There is a reason why we often say that we need a holiday immediately after a holiday. Our expectation of holidays is that we return home fully relaxed. However, how often is this actually the reality? How often do we feel that we come back from a holiday more exhausted than when we went? Luckily, there are ways to make our travel more mindful and relaxing. And whether we are planning a staycation or travelling abroad, being mindful during our holiday will help us truly enjoy each moment and savour the experience.
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What is mindfulness, and how can it enrich our travel experience?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines mindfulness as paying attention to our body, thoughts and feelings, consciously experiencing the present moment. So that we are aware of what is going on both around us as well as inside of us. Living in the present moment helps us to better notice the world around us, the food we taste, the fresh air we breathe, the sea breeze and sand under our feet as we walk on the beach… Whether it’s a staycation or a holiday abroad, mindfulness enriches our travel experience. Mindful travel helps us to better enjoy the world around us.
The ultimate guide to mindful travel
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t look forward to their holidays. Most display so-called pre-trip happiness. A study shows that holidaymakers tend to exhibit a high degree of pre-trip happiness when they are looking forward to their holiday. However, when comparing those who have been on holiday to those who haven’t, it seems that incorporating plenty of relaxing time into our plans boosts the post-trip happiness after your return even further.
Mindful travel will therefore help us to extend the benefit of our time off and increase our happiness. So how do we get the most out of our holiday?
Five mindful travel tips for a more enjoyable trip
1. Planning – a holiday already starts with the planning. There tend to be two types of people when it comes to planning, and it won’t be hard to guess which group I most align with. There are those who plan everything out in the tiniest of detail, and then they are those who travel more spontaneously. I’m still trying to learn to fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve learnt that mindful travel requires me to live in the moment instead of burying my head in the travel guide the whole time. So whilst effective planning is essential, let’s spend less time making checklists and ticking off all the important tourist sites. Instead, let’s observe more and take in what travel offers us.
2. Packing – if there is one thing that I am not looking forward to when it comes to holidays, it’s the packing. I totally admire those who can pack in a few minutes and actually remember to pack what they need. That’s definitely something I would like to learn from my husband. Have you ever heard of light packing? It’s what I’m going to try to do next time we are going on holiday. And I’ve already got the perfect getaway accessory for all the essentials too.
3. Travel without expectations – I always dreamed of going to Paris. So when I actually went there several years ago, I remember that I went with high expectations. I imagined the buildings with small balconies, people wearing berets walking the Parisien streets, cafes full of people chatting… I had the image of a romantic city in my head. Unfortunately, the holiday was a disaster, and I was really disappointed. The problems started upon checking into the hotel and, from the beginning, nothing went as imagined. It wasn’t that Paris isn’t a pretty city, but I realised that I had unrealistic expectations. Not meeting these, unfortunately, impacted my ability to enjoy the rest of my trip. But I learnt from the experience, and from there on, I never go on holiday with expectations. I go and let the destination surprise me with what it has to offer.
4. Limit your must-see/to-do list – surfing through the brochures and travel guides, I often used to pack our holidays with too many things to see and do. I realised this on our last holiday and spoke to my therapist about it. I told her how stressful our day was as I wanted to see so much in the day. We went to do some sightseeing straight after breakfast, then drove to another place afterwards. Whilst walking through the town, my husband wanted to stop to have some lunch. I checked the time and told him it would have to be a takeaway. There simply wasn’t time to sit down and enjoy a meal as there were still many things I wanted to see that day. Talking to my therapist afterwards, it was clear that I hadn’t enjoyed the place as much as I wanted. Instead of switching off and fully appreciating the surrounding, I rushed from one place to another. Together with my therapist, we made a plan. I checked my list for the next day. On it, there were five places I wanted to see. Then I asked myself if that was realistic. Obviously, it wasn’t, so I looked at which two I could leave off and rubbed those out. Then from the three left, I decided which two I definitely wouldn’t want to miss and which one I could give a miss if time became tight. Visiting two places in a day seemed much more realistic than five. “You will have a reason to return and see those places next time,” said my therapist. And she was right. I don’t have to see everything in one day. So I am learning to practice mindful travel and take my time to savour each moment. I don’t feel guilty or anxious about not seeing everything that the travel guide lists, as I am enjoying what I see at that moment.
5. Be open to new experiences – live like a local. Make friends with some locals. I find their recommendations often much better than those from the travel magazines. And I always think if a place is good enough for those in the know, it must be good enough for me to give it a try. So if a restaurant or a cafe is full of locals, it’s a sign for me that I should try it too. Be spontaneous and open to new experiences. After all, that’s what makes travel worth it. Trying new things and learning about new cultures can be so rewarding.
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Boosting post-trip happiness with mindful travel
Following those five tips will help make our travel more mindful. Practising mindful travel adds to our enjoyment and enhances our post-trip happiness. So let’s make our next holiday less stressful, free of botched travel plans, dashed hopes and expectations. Instead, soak into the atmosphere, slow down and take time to appreciate new adventures.
Get some rest to recharge your batteries
Whatever we do, wherever we decide to go for our holiday, it is important to get some rest and schedule some downtime during the day. Alternatively, mix it up and alternate between quiet and busy days. Either way will help to ensure that we’re not left with the feeling of needing a holiday from the holiday itself. Instead, it will leave us refreshed and refuelled afterwards. And with those mindful travel tips, our batteries will stay recharged for longer.
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Please note that whilst this post doesn’t contain any affiliate links, I was graciously compensated for it.
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