Mindful Traveler: 3 Easy Steps To A Great Travel Mindset

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.

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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.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

14 thoughts on “Mindful Traveler: 3 Easy Steps To A Great Travel Mindset

  • Avatar
    August 20, 2020 at 7:26 am
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    I love this post. I’m always worried about if I’m getting the best experience with my limited time, when really I should be ready to embrace what comes and try what’s new.

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      August 20, 2020 at 8:49 am
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      Absolutely true! It’s easy to get caught up in plans and rushing from one thing to the next while traveling.

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    August 19, 2020 at 11:16 pm
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    Such an important topic to discuss, especially now when we are locked up in our homes. While I agree that mindfulness is valuable at all times especially while you’re travelling, I feel it’s become more important nowadays. We need to relook at travel more mindfully so that we only leave positive vibes wherever we go. I have always focussed on going on an offbeat part, being inquisitive and understanding the local Culture & Tradition. It has always made my travels far more enriching.

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      August 20, 2020 at 8:54 am
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      That’s sound advice, Archana, especially given your experience. I couldn’t agree with you more!

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    August 18, 2020 at 3:40 pm
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    After years and years of travel, I can subscribe to each of your points. However, to be honest, I find it even more important to focus on these in my life between travels when I tend to put my mind to rest a bit. I think I’m more mindful when I’m abroad. I’m kind of a better person then. Hence, all these inspiration would enrich each and every day.
    Very nice and deep and inspiring post – something to think about 🙂

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      August 20, 2020 at 10:15 am
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      How very interesting, Renata! Thanks for the reminder that mindfulness is so important at home, as well. Glad you enjoyed reading this post!

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    August 18, 2020 at 1:52 pm
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    Jackie, these are great tips! Travel can be stressful if you let it, so I always put myself into “vacation mode” before I leave the house. I will usually go out for dinner or breakfast before I leave (this makes me feel like I’m already on vacation) or even stay overnight in my departure city so that I’m well rested. I will always hire a car to take me to the airport which reduces the stress. Most importantly I know that something will always go wrong when travelling and I just tell myself to go with the flow and remember there is no hurry when on vacation (unless you are late for your flight).

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      August 20, 2020 at 10:18 am
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      Thank you for adding these excellent tips, Kelly. I like all of them and will definitely put a few of them in practice for my next trip. Vacation can’t start soon enough, right! Brilliant.

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    August 18, 2020 at 12:01 pm
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    Travel opens up so many windows and is a great educator. But to learn from travel, one needs to be open-minded and curious. One needs to be amenable for learning about new places and cultures and also tolerant towards cultures that are different from once own.

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      August 20, 2020 at 10:17 am
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      Yes, absolutely! I wish everyone espoused that belief. Fortunately, I think many travelers do!

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    August 18, 2020 at 10:07 am
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    That’s my kind of travel!! It’s all about discovering the cultures, traditions, food, nature and people of the place. I do enjoy to highlights but try to experience them without the crowds. We do have the time constraints. But it’s fun and extra memorable to find the hidden gems and meet with locals to really experience the culture.
    It all comes down to being mindful about which experiences we choose to have. All we need is an open mind. Thanks Jackie for sharing such valuable tips.

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      August 20, 2020 at 10:14 am
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      We are on the same page, for sure, Jyoti! I’m glad you share this outlook and can add your personal experience on this topic.

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    August 15, 2020 at 6:10 am
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    This was a really interesting post to read about different ways of being a mindful traveller. I like to be as open minded as possible while I travel, and try out some new things that I wouldn’t necessarily try out if I was in my home country. I agree that you need to ask more questions sometimes to get an understanding of the culture and traditions.

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      August 20, 2020 at 10:11 am
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      I’m glad you enjoyed reading this, Krista. It sounds like you have the right idea!

      Reply

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