As we approach spring break and, soon enough, the summer months, many of you are planning trips to destinations near and far. Whether you’re going somewhere with family, friends, a romantic partner, or solo, it’s safe to say you want to get the most out of your trip. If you already have a meditation practice, you may hope to keep it up while on the road. Conversely, maybe you’ve decided to take a break from meditation while you’re away from your routine? Or if you’ve never meditated before or don’t have a consistent practice, perhaps you’re thinking your mind won’t need a mental break while on vacation, right? Wrong.
I’d argue that vacation is actually the ideal time to keep up or start your meditation habit. Here’s why.
1. Meditation Adds Purpose to Travel Time
When people are in transit, they’re normally looking for a way to pass the hours. This often takes the form of picking up a book, listening to music, or watching a movie, depending on how you’re traveling. The idea is to make the time go by quickly using some form of entertainment or a favorite hobby. So why not meditate? In reality, it’s just one of many enjoyable activities you can do, and unlike watching a video or reading a book, the mental and physical benefits of meditation will stay with you long after you’ve finished.
Travel is also a uniquely wonderful time to meditate because you don’t need to rush to get anywhere afterward. Unlike meditating first thing in the morning when you have to go to work later, you have plenty of time to just sit with yourself. You can go into a deeper state of meditation knowing you don’t have to be anywhere or have any other obligations you need to deal with. You can also experiment with meditating for a longer period of time than you normally would, and probably go off to sleep afterward.
Meditation feels natural when flying or traveling by train or bus, but it’s obviously not a viable option for driving. But you can be mindful behind the wheel, too. When you’re driving, you can be very present and aware by noticing the scenery around you, the colors of the cars passing you, and what billboards and signs you pass say. Not only does this type of mindfulness help you enjoy the scenery and feel connected with nature even though you’re driving in a car, but it also allows you to be very alert and potentially drive more safely than you would otherwise.
There’s also something to be said for how meditation can help you spend your travel time wisely. Suppose you have to sit on a bus for two hours. If you spend that time mindfully and presently, you’ll find that it feels like less of a burden. Instead of thinking of it as wasted time, you’ll start to feel as if your travel time was well-spent. Of course, this might be a little more difficult to put into practice on a longer trip, but breaking up a longer journey with short mindfulness or meditation breaks can make it feel more worthwhile and less like a big chunk of hours you’ll never get back. You might even find you enjoyed the journey because it allowed you to have some time with yourself.
2. Meditation Can Ease Travel-Related Stress and Anxiety
For many people, transit time is stressful. Getting to the airport on time, making the right train, or even sitting in traffic can be-anxiety provoking. There are actually two types of fear and anxiety about traveling, and meditation can help with both of them. One type of travel anxiety is experienced beforehand, which is more common. Other people are actually anxious and scared while traveling, most frequently via plane, either because they’re afraid of flying or because the stress of flying gets to them. In both cases, meditating before the journey can be helpful. Meditating during the journey can also really reduce this feeling of fear, anxiety, or nervousness. Without any doubt, this is a good strategy for nervous flyers.
Meditation also helps reduce travel fatigue. When you land or arrive after spending some of your time meditating, you’ll feel fresh and full of energy. When you finish your journey, you’ll feel rejuvenated. If you’re traveling for many hours, meditate in bits and parts, and suddenly your 8- or 10-hour travel time won’t feel so exhausting.
3. Meditation Can Enhance Experiences
Many people wonder when they will find the time to meditate during a vacation, but what they don’t realize is that meditation and mindfulness don’t have to be their own standalone activities. You can combine them with something you’d be doing anyway. By doing this, you can maximize the joy you’re getting from an activity.
Perhaps your plan is to read on the beach. Add a 20-minute meditation onto that. If sitting quietly for that long is not going to happen—maybe you have to supervise children or are traveling with talkative friends or family—you can mindfully connect with your surroundings. Watch the waves crash into shore, notice how the sun feels on your skin, and breathe in the warm, salty air. Connect with the elements of the planet to the maximum that you can, and your experience will be enriched.
4. You Have More Time for Meditation Than You Think
While it’s true that meditation and/or mindfulness can be integrated into virtually anything you do on vacation, there are plenty of other times during your trip when you might be able to meditate that you might not realize are available to you. Let’s say you need to get from point A to point B and you’re taking a taxi. As long as you feel that you’re in a safe environment, you can use the taxi journey to meditate. All of those short periods of transit time that inevitably happen on a trip are the perfect opportunity to take a few moments for yourself, and once you start looking for those moments when mindfulness is available to you, you’ll find them much more often than you’d think.