Can I let you in on a little secret? Sometimes I forget to stop and feel the awe when I globetrot. There are forever things to plan, places to be, things to do, people to meet, and things to go eat!
My trips are often hectic because I'm simultaneously working. But it's a common phenomenon: Even on vacation, you've likely felt "switched on." You’re mired in logistical details. You’re caught up in chronicling the experience for social media. Your mind is working a mile a minute as you breathlessly bound from one location to another. But it doesn't have to be that way! In these times of conflict and uncertainty, travel should be an opportunity to nurture the soul, not another opportunity to stress out!
So how do we step back from the hustle, bustle, and minutiae of traveling and turn it into a journey that fills us with peace, purpose, and a sense of hope? Here's what I'm trying, more and more, to do:
Your itinerary doesn't need to be on lock—once you've got a trip planned, it's okay to let go and let the journey unfold. In Gift From The Sea (a great book for any seeker!) Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” In other words, instead of micromanaging every aspect of your journey, leave yourself open to unexpected experiences, like the conversation with a stranger in a cafe or an afternoon wandering city streets. My visit to Cairo bloomed into Technicolor when I decided to trust and let Fathi, a local, lead me around the city after he found me on a busy street corner looking lost. It’s often the unexpected encounters that grow us the most.
Me, in an Egyptian temple.
Quiet your mind
Spiritual wellbeing and meditative practice go hand in hand, so be sure to make time in your travel schedule for some quiet contemplation. This could be as simple as taking a twenty minute break during the day to do some focused breathing, or as structured as signing up for a yoga class in the city you’re visiting. I did my first yoga class EVER in India, and I loved it so much that I signed up for another when I was vacationing in Oman.
The awesome Sagrada Família.
Visit destinations that ooze spirituality
The Catholic priest Henri J.M. Nouwen said, “The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it.” For this reason, I’ve been trying to cultivate greater spiritual mindfulness as I explore this beautiful, dissonant earth. And what better way than to visit the world's sacred sites? While you may not be a believer, I dare you to walk through Barcelona’s cavernous Sagrada Família church without feeling awash with peace, wonder, and optimism. Machu Picchu, the Incan citadel found high in the Andes mountain range, will also dazzle you with its energy. So, that's my suggestion, fellow travelers: Seek out and soak in the restorative powers of such magical places—then bring that magic home and spread it around.
Machu Picchu in Peru.