I’ve teamed up with TUI Sensatori to help you combat holiday blues with sensory travel, and to share my most vivid sensory travel memory.
Have you ever smelt something that instantly transported you back to a holiday? Or tasted some food which immediately reminded you of somewhere else around the world? I know I have. The smell of orange blossom immediately takes me back to the streets of Marrakech and the taste of a fresh, sweet mango always reminds me of my trip to Bali. Without even realising it, you’ve probably got sensory travel memories of your own. It’s amazing how our senses have the power to trigger certain memories in our brain, which is the exact concept behind sensory travel.
A team of Oxford University experts have proven that the amount of time memories stay fresh in your brain depends on how many senses were used at the time. This means that in order to beat the holiday blues and keep your travel memories for longer, you need to awaken all your senses when on holiday. This is based on research lead by experimental psychologist and renowned Oxford University sensory expert Professor Charles Spence.
“When we watch something unfold from behind a lens, we’re not truly living and sensing the experience. Smartphones can prevent us from creating fully-fledged memories as capturing a picture only really engages one of the senses – sight. It’s only by really engaging with our experiences on holiday through all of our senses that we can hope to process all the stimulating information to lay down the sorts of memories that will last, and that will be easier to retrieve.” Professor Charles Spence
What Professor Charles Spence says really resonates with me as when I think back to all of my most vivid travel memories, my smart phone and cameras were away, and I was using multiple senses at one time.
My Most Vivid Travel Memory
In 2015 I visited Bali for the first time and travelled to Sayan, near Ubud. It was here I had the most special and memorable spa treatment of my life at The Sacred River Spa. Looking back on it feels like a very vivid dream. The treatment was a ‘chakra ritual’ lasting 2 hours. After filling out a very personal questionnaire, the therapists prescribed the Muladhara ritual for me which was the ‘root chakra’. Knowing very little about chakras, I went in with an open mind.
I remember being taken to an individual spa villa that was surrounded by water, lily pads and stepping stones. I remember hearing the trickling of fountains as I got changed into my robe. It was idyllic. We started with a Balinese tapping ritual to energise my body, followed by a kemenyan smoke ceremony. The smell of the smoke was woody and intense. Next was a deep slow massage with ginger and patchouli and finally the therapist used a soothing singing bowl which I remember almost put me to sleep. After the treatment I felt strangely emotional as if the therapist had connected with me in a way I had never felt before. The smell of patchouli still transports me back to this experience. Because of the senses I used and the emotions I felt, it’s definitely something I’ll never forget.
“Scientific evidence is clear in suggesting the more of our senses we stimulate, the more robust the multisensory memory that is formed. Technology keeps our eyes occupied, but while it plays to our dominant visual sense, it fails to connect with our more emotional senses.” Charles Spence
Embracing Sensory Travel in the Future
As a travel blogger, I do spent a lot of time sharing my travels through a smart phone and seeing beautiful things from behind a lens. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to, but it’s an inevitable part of the job. In my future travels I’m going to be more mindful about ‘switching on’ my senses, starting with my upcoming Scandinavian Cruise this week. I want my memories to last longer so that I can come home and blog about my experiences in the best way possible. I know that ‘slow travel’ and ‘mindful travel’ are popular phrases and concepts at the moment, but I think the term sensory travel incorporates both and seems to really resonate with me.
How in tune are you with your senses? Take the TUI Sensorialist quiz to find out and get the chance to win an exclusive all-inclusive 7 night holiday to a Sensatori resort in Rhodes.
What is your most vivid sensory travel memory? Are you mindful of your senses when you travel or has this blog post inspired you to do so? I’d love to hear your thoughts about sensory travel so please leave a comment below. Jess x
This blog post has been created in collaboration with TUI Sensatori. TUI Sensatori provides the ultimate luxury holiday experience where all of their five-star resorts are carefully and purposely designed to fuel the senses. All photos and views are my own.