There’s nothing quite like the thrill of travel. From experiencing new cultures, eating exotic cuisine, connecting with people and broadening our perspectives, we believe travel to be a vital part of being a wholesome, humble, chill human being. While traversing the globe is certainly thrilling, it can also take a toll on our bodies and minds. Long flights, crammed busses, new faces and unfamiliar sights can seriously distract us from the present. To help keep you grounded on your next big trip, here's some top travel tips to help dial up your mindfulness.
Prepare for the downtime.
Traveling anywhere takes time and patience, no matter how you swing it. Between taxis, trains, airplanes and layovers, it’s easy to feel uprooted and out of control. (Enter nausea, digestive issues, irritability, insomnia, even homesickness.) To help ease into those long legs of travel, there are several simple tricks you can keep in your back pocket. For starters, get some sunlight! Whether it’s walking outside the airport for a few moments or even just sitting in a sunny window, Vitamin D is an instant mood elevator. Carry single serve peppermint tea bags to fight off motion sickness or nausea. Download music onto your phone or tablet ahead of time as to not depend on the internet, and while you’re at it, throw a smaller soft paperback book in your bag. Reading short stories and personal essays while traveling is an easier commitment than reading one long narration--I find it helps breaks up blocks of downtime. Last but not least, if crowds of people or lack of personal space begin to overwhelm you, try closing your eyes for a moment and practicing deep, mindful breathing. Take 10 long deep breaths in your nose, then out your mouth, with an exhalation of at least 6 seconds each round. Added bonus if you inhale some lavender essential oil or rub it on your temples. This too shall pass.
Move your body.
Force yourself to get moving while in transit. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Pass on those moving walkways in your airport terminal. Airports like Chicago O’Hare, London Gatwick, and San Francisco International now have yoga rooms--squeeze in a sun salutation or two! Once you arrive at your final destination take a walk outside, a jog on the treadmill, or do some light stretching. As hard as it may be, there’s no better way to acclimate your mind, increase circulation, and fight jet lag. An added benefit of walking around your destination is the thrill of exploring a new place. But don’t forget, comfortable shoes are key. Save your new vacation sandals for dinner and drinks. As someone who has routinely tried to traverse cities such as Tel Aviv, London, and Paris in heels, I implore you: function over fashion. No one looks cute when they’re limping around, period.
Bring a piece of home.
For far longer than what should be socially acceptable for a fully functioning adult woman, I brought my stuffed animal Snuggles everywhere I traveled. Snuggles provided a source of comfort: her smell, her texture, the feeling of home. Whether or not you have your own version of Snuggles, gather a few special items that will provide a sense of relief when you’re far from home. Whether that’s your favorite blanket, scarf, journal or crystal, having these items along for your journey will provide a steadfast reminder of home.
I’m beyond guilty of being glued to my phone, especially when it comes to travel. Being in contact with my friends and family provides me a sense of comfort in new places, but my phone also serves as my camera lens. While I allow myself to snap photos, I really challenge myself to go on airplane mode for the majority of the day, and I highly encourage you to do so as well. Part of being a truly mindful traveler is being present and in tune with one's surroundings--which is especially tough to do when you’re responding to texts and aimlessly scrolling Facebook. Download maps and save directions in notes before heading out to explore each day. Don’t be afraid to take a mental image instead of a digital one. Sketching in a notebook or recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal is a great way to remain present while traveling as well. Picking up a postcard, textile, or other small memento will ultimately serve as a much more meaningful visual reminder of your trip than that basic Instagram story!
Check in with yourself.
Your old pal anxiety is bound to stop by from time to time when you’re traveling somewhere new. Thoughts like “What if we miss our train?" or "What exactly am I about to put in my mouth?" will arise, and that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to stop and check in with your emotions. How does being in a new place make you feel? Instead of allowing those feelings of insecurity and stress to wash over you, try taking a deep breath instead. Look around, take in your surroundings, and find a quiet place to sit for a moment. Remember that you are in control of your own experience and there’s no better time than the present to re-center. By looking those negative feelings straight in the face, you'll be able to fight them off sooner and you’ll be less likely to sabotage your own experience. Boy, BYE.
It can be tough to combat the desire to run from one destination to another when we’re excited. Learning to slow down is one of the most ultimate ways to become a mindful traveler. Allow yourself to become fully immersed in each new activity on your itinerary, and don’t be afraid to stray a bit from the plan. Part of what makes travel so thrilling is stumbling upon the unexpected, so if you’re a few hours late to that museum or tour, don’t sweat it. Take the time to drink in and savor these moments--you’ll be so much more thankful in the long run!
Any travel plans on your horizon? We want to know your best travel tips and tricks for staying mindful! Share them in the comments below.