Mindful travel musings in Malta

Often I just want to run away from a computer, overwhelmed by eight hours or more in front of one for work.

Other times, when without apparatus to scribble down my thoughts, I long for anything that will enable me to record ideas.

Writing is an outlet and my love, and I never feel more inspired than when I’m travelling. If I’m constantly thinking and on sensory alert, am I being mindful on the road?

Despite the media craziness and the threats that would have us believe we are barely safe to leave our or homes, I am at peace when I’m exploring somewhere new.

It might sound odd that I suggest travel is the best opportunity to actually practice mindfulness – on the road we’re always looking around, getting involved with the senses and quite possibly on a device like a laptop or phone. The mind can be busy.

However, I think we can experience mindfulness in an almost pure form while travelling and feeling new things; experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes. I feel blessed to be able to see the beauty in things too, without judgement. Difference is interesting, often charming.

I suppose awareness is the trick. And then, life is definitely beautiful.

I’m currently on a crowded bus in Malta that’s ferrying customers of all ages along the Sliema strip towards the capital Valletta, and then out towards where we are based in il Żurrieq. I struggle to maintain balance, holding on for dear life up the front of the bus and scrambling to tap my thoughts down into my iPhone’s Notes app. It’s around 7pm and this particular August day’s sunset has begun it’s decent across the harbour. All I can think is:

How enchanting, I wish I could share this with my loved ones [who I wish could be here as I know they’d appreciate it].

It’s at this point it occurred to me – after Cooper and I spent hours today creating travel content (videos and photography) we are proud of – that while the likes of us are sometimes frowned upon for the time we spend staring at a screen, we might be the mindful ones.

Other digital nomads understand where we’re coming from, and if you don’t, consider for a moment that we are not just playing around on our phones and being entirely anti-social; we are consciously paying attention for the beautiful moments. We are capturing them in the best way we know how: those landscapes, experiences, history, stories, that we can share to be inspiring, helpful, entertaining or informative (perhaps all of the above).

That’s what most travel bloggers intend. We are consciously seeking the photo, video, words that might inform and educate your next decision or judgement on any given destination.

In this way, those of us being conscious about creating and capturing are being mindful. And trust me, we are grateful for these moments because we are aware of just how precious they are.

We are also mindful to put the devices down and enjoy too. There’s nothing that irritates me more than people wandering mindlessly about, noses in phones, not realising they are holding up a huge crowd behind them or missing out on something their friend is saying to them.

But, sometimes when inspiration strikes, you need to take advantage of a 40 minute bus ride and get those words onto paper (or into a phone, whatever is handy).

Next time you find yourself confused or irritated at someone with a camera who looks like they’re trying to capture ‘just another shot for Instagram’, have a little faith that maybe they are not just another selfie-obsessed tourist; maybe, just maybe, they’re on a mission to inspire, educate and inform, like we are.

Or perhaps they’re chasing a dog, as we do too (caught this little guy on camera this afternoon). But that story for another time.

What do you think about this and how do you practice mindfulness on the road? Would love to know, drop me a line in the comments.

via GIPHY

Technology and learning – future travel trends

Guest contributor Dan Whitehouse explores how technology is impacting on learning for travellers, and looks at what might happen in the future…

Technology is having a significant impact on how travellers learn about the places we are visiting.

In the past, we were quite reliant on tour guides to learn about the history and significance of the places being visited. Now, travellers can get all this information on a mobile phone right over the internet. Not only that, technology allows travellers to get accurate street directions in the new places they are planning to visit.

This is surely a step up from when we had to stop at the local gas station and ask the clerk behind the counter for directions. Often times, the clerk didn’t speak English and a weary traveller would become lost and annoyed. Technology has added convenience to our experience because we can find any location on a mobile phone and even discover new locations in the area we’re visiting.

Twenty years ago, nobody could have predicted the kind of learning tools that travellers have today.

It is hard to imagine what technological innovations there will be in the future to help travellers learn even more than they do right now.

One possibility is that we will be able to travel and learn about various places in the world without even leaving our homes.

Imagine a virtual reality program where people can actually purchase tickets to go on a tour through a virtual simulation of a real-life location. People who haven’t got the budget or mobility to travel to exotic locations will no longer have to miss out. If they can get their hands on a virtual reality headset, they’ll be able to travel anywhere in the world without having to worry about airports, hotels and car rental.

At the same time, anyone can learn about a foreign location too, with more access than just being ‘broadcast’ to via a book or other media. 

As for those who will still travel for real, holographic tour guides will likely replace human tour guides.

One of the biggest inconveniences with tour guides now is they are always booked and people have to schedule a tour weeks in advance.

But with the holographic tours of the future, a 3D computer-generated tour guide will be able to show you all the sights and explain them to you the way a human tour guide would.  

