Your mindset can have a huge impact on the quality of your travel experiences. The best mindset for travel is one in which you consciously step out of your comfort zone, evaluate your beliefs and values, and learn from new people and places. Follow these 3 easy steps toward being a more mindful traveler. It will lead you to life-changing journeys and unforgettable experiences.
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What is a Mindfulness?
Being mindful or mindfulness means being in a state of conscious awareness about the present moment and current surroundings. It is neither looking back in time nor looking forward. It means being present with your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a self-reflective way.
What is a Mindful Traveler?
While you can practice mindfulness at any time, it’s especially valuable while you’re traveling. That’s because it’s easy to be in a constant state of rushing, given ambitious travel itineraries and lists of things to see and do. Instead, the mindful traveler is able to focus, self-reflect, and fully enjoy the present moment.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Embrace Each New Opportunity
It’s human nature to become set in our ways, and it’s actually very easy to maintain our “bubbles” even when we go abroad these days. But the real growth comes from pushing beyond those limiting beliefs.
First, it’s important to be mindful and recognize your thoughts, routines, and patterns, which shape your behavior. Once you are aware of them, you can then consciously alter your choices to embrace new opportunities.
For example, if you’re traveling with the purpose of self-discovery, you might set yourself a few small goals, and thoughtfully try one new thing each day.
It could be that you:
- Try a new activity you might not ordinarily do.
- Sample a new dish that you wouldn’t typically choose.
- Communicate using a region’s native language (even if it’s just a few words).
The best way to fearlessly embrace these opportunities is to shorten the pause between considering the choice and accepting it; then remain fully in-tune with the experience.
Go Off the Beaten Path
In addition to making small changes outside your comfort zone each day, you might also aim to go a little off the beaten track.
Rather than choosing the more touristy beachfront resorts, find something authentic, perhaps inland, or choose to stay closer to nature where you’re likely to find the local experiences.
Build in time to explore freely, immersing yourself in each new experience. You’ll want to set aside a few unscheduled days that afford you the opportunity to just see where the day (or the route) takes you.
When you embrace these types of impromptu moments in a mindful way, you create unforgettable memories so rich that they have the potential to influence the rest of your life.
Step 2: Focus On Being Open-Minded
One of the most life-changing benefits of travel is the chance it gives you to step outside of yourself. Seeing the world through the lens of other cultures and destinations can be truly transformative.
Mindful travel allows you to disconnect from your current environment and its influences to think more objectively about what truly makes you happy.
Better yet, work a daily meditation on your experiences into your daily routine. (You might even find some coastal destinations offer a meditation on the beach.)
Once you examine your new environment and experiences, you can cull out those you think might also bring you joy at home.
For example, are you enjoying the long walks after dinner, a space with a beachy decor, or mid-day siestas? Maybe you’ve developed a taste for a certain regional spice or have a new affinity for herbal remedies. Carefully consider a way you can incorporate these pleasurable experiences into your life at home.
Remember, you don’t need to agree with every way of life or tradition that you encounter. Even if it just confirms your own beliefs and goals, it’s validating.
Plus, you never know what areas you might stand to learn a thing or two until you examine your thoughts. Just being aware that there are different ways to think and do things broadens your perspective and increases your value as a conscientious citizen of the world.
Strive to approach your travels with a flexible attitude and avoid jetting off with limitations about what you will and won’t do. Being a mindful traveler can be incredibly restorative.
Not only can it change the way we feel about the world–it can change the way we feel about ourselves.
What I mean is, if you’re feeling a low self-esteem, unhappy with your career or relationship, or been looking at this resource considering a change to your appearance, mindful travel may offer a much needed mental break.
Step 3: Be Inquisitive
Another way to maximize your experience as a mindful traveler is to remember to be open and curious. This means asking both practical and cultural questions as they arise, and being receptive to the response.
Ask Practical Questions
It may seem obvious to ask for directions, transportation advice, the best places to eat, and other practical considerations. But some people can be hesitant, especially in unfamiliar surroundings.
Getting answers from someone in the know not only clarifies things, but it’s a chance to connect with another human being and to potentially discover a place you won’t find in the guidebook.
Understanding Culture & Tradition
Asking questions is also an excellent way to get to know a little about the local people and culture; their sayings, traditions, and habits are all fascinating once you respectfully delve a little deeper.
If you come across something that you don’t fully understand, embrace it and ask more questions. Glossing over your curiosity or not fully exploring it is a missed opportunity. When you delve further into culture and tradition, you enhance your experience as a mindful traveler.
When asked respectfully, you’ll find people are proud and honored to explain traditions. To gain an in-depth perspective and personalized travel guidance, sometimes you just have to ask a few open-ended questions in a friendly way.
Final Thoughts on Being a Mindful Traveler
Whether you’re planning a long weekend in New England or backpacking around South East Asia for the summer, we suggest you embark as a mindful traveler. Regardless of your travel plans, these three steps to developing a great travel mindset will serve you well. It’s an outlook that allows travel to fully enhance your life and deepen your experiences.
What do you think makes for a great travel mindset? How do you practice mindfulness when you travel? Let us know in the comments below.
This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.