How to Be a Mindful Traveler: 12 Reasons Why Slow Travel Helps You to Be More Present

Here at Extraordinary Journeys, we want to encourage slow, mindful, more present travel. In an age of instant gratification, two-day shipping, unlimited access, and immediacy in just about everything we do, we invite you to take things down a notch.

If you’re tempted to cram too much into your travel itineraries, to check things off your bucket list, or to get that perfect Instagram shot, we understand! But we invite you to let us work with you to discover a more grounded, present way to experience the world beyond your front door. Here are 12 fantastic reasons to get excited about a less-is-more approach to your next adventure.

deck-level photo from a traditional dhow sailboat in waters off the coast of Kenya features sunset and another dhow
Relaxing in Lamu with a ride in a traditional dhow, just enjoying the moment © Extraordinary Journeys

1. Ditch the WiFi—Be In the Here and Now

Much of what we read in the news or see on social media is upsetting. A total break from all news—even family updates—may traditionally be the most stress-reducing aspect of a safari. Even posting photos to Instagram can wait.

It is so centering to just concentrate on learning more about where you are and what you are seeing. Home will be there soon enough. And if you can truly unplug while on safari, you will be amazed at how relaxed you feel when you do get home.

“Cuba was fascinating because I never could connect to WiFi except in the big western hotels, and I felt so engaged. It was the first time I could truly let go, and I loved it!”

— Elizabeth Gordon, Extraordinary Journeys Co-Founder & CEO

woman sitting in a canoe photographing an elephant wading through the water
Moments like these are all around you if you’re present to enjoy them © Extraordinary Journeys

2. Reconnect with Loved Ones

A safari is the ideal opportunity to enjoy some quality time with your friends and family, apart from the noise (digital and otherwise) of day-to-day life at home.

“There is something magical about just being in the moment, turning off your phone. This was our childhood, and I am actually quite sad we now are connected 24/7. Read a book, cook, and talk. There’s no greater way to be with your family!”

— Elizabeth Gordon, Extraordinary Journeys Co-Founder & CEO

And you won’t have to worry about friends and family at home! If there is no wifi in camp, you’re not completely cut off from the outside world. If someone needs to reach you in case of an emergency, camps without WiFi usually have satellite telephones.

4 travelers and a guide sit in a rock pool at the edge of a waterfall, framed by a rainbow and smiling with arms raised
One of our families sharing a great moment in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls © Clapp family

3. Appreciate Your Smaller Footprint

At Extraordinary Journeys, we’re deeply invested in supporting and honoring local communities, promoting conservation and environmental stewardship, and generally leaving a place and its people better than we found it.

You can read more about our commitment to Conservation and Community here.

One of the joys of an EJ safari is the knowledge that you can have a wonderful travel experience without doing harm to your destination. The properties you stay at are thoughtfully and sustainably built, using local and natural materials as often as possible.

For a slower, more environmentally-friendly safari, we especially recommend you do less moving around between destinations; your carbon footprint will be smaller, and you’ll spend less time in transit.

thatched luxury safari huts sit tucked against a jungle hillside, illuminated in the darkening evening
Bisate in Rwanda is made with local craftsmanship and materials © Crookes and Hackson

4. Connect With the Guides & Locals

When you have more time in one place, you can really get to know your guide—and they can get to know you! Best of all is having a private guide for your entire safari.

In the Mara and the Samburu, many guides are from the area, so don’t be surprised if yours just invites you home to meet their family!

two young boys on safari stand grinning and wearing backpacks amidst their guides and Maasai friends
Who knows? Your guide might just become a lifelong friend! © Benjamin Amis

Two of our favorite guides in Kenya are Ninian Lowis and Lara Leakey Lowis. Their families have deep ties to Africa. When you go on a private safari with them, you are getting to know Kenya at its core.

the setting sun silhouettes several safari-goers perched atop a game drive vehicle mere feet from a giraffe
An amazing safari with Ninian Lowis and Lara Leakey © Ninian Lowis

5. Learn About Your Fellow Travelers

Two EJ clients, James and Ben, recently returned from a safari to Tanzania, their second. They couldn’t stress enough the value of setting aside distractions to interact with and get to know the other people you’re traveling with.

“You might be on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa. Embrace it as much as you can. Be present and enjoy the engagement with fellow travelers. On our last safari, it was a very international crowd; everybody was from everywhere. Not only did the conversation have to do with present-day Africa and what we did that day, but where else have you been in the world? Where did you go last year? It was so cool to hear what other people were doing. I just can't imagine traveling all that distance and not trying to be as fully present as possible.”

— EJ clients Ben Amis & James Poppell

6. Choose Quality over Quantity

Slow travel means choosing one or two incredible places you'll love instead of trying to hop all over the continent.

Less is more. A couple well-chosen properties, thoughtfully curated activities, and top-notch guides will leave you much happier than trying to see too many places in one go.

You'll lose out on quality if you choose the latter route.

And don’t underestimate the power of being connected with your setting. Whether at a tented camp in Africa or a property with massive windows and jaw-dropping views of Patagonia, waking up to incredible beauty multiple days in a row is a luxury in and of itself.

a boardwalk overlooks jagged snow-capped peaks towering above a lake; the scene is painted pink & purple by the sunset
The setting of Explore Patagonia is so spectacular that you just want to sit and take it all in © Extraordinary Journeys

7. Minimize Time In Transit

Sadly, time spent in airports is NOT time well spent. We try to keep transfer times to the minimum, so you can make the most of your time on the ground, in the community, and relishing the beauty around you.

