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Updated June 2021
To process travel means to come back from a trip somewhere, reflecting on what you experienced, and learning how to continue taking from that trip, and implementing what you just experienced into your life post-trip.
Whether you traveled to a place near or far, for a long or short period of time.
However, what’s a trip somewhere if you don’t take a moment after you’ve arrived back home to reflect on the things you just experienced?
The people you met, the new foods you tried, the times you put ourselves out of your comfort zone, the breathtaking sights you finally took in for yourself, that instilled feelings of euphoric happiness for living in the moment, a glimpse into a life of freedom, and feeling into a state of ultimate gratitude.
When we travel, I believe, we enter a state of ultimate possibility, and an opportunity to be ourselves. To be in touch with what we want, what makes us happy, and basking all that in. There’s just something about a change of scenery.
There is song lyric that I absolutely love that I can’t help but share here that I think encapsulates this sentiment better than anything:
Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudesJimmy Buffett
As these moments are happening on your travels, you sometimes don’t have time to react because you are living in the moment.
Sometimes when we come back home from a trip, our instinct may be to unpack our suitcases and put away our belongings, rather than unpack our minds and accommodate these new, fresh perspectives into ourselves and our life from here on out.
Below are just a few things that I do to process travel, and how in a world and culture of constant GO GO GO (especially if you’re from the U.S where we pride ourselves on how busy we are) we can take the time to process travel, and understand what we just went through, in order to improve our lives.
Travel being transformative by nature, and beautiful because of what we experienced in another part of the world, it has to mean something, and we must allow it and ourselves time to make even more sense of it.
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Play relaxing music
Playing music in order to get your mind into a state of flow.
When your mind is in a state of flow, it’s in a state of openness.
Music and memory connection research has come a long way in determining the positive effects on various mental disabilities and illnesses.
Music also triggers memories and emotions like no other.
An article on BBC explains that the melody of a song has the power to provide something more tangible, like a rhythm or rhyme that can help us go into our minds and unlock different memories with these rhythmic cues.
They say it well by explaining that a song’s structure helps us remember things as well as remembering the lyrics of a song; only here the lyrics and melody bring images and feelings to us.
It’s relaxing, it’s inviting, it’s the perfect setting to get yourself into your memory.
A little jazz or classical music, or maybe a song that we heard while we were on our trip, local or popular.
The typical music from that country or city that you visited.
Doing this will allow you to prime your minds and get the memories flowing back.
In order to process travel, the memories need to come to the surface, as well as the lessons and new perspectives that you were able to get on your trip.
Now that the memories are coming back, it’s time to think about them now as you are back home, away from our previous surroundings.
Unpack the mind before the suitcase
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Now that you’re home, and you’re remembering the things you saw, did, experienced with the power of music, it’s time to reflect on what you did.
Giving yourself that space and time to let the memories flow is an important part of processing travel.
It doesn’t really matter the duration of the trip, the distance that you traveled because at the end of it all, despite it all, you come back with something new.
A perspective, an experience that taught us something, and new favorite food, a new friend even.
It’s these things that can slip away the moment you set foot in the door of your homes and decide to go on autopilot and become flooded yet again, with a million things to do before xyz.
Instead of getting sucked into this pattern (that you ironically just took a trip to escape for a bit), you must take the time to play some music, light a candle maybe and do what you need to do to make the space comfortable and inviting.
Doing this before you start to physically unpack your bags, before you look at our mail, or tend to other things you left while on the trip, will help in ways that you will see the more you do it.
Sit down, and just be for a moment with the thoughts.
Look back at the photos
Another personal favorite way I use to process travel is to look back on photos and videos taken on my trip.
Like music, it’s a tangible item that will allow our brains to look at it in an instant, and remember other things that happened.
Perhaps before or after the photo was taken for example.
Regardless, it’s always fun to go down memory lane and look back on photos that you take on your trips.
Remembering and seeing how happy, real, and fearless you can be with each photo and video.
It’s not to say that you can’t be this way in your day to day lives, but at the same time, there’s something about the spontaneity, the mystery of being somewhere unknown, the thrill of perhaps not knowing many people and not many people knowing you, that is refreshing.
It allows us to in a way, break out of a mold that we along with our circle and society have molded for ourselves.
