Add these tips to your toolbox to learn how to be present in travel, writes Juliette Sivertsen
It's so easy to get caught up in sightseeing and ticking off activities when on holiday that often we forget to simply enjoy the moment. Appreciating what is in front of us and learning to stay present can enhance both the experience and the later memories of your trip.
Learning to be present in travel can be a helpful tool if you live with anxiety and find parts of a journey challenging, particularly when things don't go to plan. It also helps facilitate deeper connections with the people around you and heightens our awareness.
As a travel writer, I am often focused on following an itinerary, meeting people, taking notes, photos and videos, and sharing them on social media - which is all part of my job description. But I often feel exhausted by the end of it. But, when I take the time to be present and truly notice my surroundings, my brain recharges, which consequently boosts my creativity.
While travel can be a wonderful experience, it can also trigger a lot of different emotions, moods and reactions. Finding a spot of calm, or a gentle activity that can help de-activate the flight-or-fight response, will help protect your emotional boundaries while away from home.
Here are a few ways to live in the moment while travelling.
Savour the scene
These days it's rare to travel without a camera or smartphone. Some of us barely wait to return to the hotel room before sharing content with our social networks.
How often do we spend our time looking through the lens of a camera, that we forget to appreciate the sight in front of us?
The next time you want to capture a scene, stop and take a good hard look first. Savour it. Use your senses to appreciate and observe what is in front of you. Capturing a scene in your mind before the camera does will also help create a stronger memory to recall at a later date.
Spare time rarely magically appears; it has to be created.
If you're an active relaxer, you might find yourself not necessarily feeling any more refreshed or energised at the end of your holiday if you pack your trip with too many things to do.
Rather than wait for spare time, schedule it in.
Find a spot where you can be still and observe your surroundings. It doesn't have to be quiet, although peace may help. What can you see? What colours are around you? Close your eyes and listen - really listen. What sounds are there that you didn't notice before? And what does it feel like?
We often travel to get away from the busyness of our lives, so make it a priority to schedule stillness while away.
Learn to let go
It can take a few days into a holiday before relaxation properly kicks in. But if you're still feeling wound-up, you might be holding on to stress, or stressful memories, or are trying to cram too much into your trip.
If it's the latter, ask yourself if you have a fear of missing out, or are carrying anxieties and self-imposed pressures to fill each day up with activities or sightseeing.
Travel is often a way to escape life, so learning to let go by recognising what you can and can't control can help you avoid simply recreating the stress or exhaustion you wanted to get away from in the first place.
I find this grounding exercise helpful. It's about creating a really strong memory from travel that you can refer to in times of high stress when back at home or at work.
If you see or experience something truly joyful while away, take it all in and spend some time thinking about how it feels. Remember as many details as possible, all the sights and sounds, if there were any people present and why it made you feel joyful inside. Being deliberate about this memory will help capture something strong enough which can anchor you during stressful occasions that may arise once the holiday has ended.
When the time comes to refer to this memory, use it to recreate the joy. Close your eyes and use all your senses to recall it - the sight, the sound, the taste, the smell, the feeling. The more detail, the better. I've used this tool many times to help in moments of high stress, while also creating a more positive view of prior travels, without feeling too sad that it was just a moment in time.
Questions on keeping good mental health when travelling? Email email@example.com or find me on Twitter at @j_sivertsen