How to travel intentionally (& why it’s important)

travel intentionally
Live music at the desert camp on a past journey to Morocco. All rights reserved.

Many people love to travel, in fact, if you ask people what they enjoy doing or what they like, a lot will say to travel. Social media platforms are flooded with tips on how to travel on a  budget, where the best places to eat in famous cities are, and how to travel like a local, but, in this glamorisation of travel, we can sometimes end up travelling for travel’s sake—travelling without intention. When doing this, we miss out on all of the lessons and growth that happen when we travel intentionally.

We design our journeys with intentional travel in mind. Each location is selected because of the cultural, literary, or sacred importance of the place and the itineraries are carefully curated by teachers, healers and experts to ensure that each trip will cultivate transformation. Our newly released trip to Greece, which follows in the footsteps of the famous epic poem, The Odyssey, inspired us to look at how travelling with intention can be your journey home, your Odyssey. 

Be Here Now

In an interview Phil Cousineau did with us, he talked about a phenomenon that many of us will be familiar with. We go on a trip somewhere to visit a new place, it’s beautiful and perhaps you have a profound moment there, but our minds jump to making connections and comparisons with other places we may have visited in the past. Then when we are talking with our travel companions about the experience, we say ‘it was amazing and reminded me of…’ we are now no longer in Greece, Spain, Utah, or wherever it is, we are in the memories of past travel. 

When we do this, we take away from the current experience we are having and we then aren’t able to learn as much from the place we are at. We end up living in our minds rather than being where we are. Of course, we can not help that our minds automatically make connections, but when trying to travel intentionally, it is important to let these thoughts pass without expressing them so we don’t take away from the present moment. 

Less Is More

We are all guilty of wanting to cram as much as humanly possible into our vacation days. We have 2 weeks to explore Europe so we think visiting a museum in the morning in Italy followed by a 10-hour drive to visit the vineyards in Southern France in the evening is fine. However, when we do this we not only become extremely exhausted, but all of the places start to merge together, we aren’t able to fully take in the sites we are visiting and travel becomes a box-ticking activity of simply seeing this for the sake of saying we’ve seen them, without truly ‘seeing’ them.  

travel intetionally
Take time to slow down and appreciate the place you’re in. All rights reserved.

When our tour leaders plan our pilgrimages, they find a beautiful balance between visiting both famous and lesser-known sites and scheduling free time to rest and integrate the learning of the trip. So when planning your journeys, if you want to travel intentionally and allow your trip to enhance your life and be transformative, resist the urge to pack in too much, plus this gives you an excuse to go back at a later date to see all the things you missed. 

Look Through Your Eyes, Not the Lens 

In a similar vein to the previous point, we will often find ourselves experiencing the places we visit through the lens of our cameras. We will be in such a hurry to see everything, to tick everything off the list that we will show up at a historically important site, snap a couple of pictures and move on without really taking in the energies of the place itself. And be honest, how many times have you truly looked back on your holiday photos? And if you have, how long do you spend on each photo? Probably a couple of seconds. 

If we want to travel intentionally, to have a transformational experience from our pilgrimage, we have to pause, slow down and truly be in the locations we are visiting.

Be Social

When travelling to new places, it is easy to focus solely on architecture, food, history, etc, but what can take a journey from nice to life-changing is interacting with the locals and with other travellers. This is why we love that our journeys are made up of groups of like-minded travellers who can learn from not only the tour leaders but also each other. We also like to interact with locals at community and sacred sites along the way. 

travel intentionally
A group of pilgrims experiencing Machu Picchu together on a past journey to Peru. All rights reserved.

When we travel intentionally, we want to learn as much about the place we are visiting as possible and books and the internet are great, but to truly get inside knowledge, this is where the locals come in. They can tell you stories, show you the lesser-known but incredibly authentic spots and even give you inside tips so you can perhaps save money or beat the crowds. It is also a very fulfilling experience to make friends with people all over the world, they broaden your mind and it truly changes who you are as a person forever. 

Why Intentional Travel is Important 

We travel for many reasons, to relax, to see something new and/or to learn about something. When we don’t travel intentionally we can not do any of these things. We pack too much into our days to relax, or we relax so much we don’t see anything. We stick to resorts and miss out on the local culture or we simply snap a picture, tick the place off our list and move on to the next one. 

Intentional travel can allow you to have a relaxing, rejuvenating trip, while also experiencing a new culture, allowing you to learn something new about both the place you’re visiting and also yourself and leave you with a different outlook on life.