And when you travel with all these new factors, it can be exhilarating to just be, any way you want to.
So, looking at you travel photography can stir some or all of these emotions.
It can provoke extended teachings from your travels, and it can influence your decisions in your day to day going forward.
To process travel by looking at photography means looking back, remembering what you learned, and allowing that to help create questions in your mind and to determine your decisions in your day to day, and future.
This is why it’s important.
Talk it out
If you traveled with someone, or even if you went on your own, talking about your travels with someone can be one of the most beneficial things you can do to process travel.
Now, I know that there is a fine line between sharing a beautiful memory and boasting about an experience that you had on a trip.
You definitely want to consider being mindful about how to go about this, so it doesn’t come off as someone who doesn’t know how to talk about their travels without sounding like they’re bragging.
However, once you understand how to talk about your travels with someone, doing this can help you in releasing to someone what your trip was like, what you learned, what you liked, and how you liked it.
Doing this, especially after you’ve have taken the time to process your trip on your own, coming up with your own conclusions on how you want to keep the learning going, and overall deciphering the impact and change (even the most subtle) you would like to place into your life from now on, will help someone else just as much as it helps you.
It’s permission for yourself and others to think and desire those things you dream about.
Those places you want t go to, and those experiences you long for.
You deserve them, and so does everyone else.
So, talk about it. Relish it. Share it.
Travel is meant to be experienced, yes, but it’s also meant to be shared.
The stories you accumulate on your trips, the lessons, and even the practical tips, are all things that people communicate to others, and most of us do it not only to talk about the beauty of it but also to help one another.
That’s why blogs like this one exist. It’s our way of processing travel and sharing with others.
We are talking to you about our experiences, lessons, and new perspectives and goals because of what we experienced on our trip.
It’s a beautiful thing to share and relate to.
Journal to process
Keeping a journal on your travels is a time honored way of documenting a trip.
From the times of the first explorers to those that travel write for a living nowadays, journaling is an extremely positive, simple, and impactful way of keeping track of not only your travel experiences but also what each day brings to you and how you feel about it.
It’s your diary basically to share your impressions on finally seeing and experiencing things for yourself, and what it means to you, and how it makes you feel.
An article on the effects of journaling while traveling explains perfectly that keeping a journal while you’re in new, exciting situations with a lack of daily work routine, creates an elevated sense of awareness, perception, and spontaneity.
Journaling from the moment you start a trip to the end will allow you to look back on, and not just reflect on the cool things you did, but also the growth and development in yourself while being in a new surrounding.
When it comes to ways to process travel, journaling after a trip can also be very beneficial, as the moment you come back from a trip, things are as fresh as they are going to be.
This is our golden opportunity to write down all the memories, lessons, and experiences that are coming back to you, and adding what it means now.
If you experienced something big and impactful, how is it going to shape your life now that you’re back home?
It only takes a few of these prompts to get your mind in a writing frenzy that may cramp your hand but will help you process travel more for the greater good of your life.
Travel (big and small) changes us somehow, but it’s up to us to keep it going for as long as we want.
It doesn’t all necessarily stop at some arbitrary line.
And to help you practice and get started reflecting on your travels, I have created a FREE Pre and Post Travel Journal Prompts to help guide your travel reflection process.
I created this in mind for those who want to keep learning about their travels, and want to document their growth, before and after their travel experiences.
If this resonates with you, then leave your name and email below to get a FREE copy for yourself.
Continuing the adventure
…and the curiosity and education.
Continue the fun of learning something new, of what it was like to learn a new word in a foreign language, of what it was like to see how locals of a city lived their life and seeing what you liked about that and how you can implement it into your life.
Cooking up a new dish that you tried on your trip and everything else that left you with an “aha!” moment.
Watch movies, listen to the music from the country you just visited.
We live in a time where we can go on Spotify and look up top hits in __________ country or on YouTube and watch music videos and famous YouTubers from different countries.
Learn from the locals even when you’re not physically there.
The world is so connected, you can use it to your advantage to continue learning about the world from your trip.
Keep this practice up, and you’ll continue to learn from travel weeks, months, and years from now, to improve your life, even when you can’t physically travel.
Travel and the lessons we get from living it has as much power as we give it.
If we intend to learn from what we just lived for years to come, we have to create the intention to do so.
To more travel moments like these ✨