Woman standing above clouds in the wind

Why mindful travel is having a moment

Feb 12, 2024
Reading time: 5 minutes

Mindful travel is gaining momentum among all generations. An increasing number of folks are wanting to have more meaningful experiences and encounters – both in their daily lives as well as on their travels. Please let us tell you more ...

What is mindful travel?

Mindful travel refers to your mental and practical approach while travelling to what's happening around you and within you. The mindful traveller looks for opportunities to sink into the present moment and make the most of it, all rush, agendas and distractions set aside.

Two trekkers with rucksacks in green landscape among mountains


As Mariellen Ward, a seasoned mindful traveller, so beautifully puts it:

With a mindful approach, travel becomes a meditation … an experience of being alive in the world … instead of a consumer-oriented, commodified activity designed to maximize your pleasure and keep you distracted. 

Mindfulness isn't about the what and where, it's about how you approach the place and moment you're in. Do you choose to sink into it, and fully experience and learn whatever is on offer?

Mindful travel embraces the unexpected

Sometimes a moment almost insists on being felt in a mindful way. A spectacular sunset, a glacier calving, the purring of a murmuration of starlings overhead ...

But often mindful moments are only available to those who make space for them.

The mindful traveller has to consciously choose to experience the surprises and vicissitudes of travel with an open mind. This is a smart approach, as so much is out of your hands when you travel, such as delayed transport or lost-in-translation communication.

Asian couple with map lying on backpacks on grass


No matter what happens on your travels – whether an unexpected detour or something going 'wrong' – you can make the most of it, and get the most out of it, when you have a good attitude.

When something unplanned happens, we encourage you to put a pin in the travel to-do (or to-see) list, and instead look for the mindful, as it were. Make room for the special insight, peaceful moment, soul-filling encounter, special connection.

Remember that surprises, delays and detours can lead to unusual encounters, memorable moments, interesting conversations, serendipitous happenings, beautiful insights.

Mindful vs responsible travel

We think of mindful travel as being connected to, but different from, responsible and sustainable travel. Responsible and sustainable travel requires doing some homework into the destination and services you choose so that you can make thoughtful choices.

Danielle Elliot. Ngorongoro Crater group pic by safari vehicle, Tanzania


Mindful travel, by contrast, is about your attitude while on a trip. It's about choosing to be present in the moment, having your senses attuned to what's happening in and around you, and settling into various experiences without preconceived ideas or judgement about what you should experience or feel.

The mindful traveller is truly open to the world, and so benefits on a whole other level from the experience of travel.

Why mindful travel is having a moment now

No matter which generation you fit into, there's a movement going on among your peers towards mindful travel.

Couple walking barefoot in surf in Mombasa


For some, it's about regaining a measure of the inner quiet that was more prevalent before the digital age. For others, it's simply an extension of their mindful way of living. While for still others, it's about the search for greater meaning, and even transcendence.

Mindful travel is becoming less niche, especially in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. We've been forced into a collective rethink of our priorities, rhythms and lifestyles. And we're yearning for travel, newness and adventure at the same time!

Consequently, mindful travel is having the big moment we're seeing right now.

Mindful travel is coming into its own.

Can adventure travel be mindful travel?

Heck yeah!

Almost any type of travel can be mindful if you approach it in a mindful manner! But adventure travel is in one sense extra suited to becoming mindful travel given how most of it takes place in the outdoors.

Couple hiking above coastline


Adventure travel often occurs in places of immense natural beauty, or in the company of wonderful, unusual or endangered vegetation and animals. These are all helpful in terms of restoring to us a sense of childlike wonder.

When looking up at a mountain, floating in a salt sea, or quietly observing a panda bear, you truly stop, look (or close your eyes), breathe in the air, and listen. It's about just being fully aware of and open to the moment.

As mindfulness trainer Rob Brandsma says:

I like to think of mindfulness as "rich observation".
Blonde woman paddling on lake


While adventure travel frequently also includes some heart-pounding moments, or is full of a good dose of puffing and sweating, these moments of thrill slip wonderfully into quieter, more mindful spaces afterwards.

When you've paddled far out, for instance, you can stop, lean forward and drop your hands into the water, and feel the different sensations in your body as your back stretches, you and the kayak gently rock with the waves, and the water laps your hands.

It's very easy to take a few moments here and there in the midst of an adventure to really study the petals of a flower, or walk with your senses attuned to the crunching of grass underfoot. And, of course, there's always time to simply sit and take in the view while enjoying the breeze on your face.

Mindful travel in the company of others

Mindful travel most certainly doesn't have to be a solo thing. Mindful travel with friends, family or a partner can be great.

Perhaps you could all agree beforehand that you're going to make space for mindfulness on the journey. Or sometimes it just requires someone to take the lead in order for others to jump on board and enjoy the different approach to the moment at hand.

You could link hands with your partner, for instance, while quietly observing a gorilla in the wild, enjoying the time with no agenda, no rush, no distractions.

Or you could lie down in the grass as a group of friends under a beautiful tree and simply watch the shadow play above you for a few minutes.

If there are folks who struggle with being quiet, you could start up a gratitude game, each taking turns to find something to be thankful for in that moment and place together.

Two Indian guys at the beach in Sri Lanka


And that's it for now, folks! We hope this has been helpful, and perhaps inspires you to approach your next adventure in a more mindful manner. 🤓