Intentional Traveling and Why It Helps My Soul
There is much we do in our daily routines to practice intentional living. Whether it is being in the moment in a yoga pose, or limiting our time on social media, or being mindful of our breathing. For me, I strive to wake up early enough to give myself a "slow morning", which entails coffee made at home accompanied by fresh-cut fruits toppling over muesli, or warm cinnamon flavored oats. I too, struggle with routine, but this is a ritual I almost never miss.
Rituals are important - they give us rhythm, meaning, and reminders of purpose. But despite our very best efforts at home to live with intention, that rhythm can easily be broken when traveling. Yet if we learn to set intentions with our daily lives, it is most certainly possible to learn to travel with intent too, making each experience much more valuable and meaningful.
I once met someone who told me that all her travel was entirely purposeful. Every trip either served to help build knowledge for her business or it enveloped something she wanted to learn more about.
With this new idea in mind, I started adopting the same conscious approach to my own travel. In a world of social media, it is easy to get swayed by imagery of a beautiful place and book travel on a whim. But beautiful doesn’t always serve us. Intentional travel starts before you even get somewhere. Instead of booking on a whim, take a moment to look inward and assess what you need and alas, setting the intention for travel.
Set Your Intentions
Take some time to discover what you are looking for. What you need more of in your life, or perhaps less of. Or what you would like to learn. Examples:
- I want to practice my French.
- I want to meet new people from different backgrounds.
- I want to reconnect with nature.
When we are more conscious with our intentions, we are able to seek a place that provides us with renewal, respite, or a fresh perspective. This will help you decide between a hiking excursion, or a city break, or going overseas. Or maybe you need a place that offers all three.
These are the exact intentions I set for a trip in August that I booked today.
- Rain welcomed
- Seclusion - time to reflect an enjoy the memories of the first part of the year
Once you decide where to travel, be intentional in what you bring along. It is hard to be in the moment when your back is aching from carrying too much stuff. As someone who is increasingly interested in minimalism, I strive for fewer, better things in many aspects of my life, but especially when it comes to clothing and what to pack. Be thoughtful in what you pack and getting ready will become effortless, allowing you more time to wander and be in the moment.
Listen to & honor your body
It is fair to admit that most of us are likely chronically sleep deprived as it is. When limited time is a factor for your holiday, it is tempting to keep going even if you are running on empty. But it is hard to be in the moment when you are falling asleep in your chair, no matter how beautiful the sunset or how interesting the conversation. Listen to your body and sleep when you need to sleep, drink plenty of water, and pack along some essential oils.
We move so fast that we often forget how to do this. Do not underestimate how good it feels to just ‘be’. With no schedule to hold you accountable, enjoy time in the morning to drink your coffee. Or light candles and have a three hour dinner (the best kind of dinners in my opinion). Ditch the car and let your feet get to know the winding streets of your new town. See the little details you would have zoomed by otherwise. Albeit archaic, walking will always be my favorite form of transportation.
Document the experience
Write it down or take a photo, just so long as it is not entirely taking away from the experience. This doesn't need to be laborious. As someone who has an affinity for reading and writing, I sometimes write quite a bit about a trip but other times I find that a couple of lines also serves its purpose. Don't forget to look inward and take note of how you are feeling, for self-exploration is at the heart of getting away.
Bring it back to now
Too often our hearts ache for somewhere else. I'm terribly guilty of this and I always catch myself thinking things like this is similar to the hike in Norway or this reminds me of that time in...When you catch your mind wandering off without your feet, take a moment to bring it back. Take a few deep breaths and feel your feet connected to the ground beneath you. Remind yourself that this moment, too, is a special view that you may never quite get again.
I hope this post serves as a reminder that there is importance in letting your mind slow when traveling. We can hopefully return re-energized and perhaps with a renewed purpose, but this can only occur when we carve out space and step back. Renewal requires intent.
Most importantly, remember that now is yours. Where will you be heading? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear your intentions.