How to be more present and mindful while travelling

As we sat at home last Friday night, glass of wine in hand, we found ourselves flicking through our photo album from our 2015 European road trip.

I know, I know, the thought of a photo album that isn’t online seems crazy these days! But there’s something so lovely about holding a physical album and pouring back through the old memories.

As we turned each page more memories came flooding back to us and we began sharing stories and reminiscing.

But there were a few pictures from our long weekend in Milan that really struck a nerve with me as I remembered the way we felt  at that particular time in our journey. We had become tired and complacent and whilst on a day out in the city, we realised we actually weren’t really enjoying ourselves.

We were feeling irritable and mostly taking this out on each other, so we decided to stop and have a coffee and really take some time to reflect on what was going on.

After talking it out, we decided we were no longer going to let the mood bring us down, we were in a fantastic city and there was so much going on. Did we really want to look back on our time in Milan and say we didn’t really enjoy it? Of course not! So it was time to buck our ideas up. And we did…

Travel fatigue is real

When you have a deep interest in travelling and experiencing new cultures, you can often go from place to place with enthusiasm. However, sometimes these destinations can just become a complete blur.

Travelling tired or travelling from place to place without really absorbing what you see can leave you crafting memories that seem to blend into one another, and you feel like you never really got a feel for the place.

As a keen traveller, this can feel deflating – especially if your trip has cost you a lot of money! That’s why we’ve pulled together some tips on how you can be more present when travelling and make the most of every experience.

Spend more time in each place

Assuming you’re not limited by the confines of a weekend, try to spend more time in each place. This is particularly true if you’re travelling long term. When you first start travelling, try to avoid the continual need to move onto the next place.

Instead, wholly embrace a town, a city, or a village. Try to let it soak into you. It’s better to feel completely connected with one place than to move to one hundred different places just to say you did it.

Limit your drinking

Drinking can make even a simple visit feel like a tiring, gruelling thing the morning after. While you should enjoy yourself on vacation, drinking to excess and suffering the consequences can leave you unable to fully experience where you are.

How can you enjoy a beautiful breakfast in a cafe and a nice lounge on the beach if your head is pounding? While you might want to have a few drinks to relax and unwind, don’t ruin the experience for you.  Alternatively, find sober friends to travel with who can keep you on the straight and narrow!

Give yourself time to get over jet lag

Jet lag can be difficult to overcome. Getting enough sleep on the first day, exercising, and having a decent meal can help you feel human again. Give yourself time to snap out of this fatigued state, because we all know how terrible it is when you’re not sure what hour or even day it is!

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

It can be tempting, especially when you haven’t got long in a place, to try and cram every second of the day full with activities. But ultimately, this could just leave you feeling stressed and tired. Plus it means you’ll probably just spend your time frequenting tourist traps.

Slow down a bit. Take a walk off the beaten track and try to find some more relaxed local hang out. Don’t put pressure on yourself to always be busy, otherwise you wont really take in the atmosphere of the place you’re visiting.

Put down the tech

We all want to get that perfect picture for the Gram – of course we do! Plus you want to capture the moment and keep the pictures forever. But once you’ve done this, put your phone or camera away and spend some time being present in the moment.

It’s like those people you see filming an entire concert, did they really enjoy it as much just watching it through their phone screen? The best way to travel more mindfully is to stop, put down the tech and really take a look around at where you are.

One Comment

  • Lizzy

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you have said. I particularly think that slow travel is more satisfying that seeing as many different spots as possible. I have been banning weekend trips abroad from my life last year, except when I go see family. That way I can really slow down on my trips and soak in the local culture and nature.