Wanderlust: meaning “A strong desire to travel.”
This term has been thrown around a lot the last couple of years. Something that has become more and more embraced as a way of life in recent years. Many young people, young professionals, and those in transitional periods in their lives are putting off having that fancy house or expensive car to go out and see the world. There is a new-found value in experiences that are shifting the balance in our culture and creating a space where that nomadic spirit can be nurtured.
No one really knows why humans have a need to travel, but I believe it’s a connection we crave from the world and nature around us. Travel is fun, enriching, educational, and at times challenging. But travel is also necessary to the core of our spirit as human beings. Connection to others and to the world around us exists in every person whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
For all the beauty and value in travel, there are also challenges and things that arise while we move through the world. Among the many trials the most difficult one to overcome and the one that has the most potential to rob our travel experiences of their worth is our tendency as human beings to live in the past or the future and ignore the present moment. As an avid traveler I have been guilty of not being as present as I would like and have seen and felt what can happen when we lose track of the present. The past is gone and the future is not real yet, the present moment is the only reality that exists and in that reality there is infinite potential. When we don’t honor the present we lose track of our existence and our connection to others.
Again, I am as guilty as anyone of this so here are some ways I remind myself to stay grounded in the present and practice mindful existence while I travel and while I am at home. Hopefully this will help you too.
- Put your phone down
When I first started travelling smartphones and other portable technologies were not as prevalent and available to use around the world. So before I would head off on a trip, I would spend hours researching where I was going and making sure to print off maps so I could get my way around. Now days our phones work literally anywhere we go which is amazing but can also be a hinderance. Being connected to the entire world has a potential to remove us from our present surroundings and root us in something that isn’t real. This can also rob us of the opportunities to connect to the people we meet and to a deeper sense of ourselves and our place in the world. I suggest everyday making sure and take a break from your phone, laptop or whatever else you use on the go. Try to utilize those technologies when you need them, while also freeing your mind to connect to the place around you.
- Get out in Nature
A large part of living in the present is being connected to the natural world. In our modern society we have decided it is not necessary to be in, connect with, and have respect for nature to the detriment of our natural state as human beings. We you travel make sure to find time to get out into Nature, no matter where you are. Maybe walk to your next destination instead of taking that taxi. Visit a garden in the city or take some time to do some trekking in the mountains or on the beach. When we take time to appreciate the beauty all around us we ground ourselves in the present and are more open to the opportunities that arise for us to grow as people when we travel the world.
- Keep a positive attitude
Let’s face it, no matter how much you love traveling there will be days when you feel over it. Whether it’s getting sick, missing your bus, or just wanting to take a hot shower and sleep in your own bed. When we start to feel this way we can begin to live in the futures. “I can’t wait to go home. Maybe tomorrow will be better than today. Some thing or some point in the future will be better than now.” It is really difficult to not let these thoughts take us out of the present. One of the best things you can do is try and stay positive. Take a breath and reflect on all the beauty around. Appreciate the potential for personal growth through challenge or the new things you are learning from the experience. Having a positive attitude when traveling will not only make you happier but will help you stay present and appreciate what is around you in when times are difficult.
- Interact with the locals
One of the best ways to stay present when you travel is getting to know the local people who call the place you visit home. Sit down for a cup of tea or a beer. Take time to learn about them, their culture and country. Share stories about your home country and who you are, what makes you want to travel and what you are experiencing in this new place. When you connect on a meaningful level with the people around you the potential for not living in the present is lowered. Engaging and interacting forces us to live in that singular moment and not think about some future that is not here yet.
- The future is not real
Yes, this one sounds strange, but if you can grasp the idea I promise you it will do you a world of good. Sometimes when we are feeling uncomfortable we tend to think of what we can’t wait to do when we get home or what is happening a few days from now. Traveling is one of the few places in your life where in the present moment truly exists the infinite potential and reality of existence. Though our past influences our present selves, it exists in a reality that is gone. Though the future can dictate our choices, it is not reality yet and, in some ways, might never come. It is important to consider a future as we live our lives, but the worth and value of the present, the experiences that exist there and the person who lives there, will always be more influential to our happiness and well-being.