Yesterday, I returned home from an amazing 10 day vacation in the Caribbean! My fiancé and I took a cruise from Miami to Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and then back to Miami.

Many of you know my life has been laser focused on opening the new Chicago Loop CPY Yoga Studio since early November, and it was nice to take a break, relax and enjoy some sun (something we don’t have much of right now in Chicago!) 

During this trip, I really focused on staying present in order to enjoy and soak up every minute. Sometimes it can be hard to disconnect and truly let go of the “real world”. However, distractions can make it difficult to fully enjoy yourself when you’re constantly thinking about things happening at home.

Staying present is often something we talk about during yoga as being a way to let go of the past and the future, and just focus on right now. Being present helps us be calm in a fast paced world; it helps us deepen our connections with those around us, and allows us to not miss what’s happening now because we’re too focused on other things. While yoga is of course a great way to stay present (read my post 5 Benefits of Practicing Yoga While Traveling) it is not the only way. Here are my top 10 ways to stay present while traveling:

1. Explore a new city or place

It’s pretty difficult to be distracted while lying on a beautiful beach, hiking in the mountains and exploring new cities. Traveling and seeing new places is a great way to reduce stress and completely take your mind off things going on at home. It also is a good reminder that sometimes we think our worlds exist in the small bubbles that we live in, and there is so much out there to see. It’s a good reality check and can put things in perspective.

2. Make time to disconnect from technology

I’m sure you all can tell, but I am definitely a technology addict. I love my phone, I wear my Apple watch at all times, and I check social media accounts multiple times every single day. I enjoy being the first to know things, and I pride myself on my ability to respond quickly to emails. But while scrolling social media can be relaxing at times, it can be a pretty big distraction while traveling.

I made a point to limit my social media use to the mornings and evenings when we got back from our day trips. I took all pictures in the first hour of arriving at each port, and then put my phone away for the remainder of the day until we were back on the ship. It was actually really nice to disconnect, and I didn’t think about all the emails I had waiting for me or experience any FOMO from watching friends Instagram stories.

3. Try something new

Travel is a powerful thing. When we take ourselves out of our comfort zones, put ourselves in new situations, and immerse ourselves in new places, amazing things can happen. We have opportunities to change the way we see things, how we think, and how we understand the world.  

Ask yourself: are you a creature of habit? Do you find yourself eating the same kind of food, doing the same kind of things, and hanging out with the same people all the time? Not to say any of these things are bad, but traveling is a wonderful opportunity to break out of your shell and try something different.

4. Meditate

I love meditating on vacation! Even for just a few minutes every day, meditation is one of my favorite ways to stay present and enjoy the moment. I meditated several times on my balcony listening to the waves, lying on the beach, and even before bed. Meditation doesn’t have to be this long and crazy thing – it can just be a few minutes where you sit and mindfully clear your thoughts, and notice the sounds around you, how the air smells, etc. Sometimes those periods of total stillness can end up being my favorite moments of the trip!

5. Eat and drink mindfully

Vacations are a great time to not only relax, but to also indulge in foods and beverages we wouldn’t normally consume at home. And while I am absolutely guilty of doing all the above – it’s something to note that spending a day on vacation with a hangover is not so great. Neither is stuffing yourself to the brim, so your food coma is overwhelming (also guilty!)

While drinking can be fun, if you’re constantly drunk during your trip, it can be hard to enjoy every minute (or remember it all). I also get really bad hangover anxiety, and it tends to be a damper on my day. Because of this, I try not to overdo it with the alcohol. Have fun but be mindful with your decisions.

6. Allow yourself downtime

It can be tempting to plan out every minute of every day with activities, day trips, excursions, and sightseeing. While it is great to see everything that each place has to offer, traveling can also be just as fun if you allow yourself some downtime to JUST RELAX!

Our society is always on the go, and we often look at relaxing or sleeping in as laziness. But for real, when is the last time you took time other than the weekend to relax? I tend to run myself into the ground without even realizing it. I had no idea how exhausted my body was until I went to sleep the first night. Before filling up your vacation to-do list, ask yourself “will I really come away from this trip feeling refreshed, recharged, and renewed?” If the answer is no, let it go!

7. Take some time to be alone

It can be so much fun to travel with a group of friends or a significant other, but it can also be exhausting. I am an introvert by nature, and I really enjoy taking time to be alone, even if just for a little while. Gerry and I would allow ourselves space to do our own thing every so often. Sometimes he would explore the boardwalk, and I would lay out in the sun on our deck. It allowed us both time to do what we enjoyed and “recharge” our batteries. You don’t always have to be with people to get the most out of your trip.

8. Chase the sun

Vitamin D can do wonders for the soul! Seriously, there is something so healing about being in the sun and enjoying time in nature. Most of my working hours are spent indoors, and taking time to be in nature can be truly therapeutic. My mood improves significantly, my skin gets clearer, and I’m just happier overall. Breathe in the fresh air and let everything else go!

9. Don’t just do it for “The Gram”

I love creating content for Instagram and my blog, but it’s not the whole purpose of the trip. If you’re constantly obsessing on how your vacation can outshine your friend’s photos on Instagram, it can consume your time and ruin any chance you have of staying present and truly enjoying the moment. Take some pics, and then put your phone away. Life is not all about how cool we look on social media.  

10. Enjoy time with the people you’re with!

Last but not least, enjoy yourself! Take time to enjoy being present with other people in real life. Sometimes I trick myself into thinking I’m being social while talking to people from behind a screen, but it’s not the same thing as spending quality time with other people. Ditch the phone and spend time laughing over dinner, or making s’mores around a campfire. This will help you not only appreciate the present moment, but also the wonderful people in your life. 

How do you stay present when you travel? Let me know in the comments section below! 

Xo,

Steph Morgan

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