How Travel can Lead to Mindfulness
Current popular trends can often dictate the way we live our life. One trend that has been quick to gather excitement focuses on how we can work towards living in the “moment”, also known as mindfulness. This is where all of our senses are fully engaged with what is going on in the present. If this is something you are trying to achieve, it can be difficult to be mindful with our day-to-day living and routines. Therefore, one tip on how to achieve mindfulness is through traveling alone.
As a young woman just finding her feet in the world, traveling alone has many advantages. You get to negotiate for only one. You can watch your budget if you are only paying for one. When you only have to think about yourself, you are living in the present moment by selecting where you want to eat. You can meet new acquaintances much more easily and readily if you are alone. But most importantly, you do not have to cater to anyone else’s wish to go somewhere — you get to pick for yourself, because you only have to think of yourself. This in turn, will put you one step closer to mindfulness.
As a young person traveling the world alone, you are forced to grow up. You have to rapidly learn some basic language skills in order to survive. There is no one else to turn to if you forget your way back to the hostel or hotel or AirBnB. You have to commit every detail of your journey to memory (or write it down in a journal), as you have no one else to rely upon. You will have to make judgments about people and the places you are in — are they safe for a person alone? Is the person talking to you genuinely interested in who you are and what your story is? It is difficult to be taught skills on how to read a person’s true intentions. However, if you are alone, you are forced to live in the “moment” because you have to be totally aware of your surroundings. This in turn, will help you master the art of reading the body language of another to know whether or not they are in fact, genuine and can be trusted. You will learn to trust your gut instinct. Once again, this will help you become in tune with yourself and be mindful of the choices you make.
The downside of traveling solo is the amount of selfies you have to take. Yes, if you travel alone, it’s just you and your camera recording all of the details. And of course, you have to prove you were there by adding yourself to a few of those glorious scenes. You do not have anyone else to share this with and neither do you have anyone to ask to take that awesome picture of you. But, selfies work — you do not want to take too many otherwise the joy of living in the “moment” will be lost! If by chance you do give up your phone or camera to someone to take a picture of you, look around at your options. Be mindful of who you ask. Asking someone to take your picture is a great way to introduce yourself to others and meet new people.
Don’t forget to pack a journal to record your travels as you will have no-one to reminisce with — make sure you write down places, dates and any other information, even just adding bullet points so that you can look back on your journey and bring the details more to life when you recall your adventures to others. Also note where you take pictures as the memory can soon become hazy, the name of the beautiful lagoon you sat by and the wildlife you spotted, the way the sky changed its hue …these little details, some quite minute, will bring your stories back to life and make them colorful to the listener.
Traveling alone will often mean paying more because the travel industry prefers an even number of people over odd numbers — which is unfortunate. If I see a “double” cost on an activity or place to stay, I will continue to look for something that does not penalize me for being independent. Fortunately, hostels are all over the world and cater to those independent people traveling alone. They are also excellent places to meet other travelers who have lots of local information to share. These other travelers are always eager to give up that knowledge to the new person in town, as well as personally showing you around. Once again, you have to be mindful of who you spend your time with.
Of course, there are times when you have to plan your life out a little, especially when you travel. Even though the Internet is readily accessible in most places, I try not to rely on always having access to find out local information. The Lonely Planet Guides are excellent travel books for every location that you can think of. They provide reliable information and resources for all types of travelers — the only downside may be that things may have changed since the last print.
The act of traveling alone teaches you a type of independence and confidence that cannot be taught in the classroom. You will have learned to take chances and make decisions without the help of others. You will have great stories to tell that will be larger than any life you have previously lived. When you return back to “regular life”, others will envy this self-confidence. It’s not something that can be taught — it truly is something that can only be achieved through taking the chance to live on your own terms, by living in the “moment” and attaining mindfulness.