It’s always fun to take your family somewhere new, especially if you have adventurous spirits. There are so many things to do with your kids as they grow up, but many vacations will clash with your sustainable lifestyle. Here’s how to turn an ordinary trip into a mindful travel experience so your adventures never compromise your family’s mental health or carbon footprint.
What Is Mindful Travel?
Anyone can go on vacation, but that doesn’t mean every trip is helpful for your mental wellness or the planet. Activities can cause stress and arguing. Flying or driving to each new destination and what you do while there can also affect your carbon footprint — unless mindfulness is at the heart of every vacation.
Experts define mindfulness as the ability to be fully aware of what you’re doing at any given moment. It requires being present in your state of mind, but it can also involve research.
Mindful travel plans that are also eco-friendly require a bit of investigation. You’ll quickly learn the environmental consequences of your transportation and entertainment with some extra effort. Everyone can make sustainable decisions to reduce their family’s carbon footprint, waste, or pollution while strengthening their mental wellness.
How to Create a Mindful Trip
There are a few ways parents can turn an ordinary trip into a mindful experience. Some are tips you can use while you’re still at home. Others are helpful even if you’re currently out exploring the world.
1. Leave the Electronics at Home
Mindful environments have no distractions. What’s more distracting than an electronic screen? You’ll avoid annoying notifications or tempting news feeds by leaving your devices at home or in your hotel room.
Opt instead to be fully present in every moment with each other during your trip. Even if you spend your time going to the movies or another screen-related activity, you’ll remain mindfully present with your family by paying attention to what you’re doing with them. It may be an adjustment, but everyone will quickly realize how little their devices contribute joy or more profound experiences to their lives.
2. Call Potential Restaurants
There are a few ways families can be mindful of how they eat while on vacation. Talk with your kids about what they want for each meal so every bite is worth your time. You can also look up restaurants together and discuss which venues match your sustainable values.
Find out where each restaurant sources its ingredients or if its parent company has a green mission statement. You could complete this step before leaving your hotel room for meals. A quick phone call will reveal if there are sustainable menu options or if the management team takes mindful steps to reduce waste by recycling.
It all depends on how your family defines mindfulness. This is an easy step anyone can take to plan greener trips if eco-friendly practices are part of how you and your loved ones want to plan your vacations.
3. Research the Environmental Impact
Mindfulness practices teach followers that every action has a ripple effect on other people and the planet. That’s why it’s so important to be fully aware of whatever you decide to do, especially while traveling somewhere new. Find out if your planned activities are as good for the Earth as your mindfulness practice.
Your family might decide to take a day trip to a local zoo. Be sure to look into the zoo’s carbon footprint before you go. Places like the Maryland Zoo offset their emissions by calculating the carbon output of specific events, like light shows. Efforts like that will make visiting some destinations more mindful than others.
You can even do this research from your hotel room or rental home while on vacation. It’s easy to find green alternatives to traditional activities and swap them at the last minute.
4. Journal With Your Family
Bring everyone back to each other and center your thoughts by journaling together during your next trip. Everyone can pick out a notebook they like and their favorite writing tool. Spend 10 minutes describing each day’s experiences. After the timer runs out, you may want to share your entries to relive your memories and get more joy from your vacation.
Journaling is an excellent mindfulness activity that you can continue outside of trips, too. Writing about your day turns your focus inward. Instead of thinking about what tomorrow holds or what’s stressing you out, you’ll reflect on what brought you joy and sharpen your focus.
5. Hang Out in Nature
Mindfulness develops an interconnectedness that many people want with their family members and the world around them. Practice this mental health tool by hanging out with your loved ones in nature.
Go for family walks during your next vacation. Sit on the beach in the evening to listen to the waves or hike to a scenic view. Resting in the presence of nature reveals humanity’s dependency on the environment, which mirrors how everyone relies on each other as well. It’s an excellent reminder of what matters most in life.
Our family makes sure we watch a few sunsets together when we go to the Caribbean or on any beach vacation.
6. Reuse What You Can
Recycling can be a great way to teach your kids about mindful travel and daily routines. It reminds kids that their actions affect other people and the planet. Instead of stocking up on single-use plastic bottles, you can become more mindful by bringing a filtered water pitcher to your vacation spot.
Pack containers to save leftovers from restaurants and a bag for recyclable waste. Your vacations will become more mindful because your family will remember how their actions are foundationally interconnected with the world and humanity.
See: A Mindful Summer Bucket List for families to relax and enjoy some fun in the sun!
7. Give Your Family Free Time
It’s easy to create vacation schedules that dictate how you’ll spend your days down to the minute. You wouldn’t want to waste time while on an adventure, but leaving gaps in your plans for some freedom can be an excellent way to turn an ordinary trip into a mindful experience.
Use 10 or 15 free minutes to encourage your loved ones to check in with themselves. They can reflect on how they want to spend their remaining vacation time or journal about their day. Even using that break to talk about what you’re excited to experience next is an excellent way to reconnect and become more present during a trip.
8. Meditate With Each Other
Teach your kids the most crucial tool for mindfulness — meditation. It’s much easier to practice this healthy habit while away from demanding daily schedules or stressors. Breathe together to calm your mind and refocus your attention on the present. Meditation will help everyone enjoy their time together more fully, whether it becomes a vacation practice or a daily routine after returning home.
Why Is Mindful Travel Good for Families?
Families benefit from mindful travel in a few ways. Everyone should be fully present when they’re together to genuinely enjoy each trip. Families are also typically large groups, so sustainable travel plans reduce or eliminate significant amounts of pollution that would otherwise harm the environment.
It’s also a green learning opportunity for kids and teens. Get them involved in the research by asking them to help record the carbon emissions for your total mileage or read about eco-friendly hotels. They’ll get personally involved in your sustainability and take those positive habits into their adult years.
Plan Mindful Family Experiences
Anyone can learn how to turn an ordinary trip into a mindful experience with tips like these. You’ll prioritize your family’s time, energy and sustainable values by making simple changes to how you spend your days or plan your vacations.
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