How to Travel Mindfully

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

how to travel mindfully

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

Slow Down

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.

Social Media 1
Interested in learning more about social media tourism? Read up here on how IG and other platforms are hurting tourism and how to do better.

Get Outside

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.

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how to travel mindfully

8 Comments

  1. June 15, 2019 / 3:11 pm

    If you move to Asheville, be prepared for a best friend that you didn’t even know you had! LOL And you can bring your kids, drink wine, and no one will judge you in my party. This post is spot on.

    We struggled with Iceland and tourists there. I debated what I would tag on IG because I knew how they felt about geotagging. I decided to be vague or not post secret spots. There is this trend in Iceland to wear yellow or red (or some bright color) coats for IG pictures. I read it everywhere. Because of this, you could spot IGers everywhere. Everyone else was in normal wear. And many yellow coats were climbing the icy stairs that were closed, used drones where they were asked not to, or were climbing and killing beautiful landscape that was closed off for its protection. Cameras aimed. Don’t get me wrong: you can still IG and be cool. Wear the yellow coat. Whatever. But there are rules for a reason, and you have to respect someone’s home…and Mother Nature. And why be so obsessive and crazed?

    I agree with you. I read Sarah Moss’ Names for the Sea. She talks about how we are destroying travel by running from place to place to tick off our itineraries and get photos of stuff just to say we were there. She asks readers to think about why we feel the need to do this. This was before the insane IG scene too. I know people want to make a living here but at what cost.

    We saw way too many people f’ing around in Tallinn’s KGB cells too. Really?! Is the peace sign appropriate for that prison cell picture?

    I will be sharing on Twitter. ; ) You aren’t there yet, right? It’s a fun platform to be on, but another platform nonetheless.

    • admin
      Author
      June 15, 2019 / 8:49 pm

      My kids and I will be at all of your parties!! They’re good party dates – I literally took them too the winery today and they were angels!

      The drones KILL ME. And the yellow coats…I really don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb but that’s just me. I’d be the person who ends up wearing one by accident though LOL. I’ll have to read Names for the Sea…that sounds pretty spot on. And I agree, IG can be so, so useful and beneficial if we just actually promoted actual authenticity and responsible traveling. I want to see and do it all, but sharing should be secondary. Maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t influence for a living!!

      So I used to be on twitter…back when I had a different blog.. and I always think about reactivating it. Another platform seems overwhelming but it always seems like a fun one! Since you’re sharing, I’ll give it a try!! And thank you for sharing, too!

  2. June 16, 2019 / 1:06 pm

    Great post! It is especially important this day and age. I am trying to grow my instagram and figure out that world, but I don’t want it to be fake. Or go to spots just for the gram. I definitely want to be mindful!
    Thank you for the reminder!

    • admin
      Author
      July 3, 2019 / 9:17 pm

      Same girl!! I want it to grow but I won’t be inauthentic or do something just for the gram!

  3. June 20, 2019 / 11:56 pm

    Fantastic post! I feel like I’ve had this same convo with Christine many times.

    I never really thought much about this until I started to share my travels on Instagram. It was like a whole new world had been open up. I had flashbacks of our vacation in Santorini. We stayed in Oia for a week; the mornings were flooded with girls trying to take photos in beautiful dresses and the afternoons were flooded with cruisers. I did not understand at the time that there was this influx of people that were just traveling for the sake of the pictures. Now I get it.

    I’m a cruiser. At least I’ve been cruising more the past few years. I try to practice everything you mentioned in your post. Not only because I want to be a mindful and responsible travel, but it’s just the way I travel. I like to venture to spots off the beaten path where those cruisers aren’t going. I prefer to find small business, shop, eat and give back to the local economy. Because I know many are just there taking pics and there is more to the destination than just a pretty picture.

    • admin
      Author
      July 3, 2019 / 9:18 pm

      We love cruising too. I’m like you, I like to leave the port areas and do something a little off the beaten path! Cruising is such a good way to experience so many different places but I think sometimes cruise goers misunderstand that it’s not all eating and drinking and duty-free shopping.

  4. October 17, 2019 / 8:14 am

    A lovely post that’s made me look forward, even more, to my upcoming trip to Italy. I’m staying in a resort a little out of the way, planning to go hiking and get lost in nature.

    I think this will be the first trip I truly embrace mindful travel and I can’t wait!

    • Tori
      Author
      October 18, 2019 / 12:51 am

      It sound perfect where you’re staying! My first really “immersive” mindful travel experience was Vermont – just us and the mountains. Sounds similar =) I hope you have a fabulous trip. We’re going to Italy next year…I’ll have to check out some of your content.

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