If you checked the internet recently or opened a self-help book, you must have come across the word “mindfulness”. Even though it’s a simple concept, not many people know what it actually means. Long story short, mindfulness is the practice of staying in the moment and focusing on the things in front of you.
A modern human is surrounded by distractions every single moment—from chiming phones to emails and blazing televisions. So it can be hard to focus attention to what really matters. That’s why mindful travel is gaining popularity quickly because it allows and encourages people to concentrate on experiences to the fullest and step out of their busy heads.
If you’re looking to get out and enjoy the world, but want to truly decompress and find zen, this how you can infuse mindfulness into your travels.
SEE ALSO: 5 Misconceptions About Yoga
Pick the right destination
While you can practice mindful travel anywhere you go, there are destinations that are naturally blessed with relaxing scenery, gorgeous sites and friendly people who will boost your mindfulness.
Costa Rica is the world’s center of eco-tourism. So, if you want to experience untouched nature and see people live in perfect harmony with Mother Earth, make sure to check out this Central American country. It’s full of breathtaking scenery from ancient rainforests to long, sandy beaches and hot springs. Costa Rica is one of the best places to unwind and experience a simpler life.
Thailand really has everything a mindful traveler might need: a rich culture and history, naturally beautiful and serene atmosphere. So whether you want to seek peace in a Buddhist temple or relax at the beach, Thailand is a place to visit.
Mount Sinai in Egypt is truly a magical place. It’s a spot that holds a special place in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions, but it will also blow away everyone who enjoys beautiful landscapes. If you’re up for a spiritual quest, you can join pilgrims and walk uphill and welcome the new day right on the summit of the mountain. The rising sun is a sight that will leave you speechless and perfectly content.
Don’t fight jet lag
No matter the destination you choose, don’t fight your natural responses, no matter what they are. Jet leg is completely normal, so take it as a blessing. It will allow you to experience many things other people might miss. If you happen to wake up long before dawn, don’t hesitate to go outside and take in all the peace and quiet of the streets. Distant chatter, a lonely vendor and a few shy bicycle bells will be all you hear. As the sun rises, you’ll get to witness the city waking up. Without jet lag, you might never experience anything like that, so don’t try to fight it!
One of the main principles of mindful travel is sustainability. What you should aim to achieve is leaving the place the way you found it or even improve upon it. So, if you’re planning a cross-country road trip this spring, leave your gas-guzzling car at home and opt for something less polluting like an electric car or a hybrid.
The Internet can help you with your choice a lot. Check out Drivr Zone blog where you can find plenty of useful information about eco-friendly cars and find out about their benefits. They also offer additional sources so you can study everything in depth.
Also, make sure to recycle and produce a minimal amount of waste. Reusable bottles and bags will be your best friend on your trip!
Eat mindfully and slowly
One of the best things about travel is definitely the world of new tastes, cooking techniques, and ingredients that unravel before you. So don’t rush but practice mindful eating. Make sure to savor the tastes, enjoy the textures and take in all the seductive smells of the food in front of you. Try to analyze every single bite and distinguish different ingredients. Chew carefully and thoroughly, breathe slowly, and let your mind enjoy the experience.
If you’re a speed-eater, try grabbing chopsticks or use your non-dominant hand to eat—this will slow you down. You’re guaranteed to enjoy your food much more AND prevent overeating.
Switch to an old-school camera
If you’re one of those tourists who never let go of their smartphone, invest or borrow an old-school camera with film. This will not only add a physical note to your experience (you have to carry your camera, adjust it and think about the photography process), but it will also make you more mindful of the photos you take.
You won’t have unlimited storage, so every photo needs to be considered and studied carefully. You’ll pay more attention to your surroundings, lighting, and your backdrop. It will encourage you to stay more present and push you to explore your destination more carefully. This is what being mindful is all about!
Stop and breathe
There’s a neat little acronym you can use every time you notice you’re losing focus and getting lost in your head. Remind yourself to be mindful by saying “STOP”! The S reminds you to stop, T reminds you to take a break, O reminds you to observe your surroundings and P encourages you to proceed with more mindfulness.
This process takes you only a few short moments, yet it provides people with an easy way to snap out of it and aim their focus to the present experiences.
No matter how well-traveled you are, the mindful way of travel will make you experience destinations in a new and much deeper way. You’ll notice much more during your trip and connect to your destination and your fellow travelers in a way that will bind you together for life. Plus, when you come back home, you’ll feel completely rejuvenated, relieved of stress and ready to tackle all obstacles life might throw your way.