How to travel happier

We all love vacations. But sometimes we’re in danger of letting them slip past us, not noticing the little joys of travel because we’re still busy thinking about the problems we should have left at home. We’re here to help you change that with our ten tips for travelling happier.

1) Limit screen time

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There’s nothing sadder than seeing a group of friends or family sitting at the dinner table on vacation, all with their heads buried in screens. In order to immerse yourself in the present moment, it’s so important to make sure that you’re not witnessing everything through a screen - or leaving part of yourself stuck in the busyness of home.

It can be tricky to completely detach but here are some simple ideas:

  • Edit your photos after your trip

  • Set up an ‘out of office’ message for your email

  • Download an app that disables instagram and facebook after a certain amount of time each day

  • Allot one hour for responding to messages from friends and family each day and resist checking your phone outside of that hour

  • Turn on your cellphone’s ‘do not disturb’ setting between 8pm and 9am

2) Be an explorer

Guide books are incredibly useful resources, but they have already decided everything for you. They kill curiosity and give you expectations that may or may not be met.

For sure, use guide books - someone’s invested a lot of time and effort to find great places for you. But also create unscheduled time for wandering around, following your feet, and seeing what you chance across. You can also ask locals where their favourite spots are - they’re sure to give you some great recommendations.

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3) Be present

International travel has changed so much. Today, instead of taking a boat or train for more than a week, you can wake up in London and go to sleep in Bangkok. This ease and convenience can make it very easy to be destination focused, rather than journey focused.

But travel isn’t just a scramble to ‘get somewhere’. Try to embrace and enjoy every element of your journey. Notice the in between - the lazy sunlit moments at a rural bus station, the sound of the insects on your jungle trek, the eccentric tuc tuc driver, the roadside coffee place. Bask in the charm of being on the way to somewhere.

4) Leave expectations at home and bring a “traveler’s attitude”

The pleasure you get from travel is always dependent on your outlook. As well as doing things that are restful, try to find an experience on your trip that truly feels like stepping out into the unknown. This might be showing up somewhere with no itinerary or staying in a local’s home.

Do your best to shed any expectations you may have - they are the biggest barriers to having an adventure in a foreign land. If it’s too difficult to clear your mind, plan a trip to a place you never really wanted to go to in the first place! That way, everything will be a pleasant surprise.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ”

― John Ruskin

5) Give thanks that you actually have the privilege to travel

Gratitude helps reconnect with the awareness that the very fact that you can travel means you’re one of the lucky ones — you have the freedom, choice, cash and the desire to make it happen.

“We tend to travel with a material understanding of happiness. The better the surroundings, the weather, the food, the linens - the happier we will be. But happiness is an unpredictable creature.  

— Alain de Botton

Once you’ve really taken that in, then everything else - all the little perks and lovely moments of your vacation - become even more special.

6) #giveback

Help out others whenever possible, to access a deeper level of joy within yourself. If you have really useful professional skills, then you may be able to volunteer your time to a charitable organisation, but if that’s not the case, you can still find ways to make sure your trip can give back. For instance, you can try community-based tourism.  For indigenous communities, it can facilitate cultural exchange and celebration. And for those that are struggling to maintain their livelihoods and traditions, it’s also a way of educating others about their situation, earning some money and playing an active part in the maintenance of their culture.

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7) Open your mind and stop saying no.  

Sure, “this is not like at home”, but that's exactly why you are travelling, right? Open your mind to learn about and appreciate different ways of life. You will see that outside of your comfort zone, you can grow as a person.

Say yes to life-expanding new experiences, even when they feel strange or a little uncomfortable at first.

8) Seek connections, not things

Find ways to connect with fellow travellers and locals alike. Human connections are what gives travel its depth and richness and makes it more than just escapism.

Learning some phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting allows you to have much more meaningful interactions with locals. To meet likeminded fellow travellers, consider staying in a hostel or a more communal hotel. We see lots of guests meet across our big family sized tables, and it’s so lovely to see these relationships being forged which may last for years to come.

9)  Enjoy nature

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Khalil Gibran

The climate crisis is real. Reading the news and seeing statistics about the way that our planet is changing just reminds us of the fragility of our present moment. Take the opportunity now to enjoy the beauty of our natural world, seek out green spaces wherever you are, and learn about the plants native to the country you’re visiting. You’ll feel better for it.

10) Avoid comparisons

Please don’t compare your experience against Instagram influencers. They are professional content creators who work hard. It may look effortless, but really they woke up at 3am and poured time and endless creativity into that perfect temple sunrise shot. The cost of buying into these myths of perfection are high. So Relax. Sleep in. You don’t actually need a photo of you doing everything. You’ll enjoy your experience more if you put the camera away from time to time - and you’ll still get to keep the memories forever.

Banner image credit: @sammiechn