When you’ve been drowning in an endless cycle of work, taking care of others, managing a growing inbox and juggling a packed calendar, nothing sounds better than a sitting on the beach with your “out of office” on and a cocktail in hand, am I right?
A vacation (or staycation) can do wonders for your well-being. That’s a no-brainer.
As appealing as zoning out completely might be, a mindful travel experience can be an even more powerful form of self-care.
When you are truly present in a new place, engage with locals, and immerse yourself in the experience, you’ll actually end up feeling happier and more fulfilled than if you ignored the world from your beach towel for a week.
Why self-care is more important than ever
In today’s context, self-care refers how we take care of our mind, body, and spirit. It helps to prevent burnout, re-center ourselves, and protect our well-being so we’re better able to show up for ourselves and others in our lives.
Have you heard of the oxygen mask practice? The one about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others? I remember when Oprah turned that airline safety protocol into one of the first mainstream calls to self-care. Now I imagine her shouting “You get a mask, you get a mask, everyone gets an oxygen mask!!!!!”
There’s a reason the obsession with self-care is growing. We live in a world that requires it.
Mindful travel as self-care
Here are six reasons why mindful travel should be a regular part of your self-care plan.
It’s mindfulness in practice
It’s so easy to run on autopilot in our daily lives. Traveling to a new place, especially in a foreign country, requires you to be present in order to get on the right train, figure out what to eat, pick up on cultural etiquette, and otherwise navigate an unfamiliar environment as if you were a child. You naturally need to be more mindful to get through the day.
Traveling mindfully also means you pay attention to how it feels to be present, in real-time, and bring that awareness back to your everyday life.
It empowers you to choose your own path
Believe it or not, you have a choice in how you act and react to the situations in your life. Traveling and actively seeking out experiences with cultures different from your own helps you realize an important truth: Everyone has a different story about life. We all live in our own movies and have a different version of what we believe to be true, real, and right.
When this clicks, you realize you are empowered to create your own movie. You don’t have to buy into what you’ve always been told you “should” do. It’s a powerful reminder to take steps toward living a fulfilling life that you love.
It ignites your intuition
One of the best reasons to practice self-care is to get in touch with your inner wisdom. In a society focused on logical thinking, career ladders, glorifying busyness, we’ve been trained to tone down the guiding voice inside of ourselves.
Travel helps you remember how to trust your gut. When you’re in an unfamiliar place or can’t speak the language you’re more alert to nonverbal cues and sensations that arise in your body, whether they’re guiding you toward the bathroom or away from a sketchy situation.
Tapping into your intuition is crucial to navigating your own life and making wise decisions that will lead you toward your true north. Mindful travel can help you zone in on what that means for you.
It makes you more creative
Recent scientific studies have shown that traveling in a foreign country has the potential to affect our brain’s neuroplasticity (how your brain is wired) and is closely related to creativity.
As The Atlantic points out, “New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
Cultural immersion is key, though. An all-inclusive resort on the other side of the world won’t have the same brain boost as experiencing life with the locals.
It sparks curiosity, which can lead to finding your passion
With the rise of digital nomads and the unconventional lifestyle revolution, a lot of us have been misled into believing that if we don’t have a passion, and make a living from that passion, then we’re somehow doing it wrong. And that’s simply not true.
As someone who had a passion career as a professional dancer, I know first-hand that it’s not always the nirvana we’re looking for.
I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s sentiment about following our curiosity rather than hunting for our passion. It’s kinda like finding love; when you release your grip on finding it, it’s more likely that it’ll sneak up on you.
Mindful travel helps turn on your curiosity-seeking superpowers.
It boosts compassion toward ourselves and the world
Traveling humbles you. It’s liberating to realize how small your personal problems are in the grand scheme of life. It also gives you a greater perspective that just might bring on a new solution or help you to finally let go of something that’s been blocking you from living your best life.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Traveling makes you realize there’s a freedom in your smallness.” quote=”Traveling makes you realize there’s a freedom in your smallness.”]
It’s not always easy to travel, and it’s harder yet to travel frequently. But if you can manage to, as the Dalai Lama famously said, “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before,” then do it.
Save your money, plan ahead, go by yourself if you don’t have a travel buddy. Make it a priority. Traveling to seek and to grow is a self-care investment that’ll bring unparalleled returns.