me during a moment of downtime, asking “what are we doing next?”. I’ll never forget that wave of stress over me as I spent hours in the hotel looking up things to do and places to eat as they sat restless and bored. Ever since that moment, I now do my research in advance and create a detailed itinerary of everything I want to do, down to the hour. I read blogs, watch videos, and look at maps to learn as much as I can about the places I’m visiting. I plan everything in detail, including what I’m going to do each day, what restaurants I’m going to eat at, and how long I’m going to spend at each place. I also factor in transportation time and walking distances.
I know this may seem excessive, but I see it as my time-saving hack to avoid wasting precious trip time figuring out what to do or where to eat. I also find that knowing exactly what I’m going to do and where I’m going to go takes the stress out of the unknown, and allows me to relax and enjoy myself more. I may not end up doing everything on my list, but I like to have a plan. This gives me a sense of direction and helps me make the most of my time.
By setting intentions, you give yourself a sense of purpose and direction, which can help you stay grounded and focused throughout your travels, helping you make the most of your trip.
Your intentions are the compass that will guide your travels.
2. Focus on Your Breath
When traveling, there can be a lot of unexpected curve balls thrown your way like flight cancellations and delays or getting lost in a new city. Unexpected things happen, and when they do it’s important to have a way to cope with the stress that follows. When stress creeps in and you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, take a moment to pause, close your eyes if you can, and take a few deep breaths. Focus on the sensation of the air entering your lungs, then slowly exhale, releasing tension with each breath. If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to your breath. A deep breath may not seem like much, but it can help slow your heart rate and relax your muscles, leaving you feeling centered and in control.
Breathing may not change the situation, but it can help you feel more centered and in control of it.
3. Be Present
Instead of getting lost in your thoughts or worrying about what’s next on your itinerary, try to focus on the present moment. Take a moment to observe your surroundings and appreciate the beauty of the moment. Whether you’re exploring a new city or hiking in nature, take in all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations around you. When you’re having a meal, take a few minutes to really savor every bite. And when visiting a new area, don’t be afraid to explore and get lost.
I’ll never forget my escapades in Italy, getting lost trying to navigate the local buses and trains from Venice to the neighboring cities. I remember getting on one wrong bus after another, trying to get a taxi with no success, and taking way more steps than I anticipated. Sure, it may have stirred up some panic and anxiety in the moment, but it’s one of my favorite memories from Italy that I can look back on and laugh at. I didn’t realize it at the time, but by keeping my focus on the present moment and not dwelling on the what-ifs, I managed to find my way back to my destination.
Don’t worry about what’s next on your itinerary, just focus on enjoying the journey.
4. Take Breaks and Slow Down
When you’re traveling, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to take care of yourself. But it’s important to take breaks and slow down, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Go for a walk, read in a quiet place, sit in silence, listen to music, set aside time for yourself every day, listen to your body and don’t be afraid to say “no” to activities, and take a break if you’re feeling stressed or tired.
Although I always plan jam-packed itineraries when traveling, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to schedule breaks and downtime in between activities. Otherwise, I end up feeling exhausted, low energy, and no fun to be around. I usually schedule a few hours at the hotel spa, relax by the pool, or just take a nap in my room. Taking time for myself helps me feel recharged, re-energized, and ready to explore.
Taking breaks and slowing down can help you make the most of your travels and allow you to return home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Make sure to take some time for yourself each day to relax and recharge.
5. Practice Gratitude
As you’re traveling, it’s important to pause and take some time to reflect on all the things you’re grateful for. This could be your travel companions (who can make or break a trip), the experiences you’re having, the places you’ve visited, or simply the opportunity to travel, which is a privilege that not everyone has. Practicing gratitude can help you stay positive and focused on the good things, which can enhance your travel experience and make it even more special.
Related Article: Grateful AF: 7 Essentials to Cultivating a Thankful State of Mind
Gratitude can make your travels more memorable and meaningful.
By incorporating these simple mindfulness practices into your travel routine, you can enhance your overall experience and create lasting memories. These tips can help you stay calm & collected even in the midst of chaos. So pack your bags, hit the road, and enjoy the journey!
Comment below: When you’re traveling, how do you keep it together when the sh*t hits the fan?