It’s hard enough to remain mindful while in our familiar, everyday world. But when you hit the road, the challenges to being calm and mindful multiply. You may be worried about your work getting done and strained relationships due to your absence. Or, you may fear that you’ll miss out on something important at your destination.
Travel offers you an opportunity to truly be in the moment, to be mindful of your new experiences in strange lands. You just have to learn how to embrace this opportunity in a mindful way. Let’s take a look at seven ways for you to be more mindful on the road so that you can enjoy — and get the most out of — the trip.
1. Change Your Viewpoint. There are plenty of trials when you travel. View them as opportunities instead of hassles. Look at your travel tasks like walking from concourse to concourse and carrying your luggage as opportunities to build your stamina and strength. Waiting for a flight or a train? Take the time to meet other travelers, read or even meditate.
2. Set Your Intentions. Why are you traveling? Answer this question about the purpose of your travel and you can fall back on it when you are feeling overwhelmed. Writing your intentions down helps implant them in your mind. It’s also a good idea to make a list of the three most important things you intend to do on the trip.
3. Be A Voyeur. Whether you are on the way or already at your destination, just sit and watch people. Pick out an individual and make up a story about them. Who are they? Where do they come from and where are they going? What’s their background?
4. Meet The Locals. Ostensibly you are traveling to broaden your horizons. Learning about the local people and their customs is a great way to do this. Find a spot, such as a café, where the locals hang out. If you are in the same area for a number of days, visit this place often. This may seem counterintuitive. But talking with your fellow diners and the wait staff daily helps you dig more deeply into the destination.
5. Focus Your Trip. So many people try to cram too much into one trip. This is a surefire way to stress you out. Slow down. Visit a single destination and really focus on it. Pace yourself so that you don’t get burnt out. Do the excursions that speak to you. Just because you are in Paris doesn’t mean you have to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. You may get more out of a trip to the Gardens and Mansion Houses of the Marais, visiting museums, parks and art galleries.
6. Self-Care. Be sure to take care of yourself while traveling. Dehydration is common when traveling in low humidity airplanes. So, drink plenty of water. Sitting on hard airport chairs and uncomfortable airplane seats is a sure way to tighten up. While you may not feel line drawing attention to yourself by doing yoga in Concourse A, there are some positions you can try discreetly. You can practice the double pigeon to open up your hips. Or, when safely ensconced in your hotel room, do legs-up-the-wall.
7. Be Grateful. Millions of people on the planet never travel more than a few miles from their birthplace. Your opportunity to travel would be a huge blessing to them. Finding things for which you can be grateful while traveling will help you enjoy the trip more and remember it better. People are hardwired to be on the lookout for threats. By looking for new things to be grateful for each day, you are telling your brain to find the positive and to ignore the possible threats. Write down or take photos of the things you are grateful for to further imprint the trip onto your brain.
Keep these seven thoughts in mind while you travel and you’ll have a more mindful and rewarding experience.