Mindful Meandering: Staying Present as a Solo Traveler

Traveling on your own can be an incredible, life-changing experience. It offers opportunities to meet people, do things, and visit places that you never would have otherwise. But solo travel has some overwhelming, stressful moments too. You don’t have other brains around to keep track of details or come up with solutions like you would in a group. 

When I started solo traveling full-time, I thought it would be easy to find moments to reflect on my experiences, reset, and practice mindfulness. But as a solo traveler, this can sometimes be even more difficult! During down time, it’s tempting to spend time making plans and figuring out what’s next on the itinerary since no one else will make those decisions for you.

Thankfully I’ve learned how to navigate this tricky balance from trial and error during my travels. These are the strategies I recommend to help you stay present as a solo traveler.

Travel Slowly

You may have heard this phrase used by other travel influencers and bloggers, but what does it mean?

Slow travel refers to travel plans that are full of empty spaces. You’ve left plenty of time in the itinerary to explore and relax and just take everything in, perhaps only scheduling a handful of activities each day. This can also mean spending more time in one place so you don’t feel rushed to do absolutely everything possible in a couple of days.

Traveling slowly naturally provides you with more time to connect with your experiences. It gives you chances to have deeper conversations with locals, learning their stories and connecting with their culture.

When I travel slowly, I don’t feel the need to exhaust myself doing everything there is to do in a place. I have time in the evenings to reflect on my day, go through pictures and videos, and just feel grateful.

Which brings me to my next suggestion for how to stay present as a solo traveler…

Record in a Journal

Writing about life experiences has been proven to help people remember details better and for longer. The act of writing things on paper (rather than typing them on a phone, although this is a good option if paper isn’t available) gives space and time to remembering details and emotions of the day.

Writing in a paper journal is ideal, but if you’re like me, maybe writing everything down doesn’t work for you. I’ve started filming myself talking about my experiences. The videos don’t go anywhere – they live on my Google Drive and help me remember the special moments of my trips.

Talking about details is another good way to remember them! And just because you’re not traveling with companions doesn’t mean you can’t talk through your day. Your phone camera is a great listener 🙂

Whichever method works best for you is great. Just be intentional about recording these precious memories!

Schedule Rest Days

Maybe you prefer action-packed days or the nature of your trip won’t allow for lots of long, slow days. In this case, schedule in a rest day to recharge!

When I took a solo trip to Disney World earlier this year, I scheduled a rest day in the middle of the week to sleep in, go to the pool, and do some shopping in Disney Springs. This day was the perfect opportunity to meditate on my week so far. By the end of it, I felt rested and excited to go back to the parks the next day.

So whether you take a day to rest at the pool, sleep in, go to church, or take a hike, incorporate days into your schedule to reflect and reset. This will keep you from feeling burnt out by the end of your trip.

Mindful Meandering

It’s not always easy to make time to connect and stay present as a solo traveler. Keep these helpful strategies in mind as you plan your next trip. I guarantee your intentional efforts will help you find more meaning in your travel experiences and remember them better for longer.

Additional Resources

For more tips and resources for intentional travel, download my FREE Ultimate Trip Planning Guide! It’s full of dozens of recommendations for how to plan trips of your dreams.

Discover what it means to design intentional life and travel experiences in this blog post: “What is Experience Design? And Why Does It Matter?”

Learn more about slow travel in this awesome blog post from Worldpackers.

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