5 Ways to Bring Mindful Travel into Your Life

Last updated November 14, 2023

The best way to truly enjoy your wellness vacation — or any vacation for that matter — is to savor the moment. If you’re not sure how to make space for the here and now, these five tips for mindful travel will surely help shift your mindset. 

Most wellness travelers would probably tell you that anytime they travel they are looking to embark upon not only a rejuvenating and replenishing vacation but a more meaningful travel experience overall. 

But what exactly does it mean to have a meaningful experience and how can we go about ensuring that we get one when we travel? One way that I work with my coaching clients to create such experiences is by helping them approach their travels with a more mindful mindset.

Read on for my top five tips on how to bring even greater meaning into your wellness vacation through mindful travel. 

Why Mindfulness and Travel?

The world-renowned mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says that “the core invitation of mindfulness is for you to befriend yourself.” When we embark upon mindful travel, the idea is that we befriend ourselves through our experiences.

This can be achieved by paying close attention to the present moment, fully absorbing it, savoring it and accepting whatever it’s offering with an open heart and an open mind.

When we do this, we turn the present into a highly meaningful moment that inspires curiosity, insight and transformation. These mindful moments can have a powerful impact on our overall well-being.

The great thing about bringing mindfulness into your wellness trip is that it doesn’t require you to sit in meditation for 20+ minutes a day trying to “quiet” your mind. It can be as simple as noticing the current moment with greater awareness, acceptance and appreciation than you normally would.

These then become the moments that can enhance your wellness vacation, transforming it from a relaxing trip that feels physically and mentally revitalizing, to a holistic and wholehearted experience that nourishes your soul.

Mindful Travel Five Ways

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help us stay connected to the now during our travels. Start with the practices below and you’ll be on your way to a more meaningful wellness vacation in no time.

1. Take Daily Walking Meditations

A walking meditation involves you going for a very intentional walk during which you pay close attention to, not only the physical act of walking and your sensory experience, but also to your emotional and mental reactions as you walk. Ideally, you find a peaceful location, indoors or outdoors, where you can walk 15-20 paces back and forth undisturbed.

The goal isn’t to get anywhere, just to deeply connect with your present-moment experience. Start with five minutes. Once you feel comfortable with that, you can build up to a ten-minute daily practice.

Notice how much more aware and appreciative you become of your surroundings after just a few of these walking meditations. It’s quite remarkable!

2. Practice Mindful Movement 

Mindful movement can be any type of gentle movement where you are closely noting the sensations in your body and exploring your somatic experience. Yoga is a great example. But if yoga isn’t your thing, there are many other options, such as stretching or Pilates, that will also give you access to your somatic wisdom.

You could try tremoring, which is a powerful practice during which you consciously shake your body, starting at your feet and slowly moving up toward your head. Ecstatic dance, where you just let your body respond to the rhythm of the music in whatever way it desires, is another.

The key to reaping the benefits of these mindful movement practices is embodiment. This means that you experience the practices in your body, instead of through your mind.

3. Lean into the Power of the Pause 

Most of us live primarily on auto-pilot, adapting to our fast-paced, highly stimulating world by taking intentional thought and conscious response out of the equation and just reacting to whatever comes our way. While this may be an effective survival mechanism for keeping up with the hustle and grind, it’s not very beneficial for our nervous systems or our overall mental and emotional well-being.

Taking an intentional pause every now and then is a truly life-changing practice. It creates space for our bodies to catch up to our minds and give us some feedback so that we can choose how we’re going to respond in a given moment.

Find a few small moments throughout your day that could trigger a mindful pause where you stop and get curious about your sensory and emotional experience.

4. Activate Your Superpower… Breathing 

Did you know that you have a superpower that you were born with and use every day? Breathing is the easiest, fastest and most effective tool we have to regulate and tone our nervous systems. Different kinds of breathing send messages to your brain about what’s happening in your body and your brain will respond accordingly.

Fast, shallow breathing will activate your sympathetic nervous system and your brain will get triggered to think that it’s “fight or flight” time which, in certain instances, might be appropriate. Slower, deeper, fuller breathing will send signals to your brain that all is well and you are safe, engaging your parasympathetic nervous system for “rest and digest”… which is probably where you want to be during your wellness vacation.

Using simple breathwork practices on a daily basis will help you cultivate this superpower for a greater measure of control over your nervous system.

5. Engage Your Five Senses

It’s not uncommon for us to rely on just one or two of our senses. However, can you imagine how much we are missing by only taking in the world through a couple of our senses instead of leaning on all of them?

Travel presents an ideal opportunity for us to consciously engage all five senses for a more complete and fulfilling experience. When you embark on a more meaningful journey, such as a wellness vacation, you presumably want to absorb and integrate as much of the experience as possible.

A simple way to do this is a short practice called Awareness of the Senses, where you start by noticing five things around you that you can see, then four things that you can feel, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and lastly, one thing that you can taste.

Taking in what’s happening around you with your Sight, Hearing, Smell, Touch and Taste will allow you to create an integrated mindful travel experience that you can appreciate more fully. 

How to Be a Mindful Traveler

Choose one or more of these mindful travel practices to take with you on your next wellness vacation for a more purposeful, meaningful and impactful trip.

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