By Dr. Kathleen Regan, ND
The March Break is almost upon us. It is family travel time! Traveling with family members big and small can be challenging. I remember an old teacher once saying “If you think you are enlightened – spend a week travelling with your family!” Certainly, these times can test our patience but they are also the best of times for creating memories, strengthening bonds and reconnecting to the the important people in our life. If you are worried about how you will make it through, try these suggestions for mindful travel with family.
1. Choose one experience per day. It is tempting to try and ‘do it all’ but choosing one meaningful experience per day can help to keep things simple. Sit down with your family and ask each member the one thing they would really like to see or do while travelling. Make a schedule to fit these activities in. This way, each person will feel heard. If there are too many people and not enough days – be open to splitting up. A little mindful conversation and planning around expectations can go a long way!
2. Resist the urge to do more. Try to resist the urge to jam your day full of activities. The premise of mindfulness is that you take the time to really experience the moment through all of your senses. If you are too busy, your mind will constantly be on the next activity without fully enjoying the moment. You are better off to miss a few of the sites and really take in the moment. The goal is to fill yourself with inspiration from your travels NOT to wear yourself down so that you need another vacation.
3. Be flexible. “The wind does not break a tree that bends.” This proverb speaks to the importance of being open to change. Events do not always go as we plan – especially while traveling. Part of the beauty of travel is in the NEW EXPERIENCES. Be open, be curious and allow yourself to engage in the moment.
4. Keep a journal. Taking some time each day to find a quiet spot and pen your thoughts, observations and experiences will help you to take the most from your moments and carry that inspiration forward into the future.
5. Plan for regular meals & snacks. The naturopath in me can’t help but add this in! Regular meals are not specifically a part of mindfulness but keeping your energy up will give your body and mind the energy it needs to make decisions, remain present and practice flexibility. This is particularly important for families with children who need to keep energy levels and focus high. When we don’t eat we become more fatigued, irritable and over-sensitive to our surroundings.