Mindful travel is about bringing consciousness to our wandering. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the first post of this mini-series that’s all about why we need to consume destinations differently.
Mindful travel is about not using travel as a tool to disconnect, but instead as an opportunity to be more connected than ever, with our own selves, with others, and with nature.
After years of wandering, I noticed that sometimes I traveled for the same reason that some people buy too much clothes. It’s not because I needed the getaway, but instead because I needed a distraction.
Travel became one more way to keep myself busy or to seek instant gratification.
It was only once started on my journey of inner exploration that I realized that often times, I wasn’t choosing my destinations and my travel formats consciously. I chose sights and stops based on others’ recommendations. I chose the speed of my trip based on how many places I might be able to tick off my list. And I never stopped to consider the impact of the steps I took, on myself, nor on others or the land I wandered through.
How to Become Conscious Travelers
As mindful world wanderers, we take each step with care and consideration. We reflect. We move slowly. The auto-pilot is turned off and we are in the driver’s seat.
In recent times, more people have started talking about the impacts of travel and tourism on our world, but we don’t speak often enough about the inner aspects of traveling the world. Mindful travel forces us to consider the external impacts of our movements, but more importantly, our own inner situation as well.
This isn’t about being judgmental about other people’s itineraries, ways of travel or frequency of movement, but instead reflecting on this stuff for our own selves. Just like with consciously consuming goods, we aren’t in charge of setting limits for other people. They may require more pairs of shoes or more weekend getaways than me to feel at ease. All we can do is be in charge of knowing our own limits and encouraging others to do the same.
Decisions about what to buy and how to travel should be made with awareness and care.
10 Ways to Become a Mindful Traveler
1. Travel the way that feels pleasant and comfortable to you.
Forget about how others are doing it. Forget about trends and where you’re supposed to go. Take some time to reflect on the adventure that your planning. Choose your way forward consciously.
This might seem obvious, but it’s just so easy to end up walking a path that isn’t right for us. So hopefully, this article can serve as a reminder.
Stop for a minute. See where you are and where you’re thinking of going. Is it in line with what brings you joy? What is the purpose of the destination? Is the itinerary suited to your needs?
Think about your why. Make sure your trips align with the person you want to be.
2. Slow down.
Stop obsessing about fitting nine million stops on your European adventure. Cut down the number of stops and visits to the bare minimum.
Enjoy each one for more time and take more space between each stop to fully allow the experience to sink in.
3. Further and more foreign aren’t always better.
Many world wanderers have never even taken the time to explore their own backyard. Explore it, frequently. Getaways nearby are not only more sustainable but also much more feasible.
Plus, they can be just a fulfilling as a far-off escape.
4. Don’t let fear stop you.
Fear can be paralyzing. It can stop us from doing the things that would be most right for us. Don’t let it.
Face your fears. Pack them up to bring them along for the ride.
Scared of traveling solo? Visiting Africa? Or getting on that plane? Recognize that fear is only an emotion and that it shouldn’t get to call the shots.
Not sure how to stop allowing your fears to get in the way? I can help!
5. Be conscious of your carbon footprint.
Don’t allow yourself to ignore the impact that that your travels have on our natural world. Consider the impacts when you fly, when you drive, when you wander around natural sights, when you buy souvenirs and anytime you’re exploring.
6. Consider the impact of your visit to the location.
How might it affect locals? Their regional economy? Their natural environment?
If mass tourism has already arrived there, consider finding another destination.
7. Don’t only explore the world, but also explore within yourself.
Even if you’re traveling in a group, with a partner, on a tour or with friends, take some time to absorb the experience solo.
Journal, meditate or simply reflect on the highs and lows of the experience.
Not sure how to explore your inner self? I’d love to guide you along the way.
8. Be mindful while you wander.
Take in the sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells of the land. Take moments to stop and take it all in.
Mindfulness is about being present with the moment and accepting what you find. Do this as often as you can while you travel.
9. Forget about the camera and pictures.
Disconnect from Instagram and just be in the moment.
Stop obsessing about needing to show others what you lived, and focus on taking in the experience before you.
10. Accept that travel can be both beautiful and horrible.
It can include amazing days and hard days, rain and sunshine, energy and exhaustion. Be more honest with yourself and others about the reality of these experiences.