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7 Zen Productivity Tips For Travelers

by Christine DeSadeleer Apr 15, 2009
The fine art of being a good traveler can sometimes use a little guidance.

We all need a little help reframing a situation once in a while.

Coming across Jonathan Mead’s article Seven Productivity Tips For People That Hate GTD (Getting Things Done) over at did this for me on a day where it felt like nothing I started was getting done.

His reminders include “Define Your Daily Ass-Kicking” – as in having a larger vision or goal that you are working toward and defining your reason for having this goal.

Also, he notes, “Allow Yourself To Suck,” which I always think is a good thing, ’cause man, does it take the pressure off and actually allow you to create.

I started to ponder how these great tips could be geared toward traveling. If they work in our work life, can’t they work in our travel life? Plus, as most of you know, traveling can sometimes become like a job anyway.

Here’s what I came up with based of off Mead’s seven tips:

1. Create a “to stop” list.

Mead says:

If you’re not getting the results you want, chances are you don’t care much about the things you’re doing. The best way to change this is to create a “To-Stop” list.

How many times have we set our agenda in stone either before we’ve even boarded the plane, or scour the Lonely Planet in our tent the night before a big day out, so that we will cover all the “important” spots during our trip?

Don’t get me wrong, planning is a great thing in order to have a point of reference in an unknown area, but if you aren’t enjoying those “must-see” places, cut out. It’s not worth wasting your time, money, or energy.

2. Focus on short bursts.

You’ve only got a weekend to spend in Florence.

You want to be able to visit the Duomo, the Uffizi, Accademia, Ponte Vecchio, Bobili Gardens, get at least 6 servings of stratiacella gelato and 4 pieces of tiramusa, buy a leather coat, drink at a hidden-away bar until 2am and then head to the club, and take a day trip to San Gimignano.


Plus, would you have any fun if you did all of that? Give your full attention to the museum that you are currently bustling through to make it to the next museum, and then give your full attention to a bottle of Chianti, looking at the city from above at Piazzale Michelangelo.

3. Define your daily “ass-kicking.”

What is the overall purpose of your travel escapades? To have fun? To learn about a new culture/s? To get the hell away from your family or friends, or as was the case during the Bush presidency, your government?

Whatever your personal purpose is for exploring unknown territory, remind yourself of it every day. It’ll get you through hassling with border officials, peeing on the floor of the woman’s bathroom next to the prostitutes, and being stuck for a week in Tasmania with the meanest Aussie tour guide EVER.

4. Allow yourself to suck.

Yes, my favorite recommendation.

Each of us sucks sometimes. Everyone we travel with sucks sometimes.

This tip can be used two-fold: allow yourself to suck in the way that you to try every single thing you are moderately inclined, but deathly afraid, to do, even if you think you might fail miserably at it, and allow yourself to suck occasionally as a friend, mate, or travel companion.

You will anyway, so why fight it? It’ll only last longer that way.

5. Focus on the three C’s.

Mead’s three C’s are Create, Connect, and Consume. The key is to balance these three actions, and what better time than when we are traveling?

We have to create a way to get where we want to go, connect with the people of the place once we get there, and consume/purchase local foods and goods.

Consciously choosing where your money goes (will it benefit the people directly or a corporate/government entity?) from start to finish of a trip can help with this balancing act.

6. Stop caring about things that don’t matter.

That annoying habit of your travel buddy where he makes you ask all the questions no matter what country you are in, but then laughs at you when the locals don’t understand? Waiting for three hours in the bed of a pickup truck while six locals stare at a tire and debate the easiest way to fix the hole that was just “fixed” 10 km ago?

Not worth the energy of irritation.

And if it is, say something kindly to the person so you can get it off your chest and move on.

7. Make it stupidly simple.

Mead states, “If you’re struggling to make headway on the stuff you really care about, maybe you’re making it too complicated.” If you are struggling to get somewhere faster, get a better deal, not get taken advantage of, maybe you are making it too complicated.

Sit back, look at the situation from a different perspective, and then move forward.

Don’t miss: 5 Steps To Save Money Like The Buddha

What are some other tips on how to be a good traveler through a Zen approach? Share your thoughts below.

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