Do These 5 Simple Things to Become a More Mindful Backpacker in 2024

Last Updated on April 27, 2024 by Kylie

2020 proved that time doesn’t stop for anyone, and while we were all itching to revive our passports, the year led me to reflect as a traveler. Four years later I still wonder how can we travel with more intention and mindfulness as backpackers.

That being said, here are 5 simple ways to become a more mindful backpacker in 2024!

1) Don’t rush; travel slow

There is so much world to take in that it’s impossible to have a plan for everything or every situation. Traveling at a slower pace is so much more relaxing and allows you to truly enjoy each moment to its fullest without feeling limited or rushed.

You’ll learn to appreciate every place you visit, soak in each moment, and maybe even cultivate a deeper connection to a city or town. Soon enough, you won’t feel as though you’re just a tourist, but rather a visitor actively learning to see life from another’s point of view. 

mindful travel in Kyoto, Japan

One way I highly recommend traveling slowly is by teaching abroad. You reap the benefits of immersing in a completely new culture while having extensive time to enjoy a country to its fullest.

Check out my in-depth guide on how you can get started teaching abroad.

2) Leave nothing behind but your footprints

As a traveler, you’re ultimately a guest in another person’s home. You wouldn’t leave your friend’s place full of trash, would you? Whether it’s packing bamboo utensils, using reusable bags, or picking up rubbish you find on the beach, each of these compounds into a collective difference.

Consider the land and its resources for those living there. Don’t disrupt the ecosystem by carving your name onto trees, or taking home rocks and shells. Imagine if every visitor thought, “It’s just one shell” – beaches would soon be empty. Be mindful of the environment; don’t contribute to its destruction. Instead, be present, take photos, and support local businesses.

Mindful travel in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

3) Be respectful and embody a mindset of cultural humility

Familiarize yourself with the history and culture before visiting a place, and above all, be respectful. Naturally, you’ll encounter lifestyle differences that feel foreign, but at the end of the day, no way of living is better than another’s.

Don’t demand or expect to have the trip of a lifetime just because you paid X amount of dollars. Be grateful to even have the opportunity to travel overseas.

Check out my post on cultural humility to learn more about reflecting on your cultural lens (how you see the world). Your lifestyle habits aren’t universal, and there is SO much you can learn from others’ upbringings when you adopt a mindful approach.

4) Stay curious; ask questions

Curiosity is the heart and soul of travel. Be open to new experiences and always ask questions, whether it’s about history, backpacking tips, or insight on places to visit. Never stop learning!

Following your curiosity (safely) encourages viewing the world from a more humble perspective. So instead of traveling merely to cross places off of your bucket list, you can approach these new experiences with an open mind. You’ll be surprised at what you discover!

Another tip – join Facebook groups specific to your circumstances, whether it’s solo backpacking in Bangkok, hiking in Bali, or budget traveling in Japan. This tactic is a great way to make connections with other like-minded individuals. If you’re looking for quick, honest answers, these forums help make your travels as seamless as possible.

Mindful travel in Bali

Also, don’t stop asking questions after traveling. Feed your curiosity and reflect on how you’ve changed internally.

  • What cultural differences can you adopt into your own life?
  • Where do a country’s values stem from?
  • What experiences gave you culture shock?

5) Be intentional

No matter where you backpack this year, set your intention behind the real reason you want to visit a place. Do you want to learn more about their culture? Do you want to feel immersed in a new lifestyle? Or do you want to enjoy the tourist attractions?

Whatever the reason is, be intentional with everything you do. Don’t participate in an activity just because everyone else does it – why do YOU want to do it? Travel is all about empowering yourself; you don’t need to satisfy the expectations of anyone else.

Mindful travel in Mui Ne, Vietnam

Wherever 2024 takes you, use these five simple practices to become a more mindful backpacker.



  1. January 16, 2021 / 7:35 am

    Great tips – I think a lot of us have felt that with the disruption to all of our travel plans this year that it has been a good time to reflect and maybe be more thoughtful with our travels and our lives. You summarised it perfectly.

    • January 16, 2021 / 6:56 pm

      Definitely! 2020 was a good year to reflect 🙂

  2. January 16, 2021 / 7:59 am

    These are great tips! I think being a mindful and responsible traveler is such an important thing. This year I’m hoping to implement mindfulness practices into a few areas of my life and travel is one of them! I’m hoping it isn’t too long until we can travel again and I can try out some of these tips. Thanks so much for sharing them!

    • January 16, 2021 / 7:01 pm

      Same here! I’ve got a lot more to learn when it comes to mindfulness all around!

  3. January 16, 2021 / 8:01 am

    I totally agree with all of these! Especially after 2020, I really learned the importance of slow travel and cultural humility. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • January 16, 2021 / 7:02 pm

      Me too! I usually love filling my itineraries so no minute goes unused, but lately I’ve really come to appreciate slow travel!

  4. January 16, 2021 / 8:35 am

    Great article! I agree with everything and especially about respecting local culture which is so vastly different than our own and not expecting everyone to cater to your culture. Great points!

    • January 16, 2021 / 7:02 pm

      Yes!!! That’s SO important to remember!

  5. Charu Goyal
    January 16, 2021 / 9:04 am

    I love all these points, Kylie! Slow travel is such an incredible way to really experience a country- it somehow enables me to actually get a feel of the place instead of just ticking places off a list.

    • January 16, 2021 / 7:04 pm

      Yes! For a while I was a more “tick places off my list” type of person, but over time I’ve come to appreciate fully immersing in new surroundings.

  6. January 16, 2021 / 3:34 pm

    Love love love love these great tips…. I think setting a travel intention will go a long way. Slow travel too! I think some see travel as a competition or a list to cross items off of, and really, what’s the point?! I totally agree that mentality detracts from the real health benefits of traveling.

    • January 16, 2021 / 7:05 pm

      Oh definitely! I’ve been there and quickly learned how that mentality isn’t actually all that fulfilling!

  7. January 16, 2021 / 5:17 pm

    Great tips! I always trip to be respectful to the environment and the people around me I travel, but I guess there is always more to do to become better.

    • January 16, 2021 / 7:05 pm

      There’s always more to learn out there for sure 🙂

  8. January 16, 2021 / 11:24 pm

    Such good reminders. We have also become more mindful travelers over the past few years. It is so important for our planet.

    • January 18, 2021 / 11:17 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that!! I’m sure there’s LOTS we can learn from you guys 🙂

  9. January 17, 2021 / 2:32 am

    Wonderful thoughts here seeing how the pandemic has disrupted all of our lives including travel plans. I love the idea of leaving behind nothing by my footprints 🙂

    • January 18, 2021 / 11:20 pm

      Yup! I’m so happy seeing many people pushing sustainable/eco-friendly travel lately!

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