I’ve never planned much more than flights and accommodations when I travel. There’s usually a mental list of things I’d like to do, but planned itineraries are not my thing and I’m lucky to be able to travel with someone who is just as happy as I am to fly by the seat of my pants, have plans turned upside down and explore adventures that might pop up unexpectedly along the way.
And in not having any strict timetables to follow, we’ve naturally fallen into some routines that have injected mindfulness into our holiday.
Staying in an AirBnB means no rush to vacate the room, which in turn means coffee in our pajamas, staring out at Table Mountain (this view, though!) and rattling off how we’d like to spend the day. This little ritual, maybe seemingly insignificant, is huge to me. It gives me a chance to feel out our moods and energy levels (the jet lag was REAL) and to begin the day completely connected.
Maintaining a daily yoga practice has been key to staying mindful while on holiday. It doesn't have to be yoga, but movement is great for both the body and mind to adjust to being somewhere new. Yoga is something that I keep up with at home, and is a great option on the road because it requires minimal equipment or prior planning (#stopdropandyoga). We've also been doing a good amount of hiking, boxing at a local boxing gym and throwing in body weight exercises or favorites from Ab'Asanas when there's a few minutes to kill around the apartment.
At some point during the day, either over a coffee or pre- or post-afternoon siesta, I like to take a pen to our travel journal (currently loving Rifle Paper Co., their whimsical designs are lovely and the page setup is perfect, with the lefthand side blank for ticket stubs and memorabilia and the righthand side lined for writing). This is something we’ve been doing since our first vacation together, making notebooks thick with boarding passes, ticket stubs and instant photos. There's something about vacation that seems to distort time; I think it's a combination of the time change, seeing and doing so many things in a short amount of time and the need to just "take it all in" that I'm usually pretty surprised when I recount the events since my last entry and glue in the tickets and other scraps. A lot of what we see here in Cape Town is both heavy and hopeful, and "history" here isn't something that's stuck in the past, it's very recent and real and it's nice to have a moment to jot down how I'm feeling. It feels good to talk about my favorite parts of the day and to listen to Ray's favorite parts... and sometimes that discussion is my favorite part of the day!
Apart from ticket stubs and pamphlets, I love including instant photos in my travel journal. There's something about having a tangible (like, actually hold it in my hand) memory of a snapshot in time when I was thinking "I do not want to forget this!" #lifehack: keeping my Fuji Instax Mini on hand to capture those never-forget moments ensures that I can stay in the moment and quickly (and easily!) document it so I can return to that place and time whenever I wish!
At home I write in a 5 year one-line-a-day journal (there are a few out there, but I've been keeping this one) and I’ve kept up with it when I travel. Sometimes we answer the prompts together, sometimes it’s just me. But the questions are usually completely out of the blue, and that simple unexpected prompt gets me out of my head and ready to wind down for the night.
Lastly, but certainly not least, finding a way to connect leaves me feeling grounded, even with my feet on foreign soil. Something as simple as a completely present conversation with the security guard on the corner, or mindfully fielding a taxi driver or waitstaff's questions about where we are from and how we are enjoying our visit to South Africa, or even just sharing a moment with children in the streets is what makes me feel like a mindful traveler and not just a tourist.
How do you stay present and mindful when you're on holiday? Comment below to let me know!