This will be set up through a series of holographic devices that are placed in different areas of a tour, and some areas of the world are experimenting with this tech now!

Guests can walk to different rooms or locations and see the holographic tour guide appear.

Of course, this might make it harder for human tour guides to get a job, but by then hopefully there’ll be other options that our brains are better equipped for, and we’re probably also better at conversation (at least for the time being).

What do you think?

What’s your view or prediction on how travel and learning will be impacted by smarter tech? Let us know in the comments. 

By Dan Whitehouse

Dan’s writing from Into Forward, a technology and future-trend predictions blog. Into Forward uses a special blend of machine learning and search data for all their trend predictions. The site shares details on ‘the next biggest thing’ in technology, the markets, green tech and more.

 

Travel and terrorism

Earlier this week an awful event took place in central London which has had me fielding queries and concerns about travel and terrorism and indeed about how safe our lovely London actually is.

You would have caught the news about a man who drove a car onto Westminster bridge and into a crowd of 50 people before stabbing others outside Parliament. He killed four people, including a police officer, and seriously injured numerous others.

As someone living and working in the city, I can attest to the fact that no matter where you are in the vicinity, it is unnerving to know what’s unfolding.

My work’s security team shared advice with staff and let us know that we were welcome to stay inside if fearful of travelling at the end of the work day.

During the afternoon we didn’t know if anything further would occur, and the insensitive, irresponsible Twitter users sharing photos of the dead from the scene in central London were not helping!

A number of my colleagues were also visibly shaken because memories of the 7/7 bombings of 2005 are still all too close-to-home – one of the bombs exploded on the no. 30 bus directly outside our building and with catastophic results.

Over the 24 hours to follow the events in Wesminster, Cooper and I received numerous calls, texts and messages on social media from apprehensive family and friends who were unsure of what to make of it all.

Now none of this is to diminish what has happened (and continues to) in places not too far from us in the UK, including France, Belgium, Tunisia, Syria… unforunately the list goes on.

But when things like this happen on your doorstep, there’s no escaping the truth about the nature of conflict and hate in today’s world.

That said, the next day, life continued.

We were all on the buses, tube and trains in order to show up at work on time. My friend Jackie and I even ran into this young hero from the day before in the lift in our workplace.

‘Keep calm and carry on’ was a slogan developed by the British government back in 1939 as World War II loomed.

The famous phrase was intended to raise morale in those dark days, and has found meaning and international fame in our contemporary landscape too.

Back in 2005 after the transport system – the beating heart of this metropolis – was attacked, people came back outside and stepped onto public transport in record numbers. They went on determined, just as they did after the many devastating air raids during the war.

Londoners will not be held to ransom by crazy people. None of us should be. I’m inspired by this tenacity.

The topic of travel and terrorism is raised in our circles quite a bit. People worry about us being in a city where terrorism a real threat.

But actually, terrible things happen every day, even in sublime and seemingly unsuspecting locations like Queensland, Australia, from where we hail.

It does upset me that the media makes a real meal out of influencing people towards a fear mindset.

Even before any details were available on the Westminster attack this week, the news had labelled it a ‘terrorist act’.

Can you tell me they are not trying to sell papers and seek ratings by inciting fear across the globe?

I’m seeing the same on this very day about a cyclone striking the eastern coast of Queensland and am trying not to worry too much myself, but it’s hard not to when the images, language and stories being shared are drumming up worst-case scenarios.

As for travelling here to Europe?

London is one of the safest places we’ve travelled to. We feel entirely safe living here, walking around and getting about.

Sure, there’s the risk of terrorism but that’s everywhere these days, especially with misguided individuals taking it upon themselves to wreak havoc on behalf of organisations they’ve often only seen represented online or in the news.

My point is, don’t let a disillusioned few stop you from being curious and getting out there to travel and explore.

Be mindful, sensible and don’t take unnecesssary risks, certainly. But whatever you do, do not choose to stay at home if adventure beckons. That’s letting the bastards win.

Responding and contributing to fear energy only magnifies it around the world.

I’ve read helpful advice on this that encourages us to acknowledge what’s gone on, reflect or meditate on it in our own way and send kind thoughts to those who have been affected.

You can do something positive to counteract the fear by showing up to your own life with determination and light, and inspiring your family, friends, kids and colleagues with that spirit.

Let’s not feed the beast.

And if you’re finding news or social media reports too much or too upsetting – turn them off! There’s never any urgent new updates you need; the reports are merely the same dire tales told in different ways.

Caring makes you human. Focusing on traumatic media stories though, only breeds fear and certainly does not help anyone.

Keep calm, carry on… and travel, I say.

If more of us appreciate first-hand the world and its many different perspectives we might eventually conquer the small-mindedness that leads to ignorant and evil deeds.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.