Words by Shivani Kapoor
Whether it’s a solo excursion abroad, a beach vacation with friends, or a road trip with my dog, I always set out to travel with intention. That may look a bit different depending on the destination and my travel companions (or lack thereof). As we are hopefully getting back to more and more travel soon, here are just a few of the ways I like to be present and purposeful on my trips—with not much of an itinerary.
Go with the flow
I love a good list of places when it comes to food and drink, but so many times just walking into hole-in-the-wall spots has worked out better than I could dream. On my own in Paris, this has looked like opening the door to a 50 square foot Italian restaurant and being greeted by a woman who proudly tells me the only other employee there is her husband making the fresh, and best, cacio e pepe in the kitchen—as she pulls a table away from the wall for me to sit behind and begins teaching me all about their home island of Sardinia. At the closer-by southern beaches, this has been a cheeky, very un-stuffy—yet amazing—frozen daiquiri bar on the sand while laughing with best friends. It has also been an unassuming outdoor taqueria that welcomed me with fresh margaritas and salsa, and my dog with water and pockets full of treats. Spending time in your destination’s local restaurants and bars is honestly one of the best ways to get to know a place.
Stream of consciousness journaling
For me this usually works better while traveling alone, but also pushing for that quiet time on every trip is my ultimate goal. It is time to reflect, ground myself, and notice all that’s going on around me. I usually end up stream-of-conscious writing, recording the details of my day, what I observe around me, and how I’m feeling in that moment—anything that pops into my mind. I have found this is one of the optimal ways to truly relax on a vacation. I love to go back and read those entries and feel like I’m transported back to that moment, remembering the little details—which has been pretty sweet when stuck at home dreaming of the next trip.
Be social, not on social
Besides being obviously socially-conscious of the environment and culture you are in, I also would encourage everyone to be social with those around you. Experience and engage with the people in the city or town you are in, or with the people you have travelled with. And most of all, limit your time on social media! Take all the photos—but do it for yourself and your memories, not for the feed. That doesn’t mean you can’t post or share, but that shouldn’t be the intention behind recording your favorite moments of your trip. I really make a point to stay off social and email as much as pos-sible while traveling, and I have enjoyed my time so much more because of it. I love to take photos of everything while on a trip, but it also feels nice knowing they are for me to look back on, and not taken for likes, comments, and views.
Make a soundtrack
Make a playlist, and build onto it while on your trip. Listen to those songs on repeat while exploring countries by train, biking down the beach front path, taking off on the airplane, or driving back roads in your car. For me, creating that soundtrack for each travel destination helps enhance the experience. An amazing bo-nus is listening to those same songs when you’re back home, and letting the memories flood back in.