mindful travel

Decide to embrace the present moment. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Need a Digital Detox? How to Travel Mindfully Wherever You Go

While the word “mindful” might make you think of yoga class or sitting in meditation for hours, it doesn’t have to be that complex. Mindfulness is really just staying in the present moment instead of worrying about what your friend said yesterday or what you have to do later that night.

Mindfulness retreats are becoming more popular these days, but you don’t have to set aside a whole vacation for it — you can travel mindfully wherever you go.

If you think about it, being mindful when you travel is the best way to take in a new place. When you’re fully focused on the present moment, you won’t miss that hidden waterfall or forget the time you saw the “Mona Lisa” in person.

Here are five of our best tips for traveling mindfully, no matter what kind of vacation you’re going on.

1. Put away your phone (or at least put it in airplane mode!)

If you’re on vacation, you should not be worrying about what’s going on at work or with your inbox. You have to disconnect to truly enjoy the present moment. Many people don’t travel to the same place more than once, so spend your time actually seeing the sights.

On the same note, put your phone in airplane mode to stop you from getting distracted by social media. Save it for the end of the day when you are back in your hotel.

mindful travel
Connect with locals on the road. (Photo: Getty Images)

2. Connect with locals

There’s no better way to experience a new place than by talking with people that live there. You’ll get to know a side of the city or country that you wouldn’t otherwise, and it’s highly likely that you’ll find an authentic restaurant or great shop that isn’t overrun by tourists.

If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, pick up a few basic words or phrases and use them. Locals will appreciate your effort.

3. Write in a journal

Write down what you are seeing and experiencing and you’ll remember it all the more vividly later. When you are immersed in the moment, you’ll notice the small details that you’ll never see if you’re rushing around or staring at your phone.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a writer! Even if you only take a few notes here and there, it will be much easier to remember your trip when you get home.

mindful travel
Embrace the spontaneous. (Photo: Getty Images)

4. Be spontaneous

One of the most exciting parts of travel is stumbling upon the unexpected, which is impossible to do if you completely pack your schedule. Of course, make sure you see the main attractions, but give yourself an afternoon (or at least a couple of hours) of free time. Wander the main square, sit in a café and people watch, or see a lesser-known site.

5. Start at home

Staying in the present moment can be beneficial no matter when or where you do it, and starting at home (even for a few minutes a day) will make it even easier when you go on vacation.

Need a few ideas? Put away your phone at mealtime, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or consciously work on one task at a time. Take a walk and leave your phone behind so you can listen to the birds, look at the flowers and feel the fresh air in your face.

Above all else, be easy on yourself. Our minds are used to going a mile a minute, and it can take some time to get used to focusing on one thing and letting the rest go. Do the best you can, and if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your phone or getting distracted, just come back to the moment. It’s called practicing mindfulness for a reason.