I recently returned from yet another trip I would class as one of the most amazing experiences of my life. This meaningful road trip across the South West U.S to attend a Kundalini yoga festival, has left me feeling inspired, refreshed and on my path. During my journey, I enjoyed nature, stayed present, faced and overcame some personal challenges, and built strong connections with new people.

So what makes a trip more meaningful versus just picking a place to go on holiday and relax? A meaningful journey is intentional and focuses on growth and gaining deeper fulfillment, rather than going somewhere to escape from the stresses of life. By tailoring your travel journey to include self-discovery, self care, the empowerment others, and giving back, you will return from your trip with more clarity, energy and fulfillment.

Meaningful travel can include experiences such as volunteering in order to give back and be of service; attending a yoga retreat to rejuvenate and develop your spiritual practice; or embarking on a two-week trek in the mountains to gain physical fitness and connect with nature.

Here are five ways to plan a more meaningful trip that will leave you feeling refreshed, balanced and more fulfilled.

1. Explore your purpose

Your purpose is what gives your life meaning and ideally needs to be your main guiding system in life. Following or exploring your life purpose on your next journey can expand your level of joy and fulfillment to a point you never thought possible. If you are unsure of your life purpose, start by working out what activities make you feel the most fulfilled doing and what your unique gifts are. Meditation, yoga, and nature inspired trips are good ways to explore your purpose. If you already know your purpose then activities based around further study, volunteering and rejuvenating can be beneficial. For example if equal rights to education is a driving principle in your life, then volunteering with a charity dedicated to giving children of all economic backgrounds access to education, may be a good fit.

2. Set your intention

Work out what you want to gain from this next trip. Is your intention to de-stress after a busy six months, give back to others, or embark on an adventurous activity you’ve dreamt of doing your whole life? Perhaps there are a few experiences, skills or points of growth you want to achieve from this trip. Working this out first allows you to fine-tune where to go and what to do. Taking the time to be intentional leads to greater fulfillment that may have otherwise been missed when traveling with no well thought-out plan.

3. Add in meaningful activities

Once you’ve determined the intention and purpose of your trip, add in some meaningful activities such as cycling to get fit, volunteering at an orphanage for a day to give back, or a few days of yoga at the end of your trip to gain some clarity. Even a trip focused on discovering a new city or town can be packed full of activities that add more fulfillment to both your life and the lives of others. Throwing in some healthy lifestyle habits such as eating healthy and reducing alcohol consumption while away, allows you to return from your trip feeling more light and fresh.

Cycling while visiting San Francisco

Hiking and meditating in Sedona’s vortexes

4. Have fun researching

Once you’ve established what you want to achieve on your next trip and what type of journey you want to have, get researching. Be creative in exploring different options. Speak with well-traveled friends and find websites and online platforms dedicated to the topic or cause of your next trip. Be open to network and build relationships online before your journey begins. Trust your intuition and allow yourself to be guided.

5. Get creative

Think outside the box and get creative with ways you can pursue your next journey. Don’t let fear or perceived limitations get in the way such as limited money and vacation time, not having anyone to go with, or fear of the unknown. If you only have one week of paid vacation left, communicate with your boss how this trip will make you more productive when you return. If you are too scared to go alone, book a tour for the beginning of your trip to ease your way into it. If you feel you don’t have enough funds then stop eating out as much and cut your entertainment budget down.