Most people prepare for a vacation in the same way: they choose a destination, and then they research the must-sees to plan a daily itinerary. Then, they pack, gather all of their necessary documents and hit the road on the adventure they have so carefully planned, not necessarily looking to set a travel intention.
There’s nothing wrong with this type of preparation, but it’s not the only way to ready yourself for a vacation. Travel should be more than just a sightseeing experience — it should open you up to opportunities to better yourself, too. And you can ensure you do just that if you set a travel intention and stick to it for the duration of your trip.
Intention setting is most often used in meditation, but it can be a valuable skill to apply to your travel experiences, too. Think about your intention as a map that guides you to the place you want to go. In meditation, this might mean that you vow to respond to a situation before you react to it, or you want to be a happier person. These thoughts will give your meditation guidance and help you achieve what you seek at the end of a session.
You can use the same guiding thoughts while you travel. Just make sure the intentions you create are ones you genuinely believe in and want to accomplish by the end of your trip. If you wish to be more open to new experiences or let yourself relax while on vacation, your intention will only come to fruition if it’s something in which you truly believe.
There are so many reasons to set a travel intention or two, and everyone’s will be different. But many travelers who let their mindfulness guide them have noted that travel intentions give them a reason why they’re on their trip. Yes, vacations give us a breath of fresh air and a break from the norm, but that shouldn’t be the only reason you’re going. Pinpointing your inspiration — whether it’s the landscape, the culture, the food or the sense of adventure it gives you — will make your entire journey more intentional.
Travel intentions also give you the chance to see new places without a tourist’s typical rigidity. Rather than racing from landmark to landmark, you can wander without a solid plan and really experience the new city you’re visiting. It won’t feel like you’ve wasted an opportunity to see the place, either, if you always intended to go with the flow and take advantage of the opportunities you come across. A little bit of spontaneity can be good.
Another great reason to set a travel intention is to give yourself room for error. Planning your trip down to the minute leaves little room for the hiccups that undoubtedly come with traveling. And, if you don’t have room for error, you’ll feel regretful when overtime at one destination prevents you from seeing another. A looser schedule built on more general travel goals will leave you feeling fulfilled at the end of a trip.
We’ve already covered what it means to set a travel intention, and now it’s your turn to try it out. As previously mentioned, everyone will have different trip-related goals, and, in order to set your intentions in place, you should start there.
What must you do to make your vacation feel like a bona fide getaway? For some, this is the most important intention, since they travel to break free from the daily grind. To manifest this intention, you might stop yourself from checking work emails altogether, or you might limit yourself to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 before bed at night. That will free up the rest of your days for exploring, outdoor pursuits, museum hopping… whatever it is you plan to do on your trip.
You might also want to consider the experiences you strive to have. We’ve already mentioned the fact that intentions can make you less rigid, more spontaneous and less likely to feel as though your trip was a mistake. But you might also try to immerse yourself in the local culture, meet friends through your lodging or learn more about yourself by trying new things.
As you travel, you can track the progress and pitfalls of any of your intentions, too. An excellent method for doing so is journaling. By writing down your successes and failures, you can help yourself to work your way around the bad and enhance the good. No matter what your intentions are, try journaling at the end of each day to guide yourself closer and closer to your goals.
Travel can open your eyes to the ways of the world, but it can also reveal so much about you and who you are. With each trip, you’ll learn more about yourself — and those lessons will be clearer if you head out with a travel intention in mind. All there’s left to do is set yours and see how much you can gain by getting away.