Do you find yourself distracted while traveling? Not able to remember much of what occurred. Becoming desensitized to traveling? Read this to help save your travel experience.
Think back to the last trip you took – whether it was overseas, or just over the railroad tracks to the next county. How many times did you take your phone out? How many pictures did you take? Where you rushing from one activity to the next?
Now think back to how you felt while you were there. What were the smells like? The sounds? What stood out to you most? Are these questions harder to answer than the ones above?
After taking several trips abroad, I can’t fight the travel bug. The excitement of travel is unparalleled. Being somewhere different, experiencing new foods, meeting new people, and being uncomfortable is exhilarating. Buttt, there’s also a downside.
While traveling, are we allowing ourselves to fully be encompassed by these new experiences, or are we prohibiting ourselves from a transformative moment?
From excessive technology usage to overbooking schedules, we can end up taking the fun and exploration out of travel as we seek to make it a perfected, “I’m getting my money’s worth and seeing/doing everything I can possible do in X amount of time” event.
I’m as guilty as the next person of taking my phone out for a majority of the time I’m traveling. I love photography, so I’m constantly trying to find new angles, even if I’m shooting something as overshot as the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal. I think it’s the essence of having my own photo – that I took, that was a memory from my personal experience at that place. However, as I’ve begun to think more about how I travel, how to keep travel interesting (who knew I’d be saying that – but it’s increasingly easy to become “desensitized” to travel the more you do it), I’ve realized I can spend an exorbitant amount of time behind a screen, instead of letting my eyes take in the scene for me. Example? I took 3,000 photos while on a two-month trip to India.
Now I’m working on taking fewer photos – being more intentional with what I take photos of and not feeling the need to post every moment of my trip on social media. If I’m traveling with a group of friends, we end up sharing pictures. Sometimes it happens that 300 other people decide to visit Sagrada Familia the same time you decided to be there, or the weather is terrible, so you’re picture of its outstanding architectural design wouldn’t turn out as nice as photos you’ve seen on social media. It may be disappointing at the moment, but a picture really can’t capture the emotion of visiting a place firsthand. Don’t stress…
The next time you think you need a photo or video, take a few seconds to think of where you are at that moment. You may only be here once in your life. Don’t take it for granted! Fine tune your senses and take in all those details – the smell of the spicy food, the breeze blowing flowers onto the sidewalk, the family sharing a picnic lunch.
Here are a few ideas for increasing mindfulness on your next travels:
Ways to Practice Mindfulness While Traveling:
Put down the phone!
Ask locals for directions instead of using Google maps. Get restaurant recommendations from the person on the street instead of reviews online. It’s okay to not enjoy a meal every time. The intrigue is in the adventure of finding something new to try.
Take it Slow
Everything is so fast-paced today. We want our food ordered and on the table in 15 minutes or less, traffic nonexistent so we can get to our next location, and everything working in perfect order. But life isn’t perfect! It can be full of frustration, but traveling doesn’t have to be – if we have the right mindset. Maybe your flight is delayed, or the bus is eight hours behind schedule (been there, done that). Instead of looking at delays or cancellations as setbacks, be grateful for what you’re experiencing at the moment. If my bus hadn’t been delayed eight hours on the way to Ladakh in India, I never would have had the chance to take in the scenery around me – the gushing waterfalls falling over the edge of the mountains and the desert valleys surrounded by snowy mountains. Can’t see that back home in South Florida!
Write It Down
If you’re having trouble staying focused on the museum tour or taking in the elaborate details of the historic building in front of you, begin by writing down what you see, smell, hear, and feel. Break your thoughts down into simple, basic statements. What makes what you’re looking at, unique? Why did you travel to see this painting, rainforest, or natural wonder? How would you describe this place to your close friends or family?
A photo can be a nice way to capture a memory, and participating in multiple excursions or visiting multiple museums can be fun, but a truly mindful experience can change your life. Try it. 😉