How to Travel Mindfully & Purposefully

We’ve all had to endure a life without travel for WAY too long. Some of us are still even in quarantine. If you are, feel free to keep reading to prepare yourself for your next trip when the coast is clear. If the coast is already clear, and you’re thinking about traveling, then these tips are for you. You can even apply some of these tips on your next stroll through the neighbourhood – making a mindful walk.

Making the most out of your next trip is entirely in your hands. Mindful traveling, practising gratitude, establishing a clear intention & purpose are some of the practices and tools you can use to fully engage in your next trip and make it the best one so far.

I’ve had some requests about writing more about mindfulness, but also about travel. So I thought: why not intertwine these two? After all, that’s what Ana Seas The Day is all about: transformative travel, being mindful & purposeful in your inner and outer journeys.

Set a clear intention

Before you pack your bags and head out to your newest destination, full of excitement and motivation, make sure to set your intention. It will help you become more clear about what you want to achieve during your trip, and how you want your trip to go. There are plenty of things we cannot control when we travel, but there are numerous things we can control, such as our mindset, how we react, our problem-solving skills, keeping our calm, enjoying the little things,…

Setting your intention looks like this:

During this trip, I promise to myself I will… enjoy the little things / go with the flow and let go of what I can’t control / focus on treating myself / …

When we set an intention, we mentally prepare ourselves to a certain outcome, behaviour or mindset, which we can carry with us and will help us come back to the centre, to the core, whenever we are faced with challenges or difficulties. It’s like having an anchor to come back to. You can also write it down as a mantra.

Define your deeper purpose of travel

We all have a deeper reason to travel. For some, that might be relaxing, escaping from your daily life, seeking adventure or seeking your soul. We can change our reasons, according to what we are going through in our lives right now. We might seek different things from our trips a year ago than we do now.

Take a moment and write down an answer to these following questions to figure out why you travel. This will not only help you in getting to know yourself, but it will also help you in planning your trip & getting the most out of it. When we know what we want, and why we want it, we can align our activities, destination & travel company (solo?) with it.

Dig deep and reveal your deeper purpose of travel:

  • What have I missed most about travel?
  • How has travel changed me, or touched me in any way?
  • What are some of the things that I seek for in my trip? Guidance, clarity, relaxation, adventure, myself?
  • Besides from money, time or any other factor, how would my ideal voyage look like right now?
  • Why would this be the ideal trip – what would be the main reason for its success?
  • Write down how you want your trip to go in detail

You can turn this exercise into a visualisation exercise. With the last journalling prompt, close your eyes and imagine yourself being there. What do you feel? What do you see? Smell? Hear? Taste? How does your environment look like? How do you feel, deep inside you?

Visualisation teaches your brain to recognise what resources it will need to help you succeed in reaching your goals. Or, in this case, fulfilled your deeper purpose of your trip.

Practise mindfulness

Mindful travel is the next big thing- here’s why:

  • it allows you to fully tap into the moment, into the here & now, to stop living on auto-pilot and start living with full awareness
  • it allows you to regulate your emotions by training your mind to step out the reacting-without-thinking-mode, into a mindful way of witnessing what’s going on, through taking a step back & reacting from a higher place
  • it allows you to become an observer of your reality, rather than a server, meaning: stop living in the victim mode by stop labelling and judging all of our feelings and emotions, and instead allowing them to be fully there and witnessing them with a mindful mind (without any judgement and with lots of compassion)

Now, who couldn’t use these qualities in their overall life, never mind trips? Release distractions and be fully aware in the moment, with all your senses, so that you fully seas the day. It is, of course, a practice, and you cannot be 100% aware all the time. We are human and that is only normal. Thoughts float in, feelings ask for our attention, and the world around does so too.

So, how can we incorporate mindfulness in our lives? I wrote a blog post just about that: a beginner’s guide to mindfulness. You’ll notice, after a while of practising mindfulness or mindfulness meditation, that when you live less on auto-pilot, you start to approach situations, feelings, thoughts, conversations – your while life – with a state of compassion, acceptance, and non-judgment. And we can all use a bit more love and compassion in this world, don’t you think?

Practise gratitude

Shifting from love & compassion and non-judgment, we move on to gratitude. Gratitude is a crucial part of living a happy, fulfilled life, and making your trip even greater.

Whenever you feel like something didn’t add up to your expectations, and you feel this feeling arising – notice it, but don’t become it. Try to shift your perspective and see what you do have right now, what is working out for you, and what lesson you can learn from this feeling.

Imagine this: your flight is delayed, and you already booked transportation to your hotel, which now you will be missing. You feel frustration coming up. You lost some money, and time. You just want to get out of the airport and be at your destination. Take a deep breath.

Traveling is about the journey, too. Try to remind yourself how lucky you are right now: you are safe, healthy, traveling, in an airport, waiting for a machine to FLY you to a new destination. Your heart is beating. Maybe you are with a loved one. Try to come up with things you can be grateful for, that day, or what this situation is teaching you. In this case: you did well preparing everything, but try to think before you react. Contact the company with whom you booked with. Tell them about the delay. Maybe they can wait for you, or cancel it or postpone it for free. If not, that’s okay. Draw the lesson that you cannot plan or control everything (and that a flexible cancellation is always key). 😉

Building up resilience and gratitude will shift your mental state in huge ways -you will preserve your energy, instead of giving it all to a situation that doesn’t deserve it.

Think about it – how often is your day ruined by just a small thing that did not happen in your favour?” I woke up and hit my toe. I am having such a bad day. Our plane is delayed. What an awful day. I am having such a bad day today. I just fell!” We tend to stay in that spiral of negativity, when sometimes small came to interrupt our day.

The key is to not get caught up in this, but instead approach it with mindfulness (observe it, take breath, and send love and compassion to yourself), and to guard your state of gratitude. Learn the lesson, feel the pain of hitting your toe, laugh it off, and continue your day. Don’t take it all so seriously. You have the power to control how you react, thus how your life will continue from that moment on.

Travel slow

You wake up on your first morning of vacation. Instead of grabbing your phone and getting lost in the digital world, take a moment to breathe. Breathe in the air of your new destination, the room, maybe you can even smell outside – food, flowers, fruit, the ocean smell,… How do the sheets feel? What do you see when you wake up? What do you hear? Maybe you hear the local merchant shouting, selling his fruit. Maybe you hear scooters or cars driving around (and honking a lot, if you’re in Italy 😉 )

Take a moment when you are strolling to notice how the ground feels, how the sun burns on your skin, how the wind gently strokes upon your cheeks.

Notice the people around you, the detailed design of the buildings or attractions.

Taste your food and drinks with full awareness. Savour it. Enjoy it. Live it.

Traveling slowly is more than just not hurrying or rushing through your day – it is taking the moment to really be where you are. To use all your senses to ground yourself in the moment, to enjoy and savour your experience.

I genuinely hope these tips will help you in turning your next trip into an amazing one. You deserve it. And remember: with every step you take externally, you shift & move forward within yourself internally, too. That’s what travel is about. Open your mind, travel mindfully, and savour every experience. Setbacks, failures & disappointments are there to teach us. Whether the lesson is to be more mindful, present or to get a flexible cancellation next time ;), learn the lesson and move on. And always, always travel with a deep purpose.

As your travel coach, I am here to guide, support & empower you on your inner & outer journeys. Schedule your free coaching interview with me now to start living a purposeful & intentional life.