Being present and purposeful can save you stress and add focus to anything you do, including travel. Whether you’re planning an active adventure, mapping a road trip, or heading off for some post-graduation fun in the sun with friends, setting an intention for your trip can help make it a memorable experience. We talked with seven travelers about what they hope to accomplish and why jet-setting with intention has made a difference.
To Travel With Respect and Gratitude
Misty Foster, the blogger behind Green Suitcase Travel, tells us that going to Bali with an intention to have a sense of respect and gratitude offered her a different kind of trip. “I had been practicing mindfulness meditation for a few years and already believed in the power of setting intentions, so I was thrilled to practice mindfulness in my travels,” she shares. “Since I already had a strong interest and background in ethical tourism, I set the intention to connect on a deeper level with the people and culture of Bali in a respectful way. My entire trip was full of magical interactions and moments, more so than many of the trips I had taken in the past. I made friends with a Brahman, and we talked about gender identity politics within the Hindu culture; we even talked about placentas! He also carved a protective talisman for me that is unique to my future desires and goals.”
To Learn a New Language
“The past two weeks I was in Southern Italy, in the spur of the boot area called Gargano National Park. Knowing that I’m going to be in a non-English-speaking area, I had set an intention to connect with locals and improve my Italian language skills,” explains Agita Wijaya, a marketing manager for Creative Edge Travel. “Setting this intention from the beginning helped me to push myself to start a conversation with locals, and this was no easy feat at first — especially with my limited Italian! My fears were that I’m going to sound stupid, I’m going to offend someone, or they will just not talk to me since I’m not from the area. All of that was debunked quickly.” Wijaya says that she had no idea a simple conversation could turn into a friendship or that her fear of sounding stupid would quickly disappear. “I found out that the locals I spoke with were more than happy to correct my grammatical errors, and they let me try to finish my word or sentence without interrupting me. I gained new friends, new perspectives, and new life lessons that I will cherish forever.”
To Stay (Mostly) Offline
“I set intentions before a big trip because I feel it helps me make the most of my adventure in a new destination,” notes Lindsay Stein from Nom Nom Blog. “Last time, I set an intention to not be too caught up in social media and emails while traveling. Because it can be overwhelming to completely quit, I set an intention to dedicate just one hour after the day to check emails and post any images on social media from that day.”
To Be More Present
“Typically when I travel, I have no preconceived goals; I want the location and my experience to lead the way. In Mongolia, however, it was different,” Susan Portnoy from The Insatiable Traveler shares. “I wanted to improve my skills at ‘seeing’ those precious moments when a subject, light, and composition come together. To do this, I knew I would need to be more present. This meant no daydreaming or thinking about what I was going to do later.” Portnoy says that after a few days she was astounded by how connected she felt to the people and places I visited. “It not only made my images better — it made my trip a much richer and deeper experience.”
To See the Bigger Picture
“As a fine art photographer, I’ve worked on different projects which require me to travel to many places,” Jennifer Irving tells us. “However, my latest project ‘Wild We Roam’ is a multi-year, international series focusing on 20 wild horse habitats that still remain across the world.” Irving expresses that she’s always been intrigued by the mystical and magical beauty of horses. “I set forth this intention: Instead of simply documenting wild beauty, the project emphasizes the larger contexts in which the horses exist — and the environmental, political, and economic pressures shaping their future.” Irving says that by setting this intention, she’s captured some of her best work to date, including at the hard-to-reach setting of Sable Island. “With this, I’ve also received so much amazing support from various wild horse collectives and protection organizations and nonprofits,” she gushes.
To Uncover Inspiring New Spots
Joanna Lin, a travel content creator, says that her constant desire to spark wanderlust and curiosity in the world for others and inspire solo travel enhances her adventure. Most recently, she went to Hong Kong with an intention to seek out the most unique hotspots the city has to offer. “Almost all of my travels have been solo, except for my Hong Kong video series, where I traveled with a videographer. It was my first time directing/producing, and the outcome was so well received by both the HK Tourism Board and participating venues that I was invited back to shoot more. In traveling, I have always thought about my audience and how to better tell stories of others… In this sense, my intention for travel is beyond personal leisure but as a way to educate and inspire others.” Of setting this intention, Lin agrees, “It definitely makes every trip more fulfilling.”
To Let It Go
Valerie Brett is a yoga teacher in Hawaii who tells us that travel stresses used to cause her anxiety. “To combat this, traveling with one intention allows me to stay calm and collected. Since I am a normally anxious person, my intention has become ‘let go.’” Brett says this allows her to release expectations, especially in instances of planning, delays, and unexpected mishaps. “Before I used this intention, I would make lists of all the things I wanted to do and places I wanted to eat, and then I would be upset if I didn’t get to it all — which, let’s be honest, is always impossible. Now, I bring my lists with me so that I know what good options are, but I can also relax and actually enjoy the experience of being in a new place.”