There are so many different reasons that people love traveling. Some enjoy the luxury of resorts, soaking up the sunshine in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. Others prefer budget backpacking with a little more freedom to move around. Some prefer luxury cruises, while others want to holiday while working in remote locations to help communities.
When it comes to travel, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. All of your adventures are down to personal preference, so whether you love snapping selfies in front of famous landmarks or you’d rather stroll the streets of small country towns and meet the locals, it’s totally up to you.
However, today we’re talking about the idea of mindful travel, and what it means to really immerse yourself in a destination. If you’ve been struggling to find a deeper meaning in your overseas adventures, you’ll definitely want to learn more about mindful travel.
What is mindful travel?
Mindful travel gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself more deeply in a location. We talk a lot about storytelling when it comes to mindful travel because most parts of the world have some magnificent stories to share.
When you travel mindfully, you’re less concerned about the flashy Instagram-worthy side of travel, and more focussed on learning about the local history, culture, customs, and stories of the community.
When you travel mindfully, you’re a guest of the land and the local people. You have a genuine interest in community stories, and your travel experience can also lead to significant personal growth.
Through learning and a deeper immersion into local cultures, you return home with new knowledge and a deeper appreciation of the world around you.
Deeper immersion into a destination
Often, when you touch down at a destination, it’s straight to the hotel and then off to explore the local landmarks. Time is often an issue because you might be rushing to see everything in one city before skipping to the next one.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t give you the opportunity to really immerse yourself in the local culture.
With mindful travel, you learn more about the history, culture, customs, and stories behind each place you visit. You talk to locals, participate in community activities, you hear stories of the past. Ultimately, your travel experiences give you a greater appreciation for the ‘real’ side of a town, city, village or country.
Appreciating the world’s diversity
When you involve yourself in more meaningful travel experiences, you don’t just help yourself. You’re also learning more about different cultures and different ways of life. Some might be considerably different from your own way of life, which is all part of the journey.
By taking the time to learn, you begin to understand not only that other countries and cities are different, but you also learn why, and the significance of those cultural differences.
Be a guest of the land
When traveling mindfully, you develop a strong understanding that you are a guest of the land you’re visiting. Rather than viewing somewhere as a holiday destination, you approach each journey with gratitude that you’re being accepted into someone else’s land and culture.
Being open to personal transformation
Mindful travel has a way of changing perspectives. The reality is, life is different all over the world, and there are so many different cultural nuances and ways of life to discover. When you travel mindfully and embrace these differences, you set the stage for a period of personal growth.
It’s easy to become sheltered in our daily lives, not really appreciating how lucky we are. Even in our travel experiences, it’s tempting to stick to sightseeing and luxurious hotels. But when you deeply experience other ways of life, you open yourself up to a life-changing journey.
To travel with storytelling
Most people can read history books, for example, to find out when and why the Eiffel Tower was built.
But there are so many incredible stories all around the globe, and often they can be found in smaller places. Destinations that might not necessarily be on everybody’s itinerary.
By learning the stories of different people’s lives, their heritage, and the history of the world’s smaller towns, you get to enjoy a more meaningful, often extremely uplifting travel experience.
Why is mindful travel so important?
As we mentioned at the start of this article, travel means something different to everybody. For those travelers who want a more enriching, more engaging travel experience, mindful travel can be a life-changer. Here’s why.
Mindful travel serves the traveler and the destination
Travel can sometimes feel selfish. Especially if you splash out on fancy resorts and treat the destination as your own personal playground. But the reality is, mindful travel helps both the traveler and the people of the chosen destination.
For the traveler
We’ve already touched on what mindful travel can do for the traveler, with some of the key points being:
- A more immersive and meaningful travel experience
- An opportunity for personal growth
- Understanding of different cultures
- More unique travel experiences
Alongside these benefits, the traveler also gets a great feeling of satisfaction, knowing that their journey also helps the lives of people at their destination.
For the destination
Mindful travel experiences can be found anywhere, from the biggest cities to the most remote villages. It’s fair to say that most major tourist destinations don’t explicitly need your travel dollars. But for smaller cities and communities, the time and money you spend there can be equally as rewarding.
Sharing a deeper understanding of culture and history
Consider venues that may not necessarily be on the main tourist map, such as Kenya or Jordan. In the western world, many of these cultures and communities are wildly misunderstood, with most people not taking the time to learn about life in these locations.
