How do you travel? Do you fly by the seat of your pants, or plan out every last moment (here’s looking at … oh, me!)? Perhaps a combination? Ultimately, when you do travel, do you travel intentionally?

Wait … what’s that even mean?

How to travel intentionally may vary from person to person:

  • Checking items off your bucket list
  • Tailoring travel to your personality (i.e. the extrovert – in groups, with friends, or even with strangers, vs. the introvert – by yourself or with a small group of close friends)
  • {fill in the blank here} — Leave a comment with your favorite tip!

My challenge (in a good way!) of late has been to let my faith guide my travel. My Israel trip in 2010 was hands down the best trip of my life (could you tell from the plethora of posts I’ve done?), and I wonder how much of that has to do with the trip being faith based. Suddenly, the Bible stories I’d read for years leapt off the page and into reality:

  • The pool of Bethesda where a man was healed (John 5)
  • The Garden of Gethsemane (throughout the Gospels)
  • Gideon’s Spring (Judges 7)
  • Ein Gedi (Joshua 15, 1 Samuel 24, 2 Chronicles 20, Song of Solomon 1)

… and more!

I highly recommend any Christian visit Israel at least once in their lifetime. I’m certainly counting down to my second visit, whenever that may be; it’s not on the books right now, but I know it will be amazing. (Side note: the Scots Hotel is the Best. Hotel. Ever.)

But if Israel isn’t in the cards for you for whatever reason … you can still travel intentionally and faith-based elsewhere. Read on for some of my tips, and leave a comment with your input and suggestions!

How to Travel Intentionally

Before the trip:

  • Determine your why.

Travel intentionally: Determine your why.

Why are you going to England, Turkey, Vladivostok? It may start as simply as There was a travel deal, but “just because Groupon saved you $200” isn’t enough. What made you click the “Complete purchase” button, when all is said and done?

  • Find out your destination’s history.

Target your research based on your why (above). Interested in food? Maybe a local archaeological site plays home to the world’s oldest recorded noodle. (It’s 4,000 years, by the way.) Interested in history? Maybe King John signed the Magna Carta nearby. Interested in the expansion of Christendom post-diaspora? Maybe St. Andrew landed at the local port while en route to Scotland on a missionary journey of sorts. (Paul wasn’t the only one who did missionary journeys!)

  • Start a travel journal.

Travel intentionally: Start a travel journal.

Note what you’re excited about or most looking forward to. Revisit this throughout your preparation and the trip itself, and make sure you’re on point to hit each target. There’s nothing like coming home without having done half of what you anticipated – unless there’s a good reason.

Speaking of good reasons …

  • Do your research — in advance.

Travel intentionally: Do your research.

Make sure those “good reasons” aren’t due to lack of planning. Making reservations in advance could save you 2 hours of lines, in the rain, at the Anne Frank House or Florence’s Uffizi.

Additionally, check out traveling museum exhibits. When my dad and I visited Edinburgh in 2005, we discovered that the National Museum of Scotland was to play host to “The Last Tsar and Tsarina”. (Side note: It should be transliterated “Tsaritsa”, not “Tsarina”. But I digress.) This discovery suddenly made a visit to the museum absolutely mandatory for me — I was and am fascinated by all things Russian, and loved verifying that side note above.

During the Trip:

  • Attend services at a local church.

The services may look and feel different from home — but you’re not going on a trip to feel exactly like you do at home. (Or maybe you do. That could be your “why”. But I hope it’s not.)

When I was in Chile, I attended a church service entirely in Spanish. And one of the worship songs turned out to be “God of Wonders”, which is hands down my favorite worship song ever. Knowing the tune by heart meant I could quickly pick up the Spanish words on the screen and sing along. Still one of my most treasured moments from that trip.

If you’re in town on a day other than Sunday, many churches offer Evensong services. Definitely take advantage of these late-afternoon or evening services; get there early so you can perhaps even sit in the quire.

  • Keep up with the journal.

I know your bed is calling you, especially those first few nights as you get over jet lag. But don’t let it call so loudly that you neglect the journal.

Cut yourself a pass here and there, but get back on track the next day. The small details will pass in time, and journaling in the moment and/or same day is critical to keep those memories alive.

After the Trip

  • Journal on the flight home.

… and even for a while after. (Apologies if I’m beating a dead horse here, but I’m passionate about the art of the journal!) Reflect on the trip and close it out in the journal. This will help you process everything you saw, ate, heard, and enjoyed. Not to mention, it will help the time pass on those super-fun long-haul flights home.

  • Upload and label your pictures.

I can promise you that the memories will fade (and the cathedrals will all start to look alike) … take advantage of them early and label all the pictures with the location and anything you recall about them. Maybe even scrapbook them, if you’re of a mind.


What would you add to (or scrap from) the list above? How do you travel intentionally?

Leave a comment below, or share and tag my page on Facebook to get the discussion started.

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