How to Experience Happiness on the Way Through Travel

When was the last time you felt excited knowing something new was coming? Like a kid on Christmas Eve, eagerly waiting for the morning to arrive.

This is how I feel whenever I go through airport immigration, walk to my seat on a plane, give directions to a Tuk-Tuk driver, or go on a hike to a new destination.

We all have our own paths, and yet we all seek the same thing — happiness. We define it in many ways – success, fame, wealth, relationships, or freedom.

I used to relentlessly chase most of these until travel helped me discover a deep sense of joy in a natural, experiential way. This is why I created my travel blog, Happiness On The Way.

Happiness On The Way is an invitation to wander the beauty of every destination and simultaneously notice how it impacts us on a deeper level. It’s a collection of travel guides around the world, inspiring stories, and insights on how to experience bliss on every trip.

Related: 75+ Best Slow Travel Quotes To Inspire You

Why Travel is a Way to Happiness

It was ten years ago when I took my first flight. My university sponsored my student exchange program in Hong Kong. I was so excited.

I can’t remember how many times I looked into my ticket and repacked my luggage for my flight, checking that I had everything I needed, or, honestly, the mere packing made me feel happy.

I never stopped traveling since then. A weekend hiking trip in the Philippines became a month-long backpacking in South America. However, at the time, I thought travel was a way to escape from life.

It’s a reward after the torture of busyness, stress, and burnout. For a weekend, for a month — I could be free, relax, and just be.

One day while traveling in Manila, I noticed how the leaves of trees danced with the wind, the emotions on people’s faces, and the little kids focused on their games in city streets…

I know it sounds voodoo. But from that moment, travel became a spiritual journey for me. It taught me to be present in the moment, appreciate the small things in life, and be in awe of this universe we live in.

Though travel is a way to happiness, ultimately, I realized that happiness is the way in travel, in life, and in everything.

There is no way to happiness – happiness is the way.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Curious how you can experience more joy on your trips? Here are some ways to find happiness on the way:

1. Find Joy in the Journey, Not the Destination

We constantly strive to get somewhere. We have been sold into this idea since we were little. We should have dreams and go for them.

There’s nothing wrong with it. This “persistence” led us to be successful in some areas of our lives.

Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else — the next place, the next job, even with the next partner — it will never be where you are.

But I only feel happy when I finally reach something I wanted!” We think that when we reach a destination or achieve a specific goal we become happy. But what is happening is for a brief moment, we feel contented because we stop wanting to be somewhere else.

After spending many years traveling, my most unforgettable moments happened during the trip. The long bus rides with beautiful landscapes, talking to local vendors, and walking in the beautiful countryside.

Slow travel is one of the ways to experience happiness on the way

Life isn’t about reaching perfect harmony and contentment (for many of us mortals at least) —it’s about the balance of growing through different experiences and discovering happiness on the way. We have a better chance of appreciating where we are when we stop trying to get elsewhere.

2. Be in Awe while Traveling and Bring it Back Home

Have you ever experienced strong emotions while observing breathtaking scenery, such as a sunset, a vast horizon, or a UNESCO site, and felt a deep sense of connection to the universe?

Perhaps you even found yourself teary-eyed, overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it all. This powerful emotional response is known as awe.

Awe can enhance our happiness. Often triggered by encounters with nature, awe is the profound emotion we feel when we encounter something we perceive as perfect.

As someone who has traveled for years, I consider myself an “awe junkie”. I actively seek out opportunities to witness ancient wonders like Machu Picchu, explore off-the-beaten-path destinations such as remote villages in Sri Lanka, or simply hike amidst the majestic Swiss Alps. Experiencing awe is one of how I find happiness on the way.

Being in awe helps us to experience happiness on the way

What is truly remarkable is that we can also be found in our everyday lives. We have the power to cultivate it and experience it multiple times a week.

It requires us to slow down, pause, and let go of our constant pursuit of goals or the need to categorize everything. When we travel, we often slow down naturally, which allows us to encounter more awe-inspiring moments. It takes practice to cultivate that same sense of awe into our daily routines — but it’s worth it.

3. Appreciate the Little Things

When we travel, the feeling of being in a different place has the power to open our eyes and hearts. Whether you’re in a remote village in Sri Lanka or walking in a beautiful city in Switzerland, travel gives us moments to stop, look around, and appreciate the little things.

It reminds me of this quote from Ram Dass. We are happy while we are traveling because we allow things as they are. We appreciate longer walks, we are amazed by the old towns and we are excited about riding a local old train full of sweaty workers we would normally avoid in our everyday life.

Ram Dass Quote When You Go Out into the Woods and you look at trees - Happiness on the Way Quote .png
Ram Dass’ Quote about Looking at the Trees, and Allowing Them as They Are

The more you allow a destination to be itself, the happier your experience will be. See cities for what they are — fast-paced, convenient, and modern. Appreciate the tall skyscrapers and the five-star accommodations and unique adventures you can do.

Then, allow the countryside to be slow, laidback, peaceful, and quiet. Listen to the birds, feel the wind, and have meaningful conversations with your neighbors.

