The Art of Travel
Summer in Japan is a time for celebrations, festivals and, of course, travel. Many families spend the season together, visiting relatives in distant cities or taking vacations to forest bathe or tour historic shrines. These travels introduce new, joyful experiences and serve as a reminder that with all things, including work and pleasure, life is about balance.
In the spirit of the season, here are KonMari’s tips for making travel a joy-sparking experience from start to finish — and one that aligns with your ideal lifestyle, or kurashi.
Imagine Your Ideal Trip
Regardless of whether you’re planning a multiple-week trip to Europe, a simple weekend getaway or even a quiet “staycation,” don’t rush the planning process. Before starting on your itinerary, set aside time to simply imagine your ideal travel experience. Ask yourself a few questions like:
- What style of travel do you most enjoy?
- When you imagine a joyful afternoon in an unfamiliar place, what does it look like?
- How do you want to feel? Relaxed or energized? Do you prefer a vacation that prioritizes rest and rejuvenation, one that opens your eyes to new experiences and cultures or both?
If you are planning a trip with your partner or your family, try doing this exercise together. Take turns describing your ideal trip to make space for each person’s ideas. Let your minds wander. Doing so will build excitement and camaraderie for your trip. Later, you can discuss what to prioritize and how much you can accomplish in the time you have.
Embrace the Unplanned
As you start mapping out your itinerary, accept that there will always be too many things to see and do. Rather than feeling tempted to fit as much as possible into the time you have, we recommend that you leave some time for play. The best travel experiences include unexpected moments!
We recommend thinking of your itinerary as more of an outline that includes room for diversion. As a rule of thumb, for every three days of pre-planned activities, leave one day — or at least, one morning or afternoon — open for wandering and exploring. You never know what you’ll discover with no destination in mind.
Pack What Sparks Joy
Give yourself plenty of time to plan your packing list, and only pack what sparks joy! Consider packing a few favorite self-care items, as well. Flights can dry out the skin, so bring a soothing face mask and rich hand lotion with you. If you plan to stay with relatives, pack a robe or soft slippers to feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar home. Once you have your packing list sorted, read our guide to packing a suitcase, so you can give everything a designated place!
Find Joy in the Little Moments
Ideal travel looks different for everyone. You can experience the same joy at a campout in your own backyard as you can on a trip to Europe or Asia. The trick is to savor each experience. Try leaving your phone in your purse — or even your hotel room — for a few hours. Do nothing for a few minutes but watch your children play at the beach. At dinner each night, encourage your travel companions to share their favorite part of the day. It can also help to keep a travel journal during your trip, so you can process the day’s experiences before going to bed.
Think Before You Acquire
When traveling, souvenir stands and shops seem to pop up everywhere. But before acquiring more items to add to your komono at home, ask yourself whether they will spark joy for years to come! If not, leave them behind. If you’re planning to bring gifts home to loved ones, follow this guide to choosing gifts that spark joy.
Make Time for Gratitude
Before beginning her day, Marie has a dedicated morning routine, which includes setting intentions for the day. You can use a similar format for each morning of your trip to start each day off right. Before heading out into the world, set aside a quiet moment to breathe deeply and give thanks for the previous day’s experiences. Then, reconnect with your why: Why did you plan this trip in the first place? What do you hope to get out of today’s itinerary? This brief pause will bring fresh energy to each day of your travels — and remind you that joy is an endlessly renewable resource.