How to be a mindful traveller
If you’ve ever wanted to practise mindfulness but never been sure quite how, travel is the perfect
time to give it a go. Travel is a personal pursuit, and so is mindfulness (no one else, after all, is in
your mind), which means the pair go hand-in- hand. Here are just a few ideas of how you can be a
mindful traveller throughout the journey: before, during, and once you return.
Focus on your intentions
Before your embark on your travels, make an effort every day to remind yourself why you’re making
the trip. What are you hoping to do, or hoping to gain? It might be as simple as wanting to relax; it
might be something more complicated. Either way, reinforce your intentions by telling people about
them, or writing them down. If you do the latter, look back at them every day before you head off.
Vipassana is the ancient Indian art of seeing things how they are. In meditation, it can apply to
focussing on your physical sensations – the sweat on your upper lip, the ache in your neck – which in
turn calms the mind. In everyday life it involves being aware and observing, but not reacting. When
travelling, it’s important to always be aware of yourself, your surroundings, and other people.
Speaking of people, people-watching is one of our favourite things to do when we travel. When you
start to lag, find a place to sit and observe people as they walk passed. What are they wearing? Do
they look stressed, or happy? Where do you think they’re going? Being inquisitive engages your
mind and imagination and opens your eyes to the world around you.
Take it slow
If you’re going from place to place, your mind will find it difficult to process. Make an effort to slow
down during your travels, whether that’s enjoying a meal, or taking a leisurely hike. Chew your food
slowly, savour the fizz of your drink, or the warm sensation of the wine as it works its way down your
throat. Stop every few minutes during your hike to observe the world around you. Basically, give
your mind time to absorb all the wonderful things you’re experiencing.
Keep a journal
After every day, make a note of what you did. Who did you talk to? Did you encounter anything
unusual, anything fun? Did you have to overcome a sticky situation? By keeping track of your daily
adventures – even if that is just lounging by the pool – it captures moments and memories you
might otherwise forget.
As tempting as it is to record everything through social media as it happens (#funinthesun
#holidayspam), checking how many likes your instagram upload has will prevent you from living in
the moment. Turn off your email alerts, put your phone on ‘do not disturb’. Enjoy the opportunity to
detach yourself from technology and embrace nature through your own eyes rather than a camera lens. Although if you must take photos, wait until the light is just so in the evening ‘golden hour’ –
Resist the temptation to mope, and instead reflect. If you kept a journal, savour the experience of
reading it back. If you took photos, try to remember how you felt in that moment; what you said just
before the moment was captured. Also, did you learn anything? If so, consider how you’ll
incorporate what you learned into everyday life. Did you vow to make a change when you returned?
Put it into action. The end of your travels is just the beginning of a new adventure… and a case of
counting down before the next.