Alternative Zen: Offbeat Ways to Travel Spiritually


Traveling opens a wide variety of doors.  Literal doors of new communities and languages blow open when you hit “confirm” on that plane ticket.  Metaphoric doors of personal growth and development whizz open with each passing day on the road.  Traveling is a ridiculously great opportunity to try on new spiritual practices.  Consider working in some of these offbeat Zen ideas into your trip.

Check out a Rainbow Gathering

What is this you ask?

Rainbow gatherings are enormous collectives of people who come together once or twice a year to form intentional communities rooted in spirit.  The setup is temporary, outdoors, and super-charged with spiritual energy.  Rainbow has been taking place since 1972 and it places value on love, peace, and freedom of expression.  My travel soul-sister is a regular at these and went to both the gatherings in Mexico and Montana in the past 2 years.  She says it has similarities to Burning Man; in that there are many small workshops to attend and a global set of like-minded people to have deep conversations with.

Spirit Festivals Worldwide

Just searching those few words on the web will yield a huge amount of results.  If you are ready to try on new spiritual practices other than your normal regime, head to the closest spirit festival coming up in the area you are traveling.  A great example of this is the Bali Spirit Festival.  BSF just went down in Ubud 2 weeks ago.  You are able to request to work as a volunteer for your time in exchange for a free pass to the whole event.  Spirit festivals include things like: varieties of yoga, world music dancing, healthy food, amazing art, lectures with leaders in spiritual fields, and workshops on things you’ve never heard of like a “constellation healing”.

Wild and random? Absolutely.

Worth opening the metaphoric door? Fo sho.

P.S. The next large festival I personally know of and wish to attend is in Portugal in August.



If animals and gardening are where you find you are most in tune with higher things, why not work on a farm while you travel?  By now the term “WWOOF” is common knowledge and is synonymous with the budget backpacker.  Using the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, you can be placed to work on a farm in a foreign country in exchange for your meals and board.  Even if you look up farming abroad independently, you can still find incredible spots that need help.  Farming and gardening is a wonderful way to reconnect to your Zen for sure!  Till the land, romp in the dirt with the pigs, harvest the chicken eggs, and well…be grateful.


Go on a Walk-About

The concept of a walkabout is from Australian Aboriginals.  The Australian male would take a break from the “grind” of work/obligations and literally go for a walk in solitude through the bush and desert.  Today the concept of taking a walkabout seems to be going mainstream!  The idea of traveling as a whole itself is a walkabout…hell yeah.

Here I have two suggestions for you to try on the walkabout:

  1. Take a mindfulness walk around the country/place you are traveling in.  A mindfulness walk involves slowly using each of your senses separately.  Focus on smell; take in all the amazing smells of where you are. Next hear the sounds bustling around you, and so on.  This is a great way to heighten your awareness and appreciation for the place you are visiting.
  2. Walk the Camino De Santiago.  This is a legit walkabout people from all walks of life are currently participating in.  It is a walk from France to the northwest corner of Spain that pilgrims have done for centuries.  It is a relatively flat trail and there are places to stay along the way.  There are monasteries to visit and church masses to attend inside gorgeous old cathedrals.

What other methods have you used while traveling to grow your Zen?


About Author

Traci is a bold New Yorker who loves taking her empire state of mind global. She holds a degree in International Business, and bleeds humanitarianism. Traci spent a semester in 2007 living in Italy and bouncing around Western Europe. In the past 3 years she volunteered at a homeless shelter in California, worked construction in New Orleans, and moonlights as a bartender everywhere she goes. She recently completed an epic 7 month backpacking trip through Central and South America and spent a month road-tripping the East Coast. Check out her personal blog at Based out of: New Orleans, LA

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