See how much change this will do to your travels. You’ll be more patient, kinder, and ultimately, happier. Then, extend this practice to every person you encounter, especially those closest to you. Allow and celebrate them for who they are not for how they fit in what you want.

Being in a Forest in Germany
Nature teaches happiness on the way

4. Allow Yourself to Just Be

Similarly, traveling allows us the opportunity to be who we truly are. There is something incredibly liberating about being in new surroundings, where nobody knows us, and nobody can judge us.

We can just be ourselves completely without worrying about anyone else’s opinion of who we are. We can explore our beliefs, values, and passions without feeling judged or embarrassed. Nature gives us the power to relax, restore our senses, and make time for ourselves in ways that may not have been available in our everyday lives.

Travel reminds us of who we originally were before our lives became so filled with obligations and responsibilities. Before all the “shoulds” that we put in ourselves. We learn to appreciate what’s important in life when we take a step back from our daily routine and discover what makes us happy in the process.

Allow yourselves to be unapologetically you

Being able to explore our innermost thoughts while away from home can help open doors of understanding within ourselves that may have been closed before. So whether you are planning a trip or just looking for a way to reconnect with yourself, don’t forget to be in your authentic self. It is one of the best ways to experience happiness on the way.

5. Be in the Present Moment

Being fully present in the moment is one of the greatest gifts that travel offers us. When we visit new places, our senses are awakened by unfamiliar landscapes, tastes, smells, and sounds which draw us into the present experience.

We experience it more in nature. When we’re crossing a rushing river or gazing at a colorful sunset, our minds are not occupied by thoughts of the past or future. We are lost in the moment. Nothing seems more important. We are absorbed in the moment. Everything else can wait.

Travel frees us from the regrets of the past and the worries about the future. With our to-do list on pause, we give ourselves a rest from striving and doing. We allow ourselves to just be. This provides relief to those who often live too much in their heads.

You don’t have to learn how to be present in a new place — it automatically happens. Navigating and ordering food in a new country demands a focus on the here and now. Travel invites us to be fully alive at the moment and immerse ourselves in happiness on the way.

6. Connect With New People

When I set off on a trip, connecting with strangers is one of the things I look forward to. Whether it’s volunteering or meeting locals at a community event, what I find is that the richness of people’s stories and kindness often surpasses the beauty of any physical destination. And I’m not alone—researchers from Harvard have found that connecting with others makes us happier.

Volunteering is one great way to connect with—and help—local people. It could be teaching English, helping out in an animal sanctuary, or helping at a local homeless shelter.

It might seem daunting at first, but volunteering provides the invaluable opportunity to share stories with people whom you wouldn’t normally meet in your everyday life. It allows you to gain meaningful connections and insights into their culture and way of life.

Traveling only for a few days? Explore local markets and interact with shop owners. This will teach you more about their culture and give you insider tips on your destination! You’ll treasure the joy in these small moments of connection with other souls as you go on your journey.

7. Find Your (New) Passions (Again)

Traveling goes beyond simply visiting a destination and crossing it off your list. It can serve as a profound gateway to discovering your true passions.

Whether it’s embarking on a challenging hike, savoring local delicacies at a food market, or immersing yourself in the traditions of a traditional festival, travel opens doors to new experiences and reminds you of the endless possibilities that exist.

Travel exposes you to diverse cultures, viewpoints, architecture, and ways of life. It encourages you to question the status quo and broaden your horizons. By traveling, you open yourself up to a wealth of new ideas and activities that have the potential to ignite passion within you.

I found my passion for spirituality, meditation, and studying happiness in my travels. It was through connecting the dots that I discovered my true happiness on the way.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Steve Jobs
Meditating - Happiness on the Way
Finding happiness on the way by taking some pause while traveling

Travel has also the ability to remind you of your place in the world (in a good way). In your day-to-day life, it’s easy to become consumed by the belief that everything revolves around you.

However, encountering awe-inspiring wonders like Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat serves as a humbling reminder of the insignificance of your everyday worries in the grand scheme of things. This shift in perspective allows you to reevaluate what truly matters.

Travel Reminds Us That Happiness Is on the Way

Travel is an important part of my life. I believe that it is a powerful tool to help us rediscover happiness. I say “rediscover” because I believe that happiness is our innate nature. We somehow learned to be unhappy by what psychologists call the “if, then” trap which states that “if this happens then I will be happy”.

Whenever I travel, I am reminded that happiness isn’t necessarily found in the destination but rather is on its way. Traveling allows us to find fulfillment in the journey instead of solely relying on a perfect destination that we created in our minds.

This idea is one that I’ve come back to time and time again as I travel around the world. Rather than focusing on an endpoint, I look forward to every single moment—from using the local transportation to tasting new foods to walking through ancient cities—and this shift in mindset has allowed me to appreciate life fully.

So, take the chance to wander, explore, and enjoy the journey. May you experience your happiness on the way!

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  1. I absolutely love all of these! Travel is where I find my happiness too. Thanks for some great food for thought ❤️

  2. I love this blog post! Yes I agree that travel is all about living in those moments of travel. Also the looking forward to tomorrow’s new events and planning. My travel blog itself was created to relive those travel moments and I love adding more moments to it.

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