Traveling can range from life-changing to extremely stressful depending on a few key factors. Luckily, you can follow some of these tips to enrich your travel experience! At Lotus Compass, we promote travel that goes beyond the crowded tourist attractions. We believe that travel is meant to teach you about yourself and the world. If you agree and want to learn more, read on!
Here’s how to make your travel experience that much more meaningful while traveling the world.
This step is hugely important. The conscious traveler plans wisely when choosing a destination. Instead of a more obvious choice like Venice in the summertime, try an alternative option like magical Ljubljana, Slovenia, which is gorgeous and way less crowded. Ljubljana’s tourism board boasts, “It’s never crowded, but it’s also never boring!” With overtourism on the rise before the pandemic, Venice saw 4.7 million arrivals in 2019, which is CRAZY considering the town only has 55,000 residents in the historic center.
When brainstorming for your upcoming trip, also consider the time of year. When you go is equally as important as where you go. If it’s been your life dream to visit the Vatican in Italy but you hate big crowds and fear that it may be too overwhelming for you, be sure to avoid busy dates like Easter and Christmas. These holidays make it even more overwhelming.
After planning the basic details of your trip, don’t forget to unplan some of your trip as well! What exactly does this mean? Well, leave some time and space for relaxation and spontaneity. This is sooo important, friends. This key step will definitely enrich your travel experience. How can you accept the invitation to lunch with your new local friend if you have the day fully booked already? Not to mention…this is not a competition to see as much as possible – leave time for relaxation. You deserve it!
Learn the language before you go
Languages open doors! Learn some basic phrases plus some extra fun phrases, and you’ll notice how the locals appreciate and find amusement in your effort. Especially in places like Spain where they really do appreciate your effort. Not to mention, you’ll be way more self sufficient when you know the language, which will help you to get around, order food, and things like that.
Learn the language will enrich your travel experience because you will no longer be seen as just a tourist. You’ll be transformed in the eyes of the people who live there as someone who takes interest in and respects their culture. Unless you’re in Paris, of course. Parisians hate tourists.
Duolingo is a great free app to learn and practice a new language!
Read up on the history and cultural norms
Getting to know the cultural and historical references of a place will help bridge cross cultural communication. Knowing the history of a place can tell you so much information about why it is the way it is now. With that glimpse into the past, you’ll have a better understanding of the present, and learning the culture and customs will help you avoid awkward moments or being accidentally offensive – especially if you’re traveling somewhere with a very different way of life than the one you’re used to.
Talk with locals
Enhance your travel experience by getting to know the locals. When you’re stopping in a cafe for your morning coffee, ask the barista some questions about their town. You could ask them what their favorite restaurant is or what their favorite things about living there is. Often they will give you gems of insight that aren’t in the guidebooks.
Saved the best for last! Mindfulness is everything when it comes to conscious travel and making your trip more meaningful. Mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment. When you’re on a trip and daydreaming about a conversation you had at work last week or stressing about a project that’s due when you get back, you’re taking away from where you are right here, right now.
That’s what mindfulness teachers mean when they say to be present. Being present is all about bringing your attention to what’s going on around you and inside of you. I like to take multiple Presence Pauses throughout the day.
Say that I’m in a little open-air market in a small village in Spain. The first step is to tune into your senses:
- What can I smell right now? Fragrant flowers and pastries from a nearby bakery
- What can I see right now? A woman haggling prices for produce at a market stand, kids playing in the square, old men smoking cigarettes and playing cards at the café, an artist painting the church behind the market
- What can I feel right now? Gratitude in my chest that moves down toward my solar plex. Excitement. The wind brushing against my skin. The cobblestone ground beneath me.
- What am I hearing right now? Fast conversations in Spanish. The flapping of birds’ wings above me. The church bell ringing loudly.
Be sure to pause and give yourself time to notice without judgement of your experience. This can take anywhere from 2-5 minutes. Notice what’s happening in your inner and outer experience of the present moment.
Practicing this throughout your trip will consistently bring you back to the present moment so that you can spend your trip being where you are right now instead of ruminating on the past or fantasizing about the future. The only place you can live your life is in the present moment – where things are happening all around you. Tune in and notice how this enriches your travel experience!
Okay, to wrap it up: plan wisely then unplan a little bit. Learn some of the language. Definitely read up on the culture and history of where you’re going. Chat with locals and find out cool insider info. AND practice mindfulness using Presence Pauses.
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