Mindful travel: Not just the latest fad, but a rewarding experience
TRAVEL these days is a lot different than it was even a decade ago. More often than not, our plans are arranged online, we navigate new terrain using Google maps, we pick our restaurants on TripAdvisor and rush through as many attractions as we can fit in to our limited time, desperately trying to squeeze the most out of every moment.
Except in our desperation to achieve everything, we rarely appreciate anything. Taking a more mindful approach – unplugging and focusing on the here and now – can give you a new awareness and deeper enjoyment of your travels.
Here are a few tips help you put down the screen, see the local culture and re-engage with the world around you:
Venture into the unknown and use public transport
For most of us, the first instinct when we want to get somewhere abroad is to reach for our phone. With ride-hailing apps like Uber available pretty much everywhere these days, jumping in a car and fast-tracking your way to a destination is always tempting.
But taking public transport allows you to consider your route, as well as the destination. It can also take you through neighborhoods you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. While it may take a little longer, you’re on vacation, right? So what’s the rush?
Step away from social media
It’s always nice to get in a few Instagram shots or Facebook posts to let your friends and family know what you’re up to (and maybe make them a little jealous). But too much time considering the perfect Insta-selfie or simply checking up on what your friends are doing back home, can lead you to live through your news feed and not in the moment.
Unplugging from social media can be a liberating experience when you’re in a new country, and it will surprise you just how much time you have to explore when you’re not staring into the never-ending scroll of updates.
If you have a question, ask a local
Technology now preempts a lot of conversations we might once have had with strangers. From asking for directions to recommending a local restaurant, all our queries can be easily solved with a few taps of a keyboard.
We miss out on the genuine connection and interaction with the local people, and, more often than not, they’ll know better than any review site where the best local watering holes are, or where to find the most authentic cuisine.
Even if it turns out to be a terrible recommendation, that’s all part of the adventure of exploring a new place. And that’s just life, not everything has to be the absolute best. Appreciate the mishaps along the way and collect memories and stories to tell once you’re home.
Take it back to the old school and use a film camera
It’s undeniably handy to be able to snap a thousand photos of whatever sunset or sandwich we’re enjoying at the moment in the hope that one will turn out a masterpiece. But this also makes us mindless in the way we shoot and can often lead to people experiencing said sunset through a screen rather than in real life.
Going back to a good old-fashioned film camera, on which you only have a limited number of shots, makes you more considered in what you are taking and focuses you on your surroundings. You’re also likely to end up with better shots as each one is thought through before you hit the shutter.
You’ll quickly find that those pictures of your lunch are less vital when you only have a couple of rolls at your disposal.
Give yourself time to process… And take a nap every once in a while, it’s allowed
Often in our mission to see as much as possible, we over-stuff our itinerary giving us no time to sit back and absorb the experience.
While it can be great to see all the sites, don’t let this take priority over enjoying any of them. Sometimes it’s better to take your time and enjoy one or two lesser-known museums than it is to cram in eight of them. And you’re more likely to look back and remember the experience that you truly engaged with.
Without taking time out – and enjoying the occasional nap – we run the risk of turning what is supposed to be a relaxing break into a different hamster wheel of stress. It’s okay to be lazy and not feel guilty about it!
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com