By Amie Hamling
Travel is all fun and games, until it’s not. Until the long haul flights, security check after security check, lost baggage, homesickness, general sickness, culture shock. But don’t let that stop you from seeing the world.
The world can seem like a big, scary place when you’re on the road. You’re off-centre, in unfamiliar territory. Your regular routines, and eating and sleeping habits, are thrown off slightly.
Even though traveling is a form of self care, there’s also times throughout your travels where it’s vital to bring it back to you and practice mindfulness when you get the chance. Not only is this an excellent way to beat travel blues, but you can create full, lasting memories beyond the selfies on your iPhone. Be present, every step of the way.
Keep a travel diary or journal.
Record how you’re feeling on your journey in a notebook. Check in each day, even when you’re on top of the world (literally), and write down three things that you’re grateful for that day and on a scale of 1-10, rate your current mood.
Create a playlist for a low mood or homesickness.
Tune out from conversations with other travellers or the hustle-and-bustle of the city you’re in, and tune into a playlist curated just for you. Whether it’s hip-hop or jazz, find solace in the same beats every time your mood drops.
Overwhelm sets in quick when in a new city, especially if there’s a language barrier. Take a deep breath and find a comfortable space to just sit and mindfully watch people go about their day. How often in your daily routine do you get to just be and take in your surroundings? For mindfulness beginners: now is the best time to start practicing, while you have more time to appreciate life as a traveller.
Practice mindful eating.
Curious? Mindful eating is about listening to your body and its needs. Holidays and long term travel can be a great excuse for ditching the diet and forgoing exercise – even more so if you worked really hard pre-travel. Once you’ve gorged on all the pasta, curries or noodle dishes, depending on where you are in the world, you’re going to be left with a food hangover you just can’t shake. Stop, listen to your body, and nourish yourself with meals that will boost you on your journey, not slow you down.
Be a travel photographer.
Take in all the sights through the lens of a camera. You don’t have to have a fancy professional camera to dive into photography; even your smartphone can produce beautiful shots worthy of praise. This practice will allow you to stop and consider the world around you, beyond face value.
Lay off the wi-fi.
Give Facebook a rest for one day, and instead of seeking out cafes and restaurants with unlimited wi-fi, go on a hike, or a long stroll through the city center. Rather than fretting about connectivity, enjoy what’s around you and soak in the atmosphere (often unnoticed by those connected to wi-fi).
Listen to daily meditations.
Whilst your days are unpredictable, make it a non-negotiable to listen to at least one guided meditation per day. Upon waking, spend 5-10 minutes in the moment; try a free online audio from Tara Brach or The Chopra Center to begin your day.
Open up to meeting new people.
Whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner, or in a group, an incredible, soul-enriching part of travel is meeting new friends along the way. You’ll cross paths with people you wouldn’t normally in your everyday life; be open to friendship, conversation and adventures. Restricting yourself to only mingling with a ‘type’ of person can also restrict how mindful you are in social situations – don’t let negative space in your mind ruin your travels!
The golden rule of being a mindful traveller: be flexible. Things will change, including your travel itinerary, so make room for new plans, new countries and new people. You never know what the future may hold.
Bonus tip: When planning an itinerary, allow a few extra days to travel between places. This way, you can learn to be more flexible and find accommodation along the way. Plus, with days to spare, you can fill them in with places you never thought you’d see. And there you have it, a mindful guide to traveling the world. Take each day as it comes. Remember the secret to happy, mindful travels is to: first, care for yourself and second, care for the people around you. Enjoy your trip!