5 ways to be a mindful traveller

Squeeze (a lot) more out of your holiday with these Zen tips on how to travel mindfully.

Woman hiking through forest
  • Penny Carroll
  • April 2020

As more of us learn to slow down, and live more consciously, the emphasis in travel too shifts to stillness and soaking up the present moment. To make the most of your next holiday, follow these five tips to travel more mindfully.

Engage all your senses

Consciously engaging your senses is a great way to absorb a new place. “Our senses can only exist in the present moment,” says Nikki Janks, co-founder of meditation studio Centred Meditation. “Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your face, smell whatever aromas are reaching your nose and taste what’s lingering from a meal.”

Switch off from technology

Smartphones are a constant distraction, so switch yours to flight mode while you are out and about. “You can still take photos but there’s no need to directly share,” says meditation teacher Ashley Hunt. Set aside half an hour in the day to connect – consciously, of course!

Woman sitting on rickshaw in Hanoi, Vietnam, smiling and holding a camera
Take photographs, but to preserve the memories - not to post on social media immediately.

Be flexible

Leave room in your itinerary for surprises, Nikki suggests. “By letting go of needing to know what you’re doing next, you’re able to be in the present and experience what’s around you, meet locals, or take a chance on a café that’s not in the guidebook,” she says.

Create a travel journal

Keeping a journal of your travels and writing things down promotes gratitude and reinforces memories. Avoid simply logging your activities, Nikki advises. “Write about what you’re feeling, an interesting conversation you had or some insight about the culture you’re in.” Not a wordsmith? Try sketching your surroundings rather than snapping a pic to get present. “It requires you to really see the detail of what you’re looking at,” Nikki says.

Woman sitting by the lake in Queenstown, writing in a journal.
Keeping a journal is a great way to capture special moments from your holiday.

See things differently

Travel often turns into a whirlwind tour of attractions, leaving you with a phone full of photos but sketchy memories. The antidote? “Being curious,” Nikki says. “Go to each place with wonder, asking yourself what made it popular and seeing the beauty for what it is. Try stepping away from the crowd and finding a little place to the side to sit and observe.”