With the holiday season already upon us, most people are taking some focus away from work and putting it towards family, friends and celebrating what they’ve accomplished for the year. With many businesses closed for a week over the christmas and new year period, it’s also the perfect opportunity to go on a trip. If you do have the opportunity to travel this holiday season, have you considered planning a more meaningful trip?

A meaningful trip involves adding in quality activities and habits that cultivate personal growth, awareness and greater life fulfillment. It also allows you to return refreshed, clear and ready to make 2015 your best year yet! A meaningful trip is not just about escape or relaxation, it’s also an opportunity to learn new skills you can incorporate into your daily life to create more balance and fulfillment.

Here are four ways you can add more meaning to your next trip away whether it’s this holiday season or further down the road:

1. Set your intention

Assess your current priorities, energy levels and work out what is important to you, then plan your trip accordingly. Have you been slogging it out at work all year and are now craving a trip to recharge your batteries? Try a more quiet retreat in nature with access to fresh food. Have you been too preoccupied with other activities and need to dedicate some quality time to your family or partner? Try a beach holiday, giving you plenty of time together to connect and relax. Are you full of energy and inspiration and want to go on mini-adventure? Try going on a hiking or biking adventure a few hours drive away.

Planning your next trip based on how you currently feel will bring about greater rewards versus planning a trip you feel pressured or influenced to go on. My advice is go within then plan accordingly.

2. Add in a dash of self-care

It’s common for many trips to be planned from a place of escapism (from the stresses of work and daily life) which often results in overconsumption – of food, alcohol, activities and not enough sleep. These unhealthy habits can also creep into trips planned with the intention of adventure and discovering other cultures.

Why not switch your thinking a little and look as a trip as an opportunity to set a foundation for new habits. My friend said to me recently – this is the year of self-care. Begin your year of self-care with your next meangingful trip and carry it on when you return. Eat nourishing food, get enough sleep, exercise and do all the things that make you feel good. Research and make a list of healthy restaurants and grocery stores at your destination, book accommodation with a kitchen so you can prepare your own healthy food, and choose water or herbal tea over sugary and caffeinated alternatives.

Focusing on self-care while you have the time can build positive habits for your daily life. You will also return from your trip feeling refreshed and clear versus the common burned out feeling following trips of over consumption of things that are not good for your health.

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Vegan friendly Maui

3. Get moving

Move your body more on your trip to improve your fitness and build strength. Get out in nature to discover new terrain and make the most of your free time by walking or biking around instead of driving or taking transit. Discover new cities and towns via walking tours or bike tours. Plan fewer activities in the day so you have longer to get from place-to-place by physical activity. If your day is already packed full of activities then get up early and go for a run, find a yoga class or choose a location where you go on pretty nature hikes.

Taking the time to discover new destinations by foot or bike creates much richer experiences than you get by rushing through places on motorized transport. Walking, running or biking through new destinations also allows you focus more on being in the moment, therefore creating a more relaxed state of mind.

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Hiking in Peru

4. Give back

Volunteering while traveling is an amazing way to enrich both your life and the lives of others in the local communities you visit. If you are good with your hands consider helping build a house; if you love children, spend a few hours in an orphanage visiting the kids; if animals are more your passion see how you can help out in a local shelter or animal conservation. If you have good business skills consider helping out local business owners you meet with advice or a few hours of free work.

Research online for volunteer opportunities of your destination before you go or ask what you can do to help once you arrive. Donating even a few hours of your time to a cause you care about can make a huge difference.

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