Happier Travel – better Appreciation for your experiences

Appreciation may be the single most important aspect of life. To recognise and enjoy the world around us is to live a simpler, happier and more relaxed life. Lacking that main character energy? Read on for how appreciation for your experiences may just lift your life to another level.

To quote one of my favourite main characters: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it”. Well what’s the point of any of it if you’re not here to take it in? And I don’t just mean here physically, I mean really here! Consciously aware, paying full undistracted attention, taking it all in and appreciating every day!

Why its important?

Not sold? Here’s 3 significant reasons that appreciation is important!

Perspective

Better appreciation improves your perspective. Better perspective improves your appreciation. The two can work off each other in an endlessly positive spiral. The more you appreciate the things that you do have, the experiences that you can live, the more you develop perspective of how truly blessed we are to have these things. How things that we take for granted on a daily basis are really a miracle and a blessing. Appreciation helps you slow down and realise the gravity of your problems likely aren’t as significant as what your brain can turn them into.

Mindfulness:

Appreciating can make you more mindful of the people and environment you exist within. Creating awareness of everything going on around you, the feelings of others, the results of our actions. The more mindful and aware you are of this, the better you can comprehend and empathise with the world around you.
What does this mean? It means it makes you a better person to be around, a better supporter and encourager to those around you. A better person.

Happiness:

This one is clear and simple. Appreciating the experiences in your life makes you happier. Embracing the best of the times and finding the lessons or the positives within the worst times. Learning to appreciate is learning to find happiness within every day moments.

So what are some simple ways to improve your appreciation for these experiences?

5 of the best ways to enhance appreciation of your experiences.

Being present

A simple one, but one of vital importance! If you’re not focusing on the present moment, then where are you? Worrying about a deadline at work? Thinking of a conversation from last year? No matter where your brain is floating off to, it’s not this moment happening right now, and that is a problem.

Make conscious effort to remain present. Pay attention to your surroundings, observe the things around you, take note of your senses. Try to clear your mind of anything in the past or anything upcoming and indulge fully in exactly where you are.

My favourite method of being present is to try the 5/4/3/2/1 senses rule.


Take a breath and go through these 1 at a time.
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste.

The best part? You don’t need to be experiencing anything new or exciting to practice this, its a great rule to use anytime, any place. Practice it right now wherever you’re reading this! What have you got to lose?

Solo moments

A similar yet more extensive point to “being present” are a little thing I like to call solo moments, or HBGIT moments (more on that below). Moments wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, when you can almost hit pause for a second, almost remove yourself completely, almost float out of your body and look around and just think to your self “how bloody good is this” (HBGIT).

If you know, you really know. It’s a special and unique moment of observation that is unmatched by almost anything else. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, then you’re in for a treat when you take a moment to feel it.

Sometimes these moments take a little conscious effort to occur, but once you practice appreciation enough they can even pop up on you subconsciously!

Once you’re in that moment, capitalise!! Dive into what you’re feeling, what you’re grateful for and paint a picture of that image to keep in your memory.

I often practice this feeling when I finally reach a new location that’s been on the bucket list for a while or when I’m reuniting with a loved one after an extensive period of time. Though, similar to the last point, it doesn’t need to be a spectacular event to practice this. Your favourite dinner with a good friend. The moment you dive into the beach on a hot day. Watching your sports team win a close game. How bloody good!

Make a conscious effort to come to these moments and then watch them begin to come to you.

Journalling

I have encouraged it before and I will encourage it again. I mentioned it in my first article “avoiding travel burnout, mental health on the road” and for good reason.

Keeping a travel journal can take your travel experience and your appreciation to the next level!

In the present, its an awesome way to unpack, practice gratitude and reflect on your adventures. In the future, reviewing your previous journalling can take you back in time, and give you that nostalgic feeling like flipping through old photos 💙

While taking photos can capture the image, journalling can capture the feelings, what you liked, what you felt, what you were looking forward to and whatever else important you want to include.

From my trips where I have journalled, in comparison to when I haven’t, I have a significant difference in memory and gratefulness from the trips. Now I can never go back.

Don’t think you have the time or skills to journal properly? Here’s the best part: There is no rules, there is no right way, there is no “good at it”, it’s just for you, scribble in an old notebook or write in your notes in your phone. There’s never a reason you can’t try it.

Stuck where to start? Give these a go!

– Your favourite part of your day today

– Something you’re looking forward to

– An interaction that made you happy

– A person you are grateful for

– 10 words that describe how you’ve felt today.

Start with answering these with 1 sentence each, it takes 3 minutes. Then build from there. Journalling is a super useful tool for enhancing appreciation for experiences and is easy for anyone!

Take Photos/Videos

Take photos? Obviously right? Not always.

In my early travel adventures, I took almost no photos or videos and I wish I had more things to visually reflect with now. In contrary, my more recent travels I have taken plenty of content, and I’m yet to ever have the feeling of “damn I should have taken less photos”.

Younger me may have been a little snobby to the idea that the 2 points from this article “take photos” and “be present” could coexist. What i have come to learn with an abundance of experience and reflection is that if you’re actively practising appreciation and gratitude, taking photos and videos can enhance it, not hinder it.

The era of online content is beneficial in a plethora of ways. But it can often lead to competition for the best shot, to show off your location and various other negative things to feed into.

Let those things take a back-seat . Snap a photo from the viewpoint with your friend to set it as your lock screen and reflect in years to come, take a video at the concert of your favourite song to capture your excitement of the moment and re watch when your feeling down. Let social media be a bonus on top, or let it be somewhere you share to inspire those you love to do the same!

Share the moment

Reflection with others is one of the absolute best ways to enhance appreciation for experiences.

Whoever you’re travelling with or sharing your new experiences with, there is no better way to increase your appreciation as well as your connection with each other than shared reflection.

Grab your partner, friend or travel buddy and practice reflecting on your adventure.

An awesome activity that i learnt from a friend recently and have put into practice is the rose, bud and thorn.

Share with each other your
Rose: favourite part of the experience
Thorn: least favourite part of the experience
Bud: something you’re looking forward to.

Solo traveller? Don’t think for a second this would ever leave you out of group reflection! Wherever you are, there is always people sharing your experience!

My all time favourite shared reflection experience came while solo travelling. After visiting Auschwitz – Birkenau in Poland, the pub crawl advertised by the hostel I was staying at was clearly the last thing in the world I wanted to do. So a group of us that had all been to Auschwitz in the previous days ended up having a quiet drink and reflecting on our emotions and perspective of our experience. Shout out to the Krakow crew, y’all were special!

Check out “Auschwitz – Birkenau, an important experience” for more reflection on that.

If you want to get more out of your travels, more out of your experiences and more out of your every day life. Give these a try. Each of these points requires no equipment, not a lot of time and can be done solo, with a partner/friend or with a group. So what’s your excuse? Start working on your appreciation of your experiences and watch your happiness soar. 

Which of these resonates the most with you? Is there any you love that I haven’t listed? Let me know!!

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