But when you visit, and you show a genuine interest in the people and the culture, you often find they’re more than willing to share their life with you.
In fact, smaller communities around the globe are usually a lot more welcoming, because they love the chance to share their history and way of life with the rest of the world.
Money going back to local communities
When we talk about mindful travel, it’s not about donating large sums of money to local communities. The experience is a lot deeper than that.
However, one of the by-products, especially when you visit smaller communities, is the financial benefit. You don’t need to go throwing money around, but the dollars you do spend there are of great help to the people and business owners of that region.
How to access mindful travel experiences
One of the reasons that many travelers don’t get to enjoy more mindful experiences is that they are simply less publicized.
When you shop for round-the-world flights, the options are usually major tourist destinations, and the smaller regions often get left off the map. But these mindful travel experiences are out there if you know where to look.
Postcard – hotel and tour directory
Postcard is essentially a search engine for mindful travel. They have a tour and a hotel directory where visitors can find boutique hotels and travel designers who curate experiences with the local stories of their lands. Postcard offers immersive, meaningful travel experiences in many parts of the world.
From learning the story of the Cholitas in Bolivia to visiting and helping communities in Uganda, there really is something for everyone.
With so many different stories to tell around the world, Postcard taps into the hidden beauty of less-walked pathways. Best of all, it’s not just about checking out the sights.
You will get opportunities to really immerse yourself in local culture and learn all about them.
Read destination stories to be inspired
Another way to find more meaningful travel experiences is to simply do your own research.
While the above option with Postcard is a lot easier due to tours being planned for you, there’s no reason you can’t discover stories from around the world and head off in search of adventure.
Even looking for stories from other travelers who have made similar trips is a great way to get inspired for your own journeys.
Connect with the hotel or tour to learn more
Finally, once you’ve arrived at your destination, the experience you have is in your own hands. If you’re staying at a local hotel or participating in tours, lean on them for more information about the local area.
Provided you take the necessary safety precautions, you can of course explore places your own way, spending time with locals and learning more about the different stories and history of the region.
How to incorporate mindfulness into travel
If you’ve been inspired to take a different approach with your next travel opportunity, here are a few tips for incorporating mindful travel into your journey.
Read about the local stories
They say knowledge is power, and in this case, knowledge gives you the power to explore, learn and discover things you may never have even dreamt of. There are stories everywhere you go, so if you’re planning a trip to a specific region, try to dig a little deeper.
This is much easier once you get there, of course, but by thoroughly researching a destination beforehand, you may find some interesting opportunities to immerse yourself more fully into the location.
Respect the land
Perhaps the most important thing when mindful traveling is to respect the land. Remember that you’re a guest of the land you’re visiting, and if you show the proper respect to the land and its local communities, you’ll almost certainly be welcomed with open arms to immerse yourself into their culture.
Travel with an open mind
Itineraries are great, and you should always have some key things organized, such as return flights, transfers, and accommodation. But once you arrive, it’s important to approach everything with an open mind.
Ultimately, travel is what you make it, and when you travel mindfully you have a much greater opportunity to expand your mind and your outlook on the world.
Embrace opportunities to interact with locals
As we previously mentioned, if you travel with an open mind and respect the place you’re visiting, most communities will be extremely welcoming.
Most people around the world love sharing their culture with visitors from abroad, so if you get an opportunity to interact with locals, take it.
Naturally, you need to ensure your own safety at all times, but if you feel an experience will help you learn, grow and understand more about the culture, it’s a great opportunity to take.
Read also: Surf Mindfulness
Focus on where you are, not where you’re going next
Finally, one of the key aspects of mindfulness in general is to always be present in the moment.
So, when you travel, try to maintain a strong focus on where you are right now. If you’re visiting multiple towns, cities, or countries, it’s easy to look ahead to the next adventure, but this often prevents you from fully immersing yourself in the current experience.
Take your time, and enjoy what mindful travel has to offer.
As a serial entrepreneur for the last 22 years, Amit has started multiple companies across industries such as consumer tech, retail, agri tech, fine art, and travel.
He is passionate about creating and empowering communities to bring about change in the status quo. He founded Postcard when, as a traveler, he found it difficult using conventional channels to find luxury hotels and tours that promoted responsible tourism.
He also believes responsible travel starts with building empathy and educating people about the people and places they visit and is on a mission to build the world’s largest collection of local stories about people and places.