Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword lately. Thereâs mindful eating, mindful drinking, mindful parenting, even mindful walking. A lot of people toss the word around but, ironically enough, few people really stop to think about what âmindfulnessâ actually means. The Oxford English Dictionaryâs definition of mindfulness is âthe quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.â
But how does mindfulness look in practice? Mindfulness is slowing down enough to become aware of the present-moment experiences. When youâre mindful youâre not worried about that make-or-break business meeting next month, or that embarrassing incident when you were ten. You are solidly in the present, accepting your current experience with openness and curiosity.
The Benefits of Mindful Travel
Traveling, no matter where you go, is a gift. Not everyone has the resources to travel. So, if youâre fortunate enough to have the opportunity, youâll want to get the most out of it. Mindful travel can help you do just that. Practice mindful travel means being able to savor the new experiences and create lasting memories. Being open while in a foreign land pushes you out of your comfort zone in a great way.
9 Mindful Travel Tips for your Next Trip
Be Intentional about Your Itinerary
Every amazing mindful travel experience starts with a purposeful itinerary. Take time to do your research and really think about the things you want to see and do. Consider the things you value most and make sure your itinerary aligns with that. For example, if you care about animal rights, make sure the places you goâ whether they be elephant sanctuaries in Phuket or zoos in San Diegoâ really do treat their animals humanely.
Make Room for Spontaneity
When youâre so focused on getting from point A to point B, youâre not truly in the moment.
If youâre not fully present you can miss out on some amazing opportunities to interact with the locals or experience something unexpectedly awesome.
Say youâre in Italy trying to get to the Colosseum, the next stop on your itinerary, when you come across a street fair. Instead of rushing through all the sights, sounds and smells around you, to keep your itinerary on track, why not slow down? Allow yourself to really experience the smell of truly fresh mozzarella, the festive sounds of the organetto, and the joy on peopleâs faces as they peruse the handmade goods of each vender. After all, as the saying goes, Rome wasnât built in a day, and the Colosseum will be there tomorrow.
Remember to Breathe
When you feel yourself getting stressed out about whatâs waiting for you back at home, remember to stop and breathe deeply. Inhale the fresh new air, feel your toes in your shoes and the sun at your back and reconnect with the present. Whether youâre in a country thatâs been on your bucket list for a long time or doing business in an exciting new town, you may never get the chance to be there again. Try not to waste time worrying about the future.
Engage the Senses
From daily commutes and attending Zoom meetings while trying to negotiate with a two-year-old to managing finances and getting the groceries, day-to-day life can get pretty hectic. Itâs so easy to get stuck in your head about things that have to get done and decisions that have to get made.
It’s no wonder why weâre not always aware of what weâre seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling. This is one reason travel is so important. Without the workaday stress of âreal life,â weâve got a chance to slow down and engage our senses in a new place far away from the responsibilities we face at home.
If youâre in Spain, donât just swig the sangria or scarf the paella, savor it. If youâre visiting Kyoto during cherry blossom season, donât just casually pass through. Stop and get up close to the blooms. See the details in the petals and take a good sniff of their sweet, subtle fragrance.
Ditch the Devices
Okay, so donât exactly ditch your devices. We all know how crucial our smartphones can be when it comes to traveling. But you donât always have to be connected.
According to Psychology Today, âBeing plugged into your smartphone creates a state of ‘online vigilance’ where one’s mind is automatically monitoring communications like email, texts, or phone notifications.â
For example, as helpful as our phones can be, they can make it harder to stay in the moment. When youâre standing before the Grand Canyon or in the middle of Turkeyâs Grand Bazaar for the first time, you donât want to be fixated on your emails and Slack messages.
Weâve kind of hinted at this one throughout this post, but it really deserves its own section. When it comes to mindfulness, itâs so important to feel gratitude.
When you travel, be grateful for the opportunities that come your way, the expected, but especially the unexpected. Not everyone gets to see the Egyptian pyramids in person or enjoy an impromptu home-cooked meal in Prague.
These are gifts, and when you travel mindfully you’re showing your appreciation.
Get Curiouser & Curiouser
Treat every new city or country like itâs your own personal wonderland. Donât just exist in a new place, learn from it. Mindful tourism involves being open and curious. We all have our ideas about what itâs like to live in Germany but traveling mindfully will get us closer to the real story. If youâre in Munich for Oktoberfest, take a break from the party and seek out parts and people unknown. Ask the locals about their favorite things to do and see in their city. Let them get hometown proud. Youâll realize pretty quickly that life in Germany is much richer than just schnitzels and bier.
Unsurprisingly, the most comprehensive definition of sustainable travel comes to us from the UNâs World Tourism Organization. âTourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts.â Mindful traveling requires people to be aware of their impact.
There may not be a way to travel green completely, but both airlines and cruise lines are making efforts to reduce their ecological footprint. Find out what your airline is doing to keep flights as eco-friendly as possible.
When you make it to your destination, be mindful about how you interact with the local communities and their ecosystems. Remember, you are a guest in their homeland.
Want more information on eco-tourism? Weâve got you.
Get Peace of Mind with Travel Insurance
While it may not seem like the most obvious choice for this list, hear us out. Travel insurance protects you from the unexpected. When you think about your next vacation, what do you picture? Digging your toes in the pink sands of Bermuda or taking in the view at the top of Machu Picchu? Odds are weâre not too focused on things that could go wrongâ like being stranded at Heathrow after a canceled flight, losing luggage in New York, or getting bitten by a snake in Athens. But those are just the kinds of things travel insurance is designed to help cover.
If youâre traveling abroad and suffer an injury or contract an illness like Covid, travel medical insurance coverage can help. The insurance helps you get urgent medical care without the crushing debt. This is especially important for visitors to countries like the United States, where medical costs are very high.
Trip insurance is there to help protect you against expenses related to cancellations, delays and missed connections as well as lost, delayed or damaged luggage.
Whether youâre traveling the globe or keeping trips closer to home, travel insurance makes it easier to stay relaxed and in the moment. And thatâs exactly what mindful travel is all about.
Have Questions about Travel Insurance?
If youâre curious about travel insurance and want to learn more, VisitorsCoverageâs award-winning Customer Success Team of licensed travel insurance experts is happy to help.