Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Smell, eat, listen, cycle, hike, take the train, the bus, the plane, horse ride.. Be mindful, keep moving, open your eyes and keep all your senses in alerte. You might be surprised, even by re-discovering your own area. “Going on a journey involves experiencing your own senses: seeing, touching, hearing, and smelling the new, unusual, and unique atmosphere of places you visit while on vacation.” (1).
Travelling designs a movement from a place A to a destination B. The movement use different types of mobility (car, public transport, plane, sustainable mobility such as walking, etc.) and is part of the experience. However, travelling becomes a form of vacation itself when its main purpose is a constant search for movements. It is commonly associated with some practises such as backpacking or going on a road-trip.
While travelling, the way you choose to move and prepare yourself will give you different experiences and a different purpose. In terms of mobility, the movement is one of the main parts of the travel experience. It allows to access to specific places, involving new approaches between humans and their surroundings. It offers different perceptions of the landscapes depending of the transport used. (PEYRON, 2004). The way you choose to move is rather important. There is a gap between the slowness of a hiking track and the speed of the motorised transports, between attentive contemplation of the landscape and the quick disappearance of a real space. (2) Mixing the slowness of hiking and the quickness of a car are powerful ways to boost the process of self-discovery and can bring new perspectives for a same area.
Each human has a different story different perspectives to see, experience and approach the world. It is as unique as who we are, based on our belief system. All those experiences create emotions, sensations influenced by ‘objective entities outside us’ (Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, page 181), by the environment which surrounds us. As mentioned in a previous article, memories are printed in our brain and body following an experience. While travelling, it is possible to create different memories giving you a good or a bad feeling attached to it. Those emotions can be facilitated and even amplified by actionning our five senses.
I don’t know about you, personally when I travel I try to be mindful activating all my senses. I also try to experience the same area through different approaches : cycling, walking, driving, flying, etc. That way, each time I discover something new. Of course it depends on each person's abilities and resources. s said before, what is important is to be aware that a gap exist between the slowness of a walk and a speed of a car. Your perception of the landscape will be as different as the memory your are going to attached to it. Pick the movement you prefer and realise that you don't need to go far to loose yourself and be on a little adventure.
Personally, I love hiking. Travelling by foot gives the chance to enjoy the scenery fully, to stop whenever and wherever you want, accessing some places that you can’t even reach in any another ways. You can choose the pace, take your time, stop to take pictures , enjoying the smells and the details of the scenery. You can even connect with other people, just like when you take a public transport. I can walk for hours and kilometres without seeing the time going and you know what is cool with memories is that you can access them whenever you wish just by activating your sense again: looking to a picture, recreating a smell or a meal, looking at a picture, or even by mental picturing.
That way, I will always I remember one of those times while I was kayaking in Canada. Do you see that picture above? For you you might only observe a women, a mountain and a feet; for me this is one of those pictures that brings me to an amazing memory. That day I was with one of my travel friend, you know one of those that you meet at the airport and you cannot leave behind! We were at Vermillion Lake in The Canadian Rockies. When I look at this picture, I can feel the sun onto my skin, the freshness of the clear water, the sounds of the insects, my friend laugh, this amazing mountain in front of us that we might hike one day. That moment I was in peace. I was present and felt fulfilled.
My little Australian brother is one of those who doesn’t understand why I love so much slow travel, hiking, and tells me that I love to do boring things but when I shared with him that I saw a mountain goat in the middle of the mountains or crossed a bear into the forest sharing some amazing pictures, I finally get his whole attention. I explained those memories are precious as they allow me to go back to positive sensations and emotions when I am having a hard time in life. By remembering those little moments, I am able to swift my focus from a negative sensation to a good one giving myself positive energies. They also are some of the best stories to share.
And you, how do you create and keep memories ? How do you go back to them ?
I give you a little challenge !
I like to bring some people along for hikes. The last one we went to Lerderderg Gorges (Australia) and the theme was about emotional awareness being into nature. I gave a challenge to the team. You can try this little experiment by yourself.
Go for a walk, if possible into nature. Walk for a little while just being fully present. Focus on each step. Then, stop and sit down for 5 minutes. Listen to the sounds, observe what surround yourself in detail, seek the tiny insects and animals. Smell the flower next to you if you have one. Now if you wish, draw or take a picture of one thing that will make you remember this exact moment. Write down the emotions and feelings you just experience then three words on a paper or you phone.
Now that you have created new tools, keep them safe, go back home and experience this second of this experiment :
1 - Sit somewhere and close your eyes.
2- Think about one of the most terrible moments that happened in your life. Take your memory back there. Remember who was there, where you were but the most important focus on the emotions you had . Hold on to them for few seconds.
3- Then, switch to a thought about an event that brought you happiness, fulfillment. Remember the memory of that place you went for a walk that you created for example. You can even look at the picture and words you wrote. Remember the people your were with, the whole situation. Hold on to the sensations for few seconds or minutes. Focus on the feelings going through your body.
4 - Then, open your eyes.
Before you carry on reading I suggest you to do the experiment now so you won’t be influenced by what I wrote.
What did you notice ? what did you learn ?
I personally learnt that each thought brings a physical sensation by just focusing on it. I observed that we have the ability to master our thoughts, and sensations attached to it by making the choice to focus on a single idea at a time. A thought is attached to a feeling that you experienced before and live again associated to a new situation, like a print in your mind and body. You might notice that your can be indifferent emotionally toward a situation that never occurred to you already, where you don’t identify yourself. I also noticed that this sensation is just for a moment, it passes and doesn’t stay if I choose to let it go. Mindfulness, self-awareness and meditation help in this exercise to master our thoughts and what do we do with them.
(1) Site : Academic Help, "Travelling Vacations vs Staycations", 23May 2012. https://academichelp.net/samples/academics/essays/compare-contrast/travelling-vacations-vs-staycations.html
(2) End of Master project : Delphine GIMAT, ""Mobilité(s)" La problématique des flux de personnes dans les espaces touristiques à forts enjeux de résilience environnementale".2015