Being present and in the moment is one of the most important parts of travel. It’s how you grow, learn from others, create relationships, and make memories. It can be hard to slow down or open up, especially if you’ve never traveled before. So…

Here are some tricks I use to live fully and be more present.

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Really Listen When Others Talk – This is a quality I’ve come to appreciate and admire in people. By listening to others and asking questions, you become more present and in the moment. You learn about people that may be completely different from you and who knows what lifelong bonds you’ll make. Not only is it common courtesy, but it will help you connect with people from all over the world and from all different backgrounds.

PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE – I don’t have to explain this as everyone already knows they need to get off technology more often. However, when you travel, it becomes a safety net to hide behind a phone or computer to avoid new conversation. Try to limit your phone time to just in the morning or evening and forget it the rest of the day. Don’t miss out on getting to know new people and places by constantly connecting with your life back home. You will have enough of that when you return and then you’ll be wishing you spent more time soaking in your travels.

Make Eye Contact – This can be practiced in everyday life – not just when traveling. If keeping eye contact when speaking makes you uncomfortable, what better time to practice then with total strangers you may or may not see again! Eye contact helps you connect with whomever you’re talking to and it makes them feel like you’re really listening.

Don’t be Afraid to Say Hello – It seems awkward to be the first to sit down and say hi to a stranger. People in our society play games and makes it appear to be needy or desperate if you try to reach out and make new friends. But when traveling, everyone’s in the same boat and doesn’t care! Be more present by greeting people, engage in conversation even if it seems uncomfortable, and reach out to others because you just never know who you’ll meet.

Fun Fact: I met my now boyfriend just by saying hello at breakfast in a hostel in Zambia. I then asked if I could sit with him and the rest is history!

Say ‘YES’ More – To segway from the previous point, you’ll probably be shy if this is your first big trip or if you’re traveling solo. That’s totally normal, but you should really try to push yourself out of your comfort zone by just saying yes. If everyone is going for a tour, it could be more fun to change your plans and just go with them! See something crazy on the menu you’ve never heard of? Go for it! You don’t have to do everything all the time, but live in the moment by saying yes more times than no!

Take your Photos, then Take a Break – It’s very easy to be so awestruck by a view or monument that you instantly want to capture it, and that’s ok. There are certain sights and settings that are absolutely breathtaking and perfect for a photo opp. But it’s important not to be watching that lightening storm or sunrise behind a camera the whole time. I like to take all my photos at the beginning of the day or right when I arrive somewhere so I can spend the rest of my time relaxing and soaking in the atmosphere. If you want to capture a sunset but you’re with a special someone, set up your camera for a time lapse so you can set it and forget it. By setting aside a chunk of time for photos, you’re not constantly ruining the moment with a camera nor will you get home and wish you had taken more.

Wake Up at a Decent Time – When you’re traveling and meeting new people, you’ll often find yourself staying up til the wee hours chatting and playing games. That’s great and some of your best memories will be forged on crazy nights out. However, don’t get into the habit of sleeping in solate that you miss out on exploring in the daytime. You’ll want to say yes to everything, but it’s ok to have some early nights for the sake of a full days worth of adventure.

Don’t Stress! – Of course this is a tip easier said than done, however it’s mind-blowing how great you feel when you let go of stressing over things out of your control. Being open and welcoming of whatever comes your way will allow you to open your mind to and enjoy your surroundings rather than having tunnel vision on something so small in the scheme of things. Just remember this:

Why stress over something that hasn’t happened yet, and if it did happen, why stress over the past?

Take Care of Yourself – When you get into the swing of traveling, especially constantly being around other people, you can sometimes forget about your basic needs. It’s important to make sure you’re staying healthy by staying true to what you know is best for you. You don’t need to drink every night or spend the day baking in the sun if you know you’ll be hurting afterwards. You can’t operate at 100% and be present if your body starts to shut down. Take care of your skin, drinks lots of water, try to incorporate some healthy foods in, stick to a few routines to keep regulated, and get some rest when you need it.

Don’t Rush – If you grew up in a city or work somewhere with constant due dates and timelines, you’re probably going to get a bit hung up on keeping to your schedule. Even if you don’t have much time for your vacation, you’re better off taking things slow in order to be more present on your trip. So often, people finish up a two-week trip and completely forget what they even did the first few days – leaving those days virtually wasted. Don’t waste your time by rushing through.


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