Are you wondering how to travel mindfully without giving up must have travel experiences? Keep your bucket-list, and don’t be a tourism douche with these essential tips
With the rise of budget airlines, remote employment, and accessible tourism, travel is growing in popularity. And, hooray, decreasing in price.
Having the means to see the world and experience culture is a fabulous thing. But the popularity and accessibility of travel has its downside.
It’s evident when hoards of cruise ship passengers descend on cities just for the duty free shopping. Or when tourists trample landmarks to get the shot.
The solution is not to stop traveling, but to travel mindfully. Don’t abandon your bucket-list, but recognize your footprint and make more conscious choices.
What is Mindful Travel
You’ve probably heard the buzz words – slow travel, conscious tourism, mindful travel. They’re all one in the same.
Mindful travel is simply applying the principle of mindfulness – staying in the present moment – to your travels.
It’s about allowing yourself to release attachment to your timeline, list, or getting that social media shot. Travel with more of a consciousness – wherever you go. Whether you’re volunteering in Nepal to rebuild schools or visiting Disney World, you can travel mindfully.
How to Travel Mindfully
It took just under 19 months for the fastest person to visit every country in record time. Bucket lists are great. I have mine.
But to travel mindfully, you have to release attachment to the timeline. Don’t do it just to check a box.
Get a little lost. Schedule unscheduled time. Live in the present moment. Stop and smell the rosé…erm, roses.
Put Down Technology
I feel like this should have been number 1, no?
Are you traveling to Greece because you saw a gorgeous IG photo and had to recreate it? Congratulations. You’re part of the problem.
The best travel memories unfold naturally, not for social media. Put down your phone and breathe in the Vermont air. Watch the waves crash under your cruise ship balcony. Don’t climb the Eiffel tower just to get a selfie.
Nature truly sets the stage for mindful travel. Nothing beats a hike in the woods with no cell service or a long walk along the coast. Enjoy the world as it naturally is, before it’s too late.
Find Alternative Destinations or Volunteer
There’s a whole world outside of popular “storybook” villages and metropolitan cities. These popular destinations are absolutely worth a visit, but they’re not the only thing out there.
Find untapped locations that are in tact from a lack of tourism. Do something good, find something different, and make an impact.
Shop and Stay Locally
I can be a bit of a hotel snob as the daughter of a five diamond hotel employee. I love a good luxurious hotel bed.
And I ALWAYS tip…
But I also love a cozy bed and breakfast run by a single, elderly woman and her dog. And mom and pop coffee shops. You know, places where the money truly injects itself into the local economy.
That’s to say big name chains, stores, and tours don’t have a place. Preggo in Paris and want to get through the Louvre queue quick? You bet we went tourist all the way.
But in Saint Lucia, instead of booking a group tour, we opted for a private car (read: random friend of a resort employee) and guide when hiking the Piton mountains. Every ounce of money we spent went towards local families.
Attempt to Speak the Language
I’ve seen Americans throw fits in a French restaurants in France simply for the fact that the waiter did not speak English. Umm, what?
At the very least, learn how to say please and thank you in the local language. Google translate is right there on your phone next to Instagram. Bonus points if you can order wine. Verre de rouge, s’il vous plait.
Don’t Take Photos if You’re Asked Not To
Talk about doing it for the gram. Shakespeare and Company in Paris specifically asks tourists NOT to photograph the inside. Do you think I saw people voyeuristically photographing the inside?
I won’t answer that.
Please respect the request and leave your photos for the outside. Want to do one better? Instead of visiting popular bookstores, for example, just for a photo, actually buy something.
Mindful travel doesn’t just help you enjoy your trip, but it makes you a more responsible tourist. You become a more sustainable traveler because when you slow down, you lessen your footprint on the destination and realize that your presence has an impact. And it can be a good impact, whether you post about it or not.