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How to Stay in the Moment when Traveling

Many of us don’t often get the opportunity to travel, as the demands of work and other obligations keep us at home. So when we do get the opportunity to visit other places, it’s important that we make the most of our experiences, remaining present and observant of our new surroundings. As research shows that regular travel has a positive impact on a person’s overall sense of wellbeing, it can be helpful to put some thought into how to maximize the benefits of a travel experience.

While taking pictures while on vacation can be a fun way to preserve the experience to remember later, it can also have the effect of taking you out of the moment, as you look at your surroundings through your camera’s viewfinder or display rather than directly. As such, self-imposed limits on your photography can improve your experience of travel. If you set a limit on the total number of photographs you take on vacation, you can remain more present, while also devoting more attention to ensuring the pictures you do take are thoughtfully composed. 

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Additionally, there are other, less common ways of preserving an experience besides photography that can engage you more thoroughly in your environment. Instead of a camera, you can bring a notebook and colored pencils with you on a trip, allowing you to sketch your surroundings and record your thoughts in a journal. For the more creative among us, this practice can be more rewarding and satisfying than the standard vacation pictures.

There are also helpful ways of adjusting your frame of mind to make the most of a travel experience. Though many of us think of a vacation as a way to take a break from all forms of work, exercise can have the effect of sharpening one’s senses, allowing them to stay more present and engaged in their location. Going for a run or a bicycle ride can be a fun way to explore a new environment, and working up a sweat has the effect of raising one’s level of endorphins, helping you to stay in a good mood throughout the vacation. Additionally, mindfulness meditation is particularly helpful for making the most out of a vacation, as the practice of devoting focus to one’s internal and external experiences is particularly important when encountering a chance of locale.

That being said, it’s also important to make sure you enjoy the experience, which is after all the point of going on vacation. Your mindfulness should extend to your decisions about what activities to engage in, as you want to strike the right balance between doing novel things and choosing activities that you’re likely to find valuable and enriching. If you’re more of an introverted person, you may choose to go on hikes in nature, whereas extroverted people may find excitement in immersing themselves in the local nightlife. In either case, your individual personality and interests will dictate the sorts of activities you’ll enjoy, so it’s a good idea to do some introspection when planning your next getaway.