Mindful travel keeps us curious; it opens our minds to unexpected experiences, connects our hearts through empathy and compassion, and gives us a broader perspective on the mundane and exhausting routines that tend to overly occupy our minds at home.
As travel becomes increasingly accessible, more of us are blessed with opportunities to experience the world. It is our responsibility to take this privilege and create meaningful experiences not only for ourselves but for those we interact with along the way.
Use these six tips to completely immerse yourself in a new experience and find the true enjoyment you deserve from mindful travel.
1. Set an Intention for the Trip.
Image credit: Mandy
A powerful way to create your dream trip is to begin by setting an intention. Maybe you simply want to relax on a beach or perhaps you’d like to immerse yourself in a distinct culture. All intentions are valid. Like planting a seed in the soil, proclaiming your intention will enable your dreams to blossom into a reality.
2. Say Your Pleases and Thank Yous.
Every time I travel I am reminded how fortunate I am to be a native speaker of English, the language that communicates around the world. That being said, learning the basics of the country’s native language can go a long way in enriching your trip. No matter how silly you may sound forcing out the unfamiliar sounds, locals will recognize and appreciate your effort. At the least you’ll get a smile!
3. Eat Locally.
Ah, food! It’s simply one of the best perks of traveling, eating your way through a new country. However, where there are tourists, there are tourist traps, and frequently you’ll find these come in the form of overpriced ‘Western’ food.
Avoid big restaurants and look for small, shabby-looking places. A good hint is to follow the locals. If you see a restaurant with a big local crowd, it’s probably a good choice! Whether it’s in a crowded market or mouth-watering street food, eating locally supports small business owners and gives you a real taste of the traditional flavors.
4. Slow Down.
Don’t forget, you’re here to enjoy. It can be easy to get wrapped up in packed days of walking tours and big attractions, so make a point to slow down. Make a ‘slow down’ playlist before you go, filled with your favorite mellow, ambient songs, perfect for background music while you stroll around the city.
Notice the details. Do people shuffle quickly or meander slowly along the sidewalks? Do strangers smile at each other on the street? What kinds of problems do people face in daily life here? Sometimes these subtle cultural differences or similarities are the most fascinating.
5. Get Involved.
Make a point to find a local event or activity to participate in. Use social media to your advantage, searching for events or groups in the area you’re visiting. Maybe there’s a concert in the park or perhaps you can find a yoga studio near your hotel. By putting yourself out of your comfort zone, you can more easily slide into the present moment and create meaningful connections that you may have never guessed possible.
6. Tech Fast.
In today’s world, we’re so reliant on apps like Google Maps and Trip Advisor that it’s hard to imagine traveling without your phone strapped to your hand. Don’t forget that it’s not only possible, but it was the reality not too long ago!
By leaving your phone at home you are making a conscious decision to immerse yourself more fully in your environment, allowing seemingly overbearing problems from your regular life that simply serve no purpose in weighing you down in this moment to drift away. Choose a nice neighborhood to spend an afternoon wandering around and just go explore. What do you have to lose?
Travel is not only about the noticing the differences but also about finding what brings us together as creatures of this Earth. Traveling mindfully gives us deeper insight into a new culture and creates a more meaningful experience.