I’m lucky in that I’ve had many memorable moments traveling the world — but mostly, I went on new adventures a bit blindly. While I had some amazing experiences, I wasn’t being as intentional with how I was spending my time while exploring a new place.
My goal was to travel once a month this year. I also did it with the goal of being more mindful about learning and growing, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. After aligning my travel activities with my personal values, traveling became more simple and of course, meaningful.
I am a big fan of journaling — I call it introspective self-therapy. Through journaling, I learned a lot about myself because I was forced to examine my daily habits, routines, productivity, and emotions and then write it down, with intentional prompts that encourage growth.
For example — what did I learn each day? What could I improve upon? How am I growing, as a human?
I started making lists of what was important to me — my values, my beliefs, and eventually, those things became my mantra. It translates to every corner of my life, including travel.
My ‘life mantras’
- Embrace a growth mindset.
- Take responsibility for everything in your life.
- Build and maintain strong relationships.
- Be fearless.
- Be grateful.
- Be physically healthy, active and strong.
- Spend money on feeding your soul.
Once I figured this part out, it was a lot easier to figure out what I wanted out of my travels and as a result, I felt less indecisive about what I want to do.
Not only is it a waste of brain space, it can be paralyzing when you’re alone and don’t have your travel companion to help make the decision for you.
What I enjoy doing
I love walking. I used to run a lot, and after years of pounding the pavement, my foot has finally quit on me. I self-diagnosed my left foot with a mean case of plantar fasciitis, so this year I stopped running and I just walk everywhere. When I say I like to walk, I usually cover 5-10 miles, daily.
I load up my phone with audiobooks and podcasts and go. I sometimes use this time to meditate too — walking meditations are challenging, but it can be done!
I use walking as a great way to see a new city. Sometimes I’ll listen to audiobooks about a particular city while I’m walking — it’s my poor man’s version of a walking tour, sort of.
Museums, historic homes, art galleries, the “hot spots” of town.
It’s an educational way to see a city, especially if it has a rich history. It’s also inexpensive.
Mostly in intimate settings, like local bars.
The more the merrier. I have a terrible weakness for coffee, lattes and desserts.
It’s a great and inexpensive way to see the city. My rule is to only take Uber/Lyft if it’s past midnight or if I’m tired.
Spending money on every meal is a waste of money. I usually go to the local supermarket in town and load up on breakfast foods and healthy snacks like yogurt, oatmeal, almonds, bananas and apples. Otherwise, I’d be stopping at every single cafe and ordering up some kind pastry.
I love movies but don’t get a chance to go to the theater nearly as much as I want. I started watching movies alone when I lived in NYC in my 20s. Back then I was a teacher and finished work at 3pm. So I’d hit the theater every chance I got.
The local city park
Depending on the weather, I will always make my way to see some trees, soak up the sun, and go for a long walk and check out the scenery.
Not every city has this, but it’s worth Googling. When I was in Montreal, I found out that there was a decent staircase hike that goes to the top of the city called Plateau Mont Royal.
Local farmers market/fresh food
This is also an awesome way to see what the locals are doing, and eat something good too.
If the town is mostly scenic with an abundance of nature, I’ll always check to see if there are any tours that offer horseback riding.
I love horses, and I’ve been riding since high school. After years of riding sad, defiant trail horses who don’t listen to your commands, I was finally able to ride a real horse IN Alaska. It was a 2,000-pound behemoth draft horse!