Mindful Travel

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Mindful travel is all about being in the moment and enjoying the experience of your travel. Mindful travel will put you in a clear headspace and allow you to make the most of your trips.

It goes without saying that travel usually comes with some unexpected circumstances. That may be flight delays, less than ideal weather, and last minute itinerary changes. Mindful travel allows you to be present and enjoy the trip regardless of what may come. 

lumeria maui retreat center in Hawaii a great place for mindful travel
Lumeria Maui Retreat Center, Hawaii

Traveling abroad is much different than traveling domestically in the United States because the pace of life is different abroad.

In the United States we tend to work hard, and as a result American culture has a natural hustle. This sense of urgency is what makes America great! It makes America an efficient country where customer service is unparalleled. America is convenient (for travelers)–businesses are open daily and usually have later hours compared to other countries. As a result, everything in the States happens very quickly. As Americans, we’ve come to expect that other cultures should want to be like us, but travel will teach you to appreciate different cultures.

Rather than letting the differences irritate you, like how long it can take to get a cup of coffee in Italy, embrace just being at the coffee bar, watching the Italians go about their morning. Relish the beauty of your surroundings and the fact that you have the opportunity to be in a foreign country, on vacation, and you’re about to have a delicious coffee in a place unlike anywhere else in the world. 

Traveling is about exploring different cultures, so take time to soak it all in.

It’s about learning and growing. For example, eat like the locals and immerse yourself in local culture. When in Spain, you know that mealtime is going to take a very long time and you’ll be eating late in the evening, so plan for a siesta during the day and have an aperitif since you won’t be eating dinner until 10PM. Immersing yourself in another culture puts your life into perspective and teaches you empathy and gratitude, which centers you in the present moment. 

When you travel mindfully, you will probably learn something new that you will want to take back home with you!

You may slow down and spend more time crafting your coffee at home or splurging on the fancy coffee set that will help you enjoy your morning. Being mindful expands our awareness and allows us to be more well-rounded individuals. 

To help make your travel more mindful, there are intentional things you can do. One of my favorites is meditating, which is proven to improve your sense of wellbeing. Meditating on vacation allows you to slow down, connect with your breath, and appreciate your time. Plus, you probably have traveled to a place with some great places to meditate, places you haven’t been to or normally meditate in. You can do an open eye meditation in a scenic destination. Or you can practice dropping at a landmark destination. Dropping is a way to temporarily cut through the monkey mind and constant thinking. To see how to practice dropping click here

Another way to be intentional about mindfulness during travel is reflecting upon your day in a journal or a travel diary. Reflection allows us to ruminate over our travels and appreciate small things in our day. One of my favorite experiences in Matera, Italy was with a local art gallery manager who taught me about architecture and art at the local church. I am a big proponent of gratitude journaling because there is so much to be grateful for, especially when we are traveling!

jillian, travel and wellness influencer, looking at architecture with a local italian art gallery director

To practice mindful travel, put a time limit on wifi or cell phone use.

Putting your device down and taking in your travel will make your experience more enjoyable. It will force you to be in the moment when standing in line instead of scrolling. It will perhaps ignite a conversation when waiting for a meal. Eliminating distractions is one of the most helpful tips to stay mindful. 

Making time for exercise or movement on vacation is another essential way to stay mindful. Moving your body is good for your brain. It helps you better function, and when you’re more clear-headed it is easier to be mindful. When you are exercising you’re focused on what you’re doing with your body, which clears your head. We all have those times where the mind wanders, but the likelihood of a wandering mind is lower if you are working out or have worked out that day. You can workout in the hotel room, at the gym, or even better get outside and do some exercise in the beauty of your destination. 

A good kick-start to being mindful is to travel in the off-season, when your destination will be less busy and less crowded, allowing you to meander more leisurely.

I love to travel during the off-season because it means that things are naturally slower and more peaceful. And let’s face it, in this busy world we can use all the help we can get!

Mindfulness is a practice, and with any practice, the more you do it the better you get. Mindful travel will put you in a clear headspace and allow you to make the most of your travels.  I hope that on your next vacation some mindful travel is part of your itinerary. I hope that you are able to take some of my tips away so that you can be in the moment on your next getaway. 

And if you need more practice on the sweetness of doing nothing, check out La Dolce Far Niente.

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