We know your time is precious to you, so we make every effort to ensure it is rewarding, memorable, and well spent.

8. Trade Distraction for Maximum Memory-Making

Setting aside distractions for memory-making opportunities is unbelievably rewarding.

This approach leaves you available to enjoy your fellow travelers and feel at home (even for a few days) in an incredible new place. You utilize all your senses, distraction-free, to fully take in the experience.

You're not short-changing yourself by posting to Instagram or settling for a surface-level experience of a place.

Your memories will be broad and deep and rich because you gave your mind and spirit the space to create them.

Sure, you could trek all around camp trying to find that little bubble of cell service to post to Instagram. But we recommend you don’t. The petty distractions of the “real world” can wait.

“When there is WiFi access, sometimes it’s better not to even try connecting because it’s so spotty. You end up spending more time trying to get online than enjoying your time. Another horrible situation is getting a panicky work email and not being able to answer because the internet doesn't work well. I prefer disconnecting entirely.”

— Elizabeth Gordon, Extraordinary Journeys Co-Founder & CEO

9. Savor an Unforgettable Experience

We have good news for you: there’s no rush on safari.

Whether gorilla trekking through the mountains, enjoying a walking safari, visiting orphan elephants, or getting to know a local community, things move at a slower pace on safari. You’ll have ample opportunities to do nothing but take in the scenery and wildlife, with nothing calling you back to “reality.”

Revel in your unforgettable surroundings, whether perched above the Cloud Forest or falling asleep in a fly tent under a blanket of stars. Soak in the tranquility of remote, unspoiled places like the Selous or North Luangwa.

Savor the quiet. The open spaces. The room to think about anything or nothing. This is travel on your terms. Enjoy it!

hiker in a red coat and daypack treks along the rock wall of a village high in the craggy Atlas mountains
Walking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco © Extraordinary Journeys

10. Begin to Understand a Place

It takes a few days to really settle into a destination. Staying put a bit longer than your rambling feet would like absolutely pays off.

Wander through a historic city center, go on day and night game drives, go for a hike or a bike ride, share a meal with your guides, or visit a museum.

While visiting Peru, EJ Co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Gordon toured Lima’s Callao Monumental, an art project with a mission to revive a neighborhood in distress. Her guide grew up in the area and shared with her his experience of the change in the area.

in a colorful town square with murals and brightly-painted buildings, a woman chats with her guide, her elbow propped upon his shoulder
Elizabeth hanging out with her guide at Callao Monumental in Lima © Extraordinary Journeys

No matter your destination, the more conversations you have with the locals and staff, the more authentic your impression of the place will be.

11. Say “Yes” & Be Spontaneous

Get outside your comfort zone! Try things you normally might say no to. Nighttime game drives? Sure thing! Fly camping? Why not!

Enjoy setting the pace and building your day around what feels right to you, not what’s “scheduled.”

Take a shot at the things that might scare you (just a little), but also know that it’s okay to “say yes” to something completely low-key, too.

After all, there is a certain luxury in NOT going on a game drive, sitting by the pool with a good book instead. Or noticing the birds, the monkeys in the trees, and maybe an impala wandering by.

Sometimes, the moments of peace and solitude, in tune with nature, are the perfect antidote to the excitement of a kill witnessed earlier in the day on a game drive.

a man and a woman run down an expansive sand dune, kicking up sand behind them, with rolling dunes and hillsides in the distance
Running down the dunes in the Suguta Valley in Kenya © Extraordinary Journeys

12. Laugh and be positive!

Energy is contagious, and the people around you will pick up on your mood, even on “vacation.” Having a sense of humor is essential to remaining present and making the most of your safari.

If you are worried about everything going wrong, you’re short-changing yourself. Sure, every detail may not go exactly to plan, but that’s half the fun of the adventure.

Maybe the car will get stuck, and you’ll have to get out and push—and get a bit messy. Just don’t take yourself too seriously. We give you permission to laugh at the situation!

Your attitude is a choice. Choose positivity, and we promise the joy will follow!

in a canoe, a woman in a magenta tee and khaki cap grins, her guide standing behind her, a lemur perched across her shoulders
EJ Safari Specialist Jenny Salentine making friends with a lemur (whether she likes it or not!) © Extraordinary Journeys

One More Reminder...

Being mindful and present on safari is easier than you might think. Here are 12 reasons why we love a slow-travel approach to safaris:

  1. Ditch the WiFi—be in there here and now
  2. Reconnect with loved ones
  3. Appreciate your smaller footprint
  4. Connect with the guides and locals
  5. Learn about your fellow travelers
  6. Choose quality over quantity
  7. Minimize time in transit
  8. Trade distraction for maximum memory-making
  9. Savor an unforgettable experiences
  10. Begin to understand a place
  11. Say “yes” and be spontaneous
  12. Laugh and be positive!

Destination Inspiration

Here are a few of our favorite destinations for enjoying a slower, more present travel experience:

If a slow-travel, mindful safari adventure appeals to your desire to be more present, here is some inspiration for your next trip:

Plan Your More-Present Safari Today!

Ready to start planning your own incredible mindful safari adventure? We make the process stress-free and enjoyable. Call or email us today to explore your best options for a safari holiday you’ll never forget!

Then, start packing that suitcase because we’ve got all the details covered.

CONNECT with your personal travel expert.

Have you started planning your safari on your own? Are you totally overwhelmed with all the information out there? Let us help you cut through all the conflicting information online and start planning a safari that is completely tailored to you. Get in touch with us and we can discuss your travel passions and help you begin the planning process for your dream safari.

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Kim Green