The season for travel is upon us. (Hip hip hooray!) Whether you’re hopping on a plane, going on a road trip, or enjoying a long weekend, mindfulness is an incredibly easy (and free) way to make the most of the experience.
Remember, mindfulness is about paying attention to your in the moment experience, focusing on what’s in front of you, right at this very moment. It’s been shown to have all sorts of amazing benefits, so why not extend these benefits to your next vacation?
So without further ado, here are five ridiculously simple ways to practice mindfulness while traveling.
1. Put your phone away. It’s easy to roll your eyes at this tip, and think, “yeah yeah, I know,” but this tip matters. Big time. Several weeks ago, I shared a post about just how addicting your phone is. It’s literally designed to grab your brain’s attention, no matter what you’re doing. So no matter how much willpower you think you have, remember that you are a human, and your brain is designed to get distracted by that tiny screen. Put your phone away and out of sight, allowing your full attention to be on the experience in front of you.
2. Experience first. Document second. I shared about this mantra after returning from a trip to Paris. (See that post here.) All around me, I saw people walking up to beautiful gardens and monuments, pulling out their camera before they’d even seen what they were taking a picture of. Wanting to document special places and experiences is great. I’m right there with you! But challenge yourself to really experience a moment first. Be present. Soak up the details. Slow down and take in everything you want from that moment before reaching to take a picture. That mindful moment will last much longer and be more meaningful than any photo you could take.
3. Take your first two bites mindfully. If you’re like me, you practically plan your vacations around food. (Wait, that’s not just me, is it? Please tell me you do this too!) Food can be one of the most memorable parts of a trip, and it’s one of the easiest opportunities to practice mindfulness while traveling. You know why? Because we all have to eat! To do this, make your first two bites mindful and deliberate. Notice taste and texture. Hold your nose over your plate, and take a big breath in, noticing how the dish smells. Take those first two bites slowly; chew with intention. It sounds a little strange, but it’s a quick and easy way to flex your mindfulness muscle. Plus, it will help you remember that dish long after your travels are over. (PS: For an easy tutorial on how to eat anything mindfully, click here!)
4. Use your senses. Have you ever been on vacation, looked around, and thought, “I wish I could make this moment last forever”? Guess what, you can. With mindfulness! Use as many of your five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and texture) to take in the moment. Standing at the top of a gorgeous view? What do you see? Look beyond the obvious; take in all the tiny details. Notice small things; name them. What do you hear? Really listen; there’s probably more to hear than you might think. I practiced mindfulness while traveling, using this very tip, in Hawaii several years ago, and I think it’s the main reason that I can channel that beach at a moments notice, just by going back to that memory. (To read more about how to do this, check out this piece I wrote for Becoming Minimalist.)
5. Upload it later. If you’re a social media user, rethink when you post your images, especially while traveling. I know it’s called Instagram (focus on the Insta part), but you don’t need to upload right this very second. Because that typically involves a filter, a caption, tags, and comments. And all of those things take you out of moment, which is the exact opposite of mindfulness while traveling. Resist the urge to post immediately. No one will die if they don’t see your beach scene in the same hour you took it. Wait until you’ve got some down time or until you’re back at your hotel. No post is worth missing out on the moment you worked so hard to be in.
Practicing mindfulness isn’t complicated. And the benefits are too good to miss out on! So which tip are you going to use to practice mindfulness while traveling on your next adventure?