Thanks to modern-day technology advancements, it’s never been easier and more accessible to travel. Yet some of those same advancements have made it more difficult to travel in the moment. App alerts, smartphones, innovative attractions and Wi-Fi, while good in and of themselves, often distract from the travel experience. So today, I’m coming to you with some tips on how you can achieve mindful travel.
Read Books About the Destination Before You Go (And Not Just a Guidebook)
It’s no “insider” travel tip that guidebooks are often the reading material of choice for people traveling to a new destination. However, there are other books that can often provide the best context of a destination’s culture and traditions. Non-fiction books and biographies can enlighten in the way of a destination’s language, traditions, history and culture that magazine articles and guidebooks simply can’t. Do some research before your trip, or crowd source, to discover recommended non-fiction books about the destination you’re traveling to.
Lay Out All of the Clothes You Plan on Taking, and Pack Half of It
How often do you actually wear all of the clothes you pack for a trip? It’s probably never. The upside to traveling with less is that you have room to bring back more in the way of gifts and souvenirs, and are less likely to have to check your bag. Less time at baggage claim, more time for traveling. If circumstances call for it, you can often easily have your hotel do laundry, or you can simply hand-wash some of your garments. In that case, pick up a pack of Tide travel sink packets.
Turn Off Phone Notifications
It’s nice to be wanted, but it’s also nice to be present when traveling and not have to think about being wanted because of email, text and social media notifications. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a real thing, but I promise that those emails, texts and social media posts will be there when you return. Not to mention that if traveling abroad, your cell phone bill will thank you. Furthermore, think about taking unplugged trips from time to time. You may be surprised how much you enjoy it. And it probably won’t take as long to catch back up as you may think.
Make Friends With a Local to Show You Around
It’s only natural to walk around a destination with your head looking down at a guidebook, map or phone, lest you get lost or miss something. But in doing so, you may miss what’s going on right in front of you. Important as those things are, think about having a local show you around upon arriving in a new destination. If you don’t know someone already, consider asking for local tour guide recommendations at your hotel, or using a service like EatWith, where you can dine with locals.
Less Selfies, More Sunsets
I recently saw this written on a sign on the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles and didn’t think it could be any more appropriate. But don’t get me wrong, I can take a selfie with the best of them—especially, when it’s at sunset. However, the point here is that despite the temptation of Instagram and Snapchat, we don’t have to document every part of our trip. I remember one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen was on one of my last evenings on the beach in Costa Rica, and after reaching in my pocket for my phone, I stopped myself and decided I just wanted to take it in. Minutes later, a couple stray dogs walked over and sat down beside me to take it in, too. It was a powerful moment.
Buy Local, Handcrafted Products to Bring Home
It’s tempting (and easier) to buy souvenirs and gifts at a major shopping thoroughfare or at the airport before leaving a destination. Often times, however, those gifts are made in another country. Rather, find a market that features local merchants or a boutique shop that sells items from local artists and producers. The quality is often much better, plus it helps support the local culture.
Be Environmentally-conscious as You’re Traveling
This is becoming an ever-important part of travel, as there are parts of destinations that are simply disappearing because of the effects of the environment and heavy use. A great way to think about how to be a more environmentally-friendly traveler is by not only leaving a destination like you found it, but leaving it better than you found it. Before you travel to a new destination, do some research to find out how you can best do that, be it participating in local recycling programs, using conservation-minded tour guides, and using eco-friendly transportation when possible.