If you searched Instagram, you'd be hard pressed not to find people boasting about their travels - how many countries they've been to, how their life of travel is awesome, and how you should do it too. Instead of designer handbags and fancy cars, travel has become the new "it" thing to showcase status. People are in search of over-the-top experiences, stories to tell to share with their (Instagram) audiences and low-key bragging rights. There's nothing wrong with those things (well bragging rights, maybe), but it has to make you wonder...is travel for the sake of travel just another form of consumption?
According to Dictionary.com, mindfulness is defined as "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique." Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years in religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. However, it has become popular in recent years as people are living increasingly busy lives and meditation has become a popular coping tactic. So how can you incorporate mindfulness into your travels?
1. Set your intentions.
Before your travels begin, think about what you want to accomplish through your trip. Do you want to use your vacation to relax and reset? Or to party like there's no tomorrow? Whatever the case may be, setting your intention before you travel will help you to remain true to the purpose of your trip.
2. Absorb your surroundings.
I specifically remember being in South Africa and being so excited to share with my audience everything I was experiencing. Good food, good people, good vibes. But I was missing it all because I was too busy on my phone instead of taking in everything happening around me. I caught myself, put my phone down, and completely took South Africa and all of its awesomeness in. While it is important to document your travels, don't forget to take a minute to internalize the moment you're in and express thankfulness for it.
3. Write in a journal.
Before your day begins or ends, take a moment to reflect on how you're feeling and what you're thinking about where you are. You'll be able to look back on those thoughts and feelings and remember the time and place for better or for worse. Either way is a learning lesson.
4. Be still.
Have you ever just taken a moment to sit and be still in the moment? Sometimes the ins and outs of travel can happen so quickly that we can forget to just take a moment to ourselves. Sit. Be still. People watch. Whatever it takes to just be in the moment.
The more I travel, the more I've felt it is important to travel with intention...to travel more mindfully. In the age of mass social media consumption, it can be hard to remember that travel is a privilege and a gift. Don't squander it trying to front for the 'gram.