Throughout your pilgrimage, you can practice presence by noticing both the diversity and the unity of spiritual practices. Hearing the call to prayer from a mosque, I found myself recalling how many traditions call out specific times for prayer through chimes, bells, or voices broadcast from a minaret. What cues to prayer, I wondered, can I incorporate into my daily life when I get home? Noticing how the whole atmosphere of Jerusalem changed on the Jewish Sabbath, I renewed my commitment to observe a day of rest.

Write notes and keep a journal. I was writing in my journal one day when another tour group passed by. A woman exclaimed, "I want to keep a journal too, but I never have time. To write I'd have to miss something." I know the feeling. Most tours are really packed with activities. One tip to all would-be journal writers: Give up the idea of keeping your trip diary chronological. If you try to keep it orderly, you'll soon fall behind and end up with a few days recorded in detail and the rest lost in frustration. Practice travel presence by letting your journal just happen.

My Israel journal is in two 5" x 7" notebooks, one of which I always carried in the back pocket of my purse. It has my notes from the lectures at the conference I was attending, the times for breakfast, when the bus would leave, addresses of people I met, and notes taken during the guide's talks. In the back I kept a running list of impressions I wanted to write about when I had more time. Some of those entries I did while sitting in the bus and even while waiting in the bathroom line. Others I wrote back in the hotel. I also bought postcards in the hotel of places I knew were on the agenda, then jotted notes to myself on the back of them. (And yes, I did take one day off from touring, missing something but doing the reflecting that was important to me.)

I discovered making brief notes as I went along helped keep me in the moment. This practice periodically cleared my mind of things I was struggling not to forget. That way I could be more open to new experiences.

Participate in present-day life. When you are traveling to a place with a rich past, sometimes that is all you focus on. But presence means being here now. Once in New York City where I live, I was surprised to find one of my favorite grocery stores filled with tourists from a large bus parked outside. "How silly," I thought to myself. "They are seeing a market on their tour." But then I realized that one of my favorite things to do in a foreign country is to visit a market. My senses come alive as I see the stalls of sweets, touch the unusual fruits and vegetables, smell the bins of spices. So on your next tour, try local foods. Put the strange green spice on the sesame seed bread bought from a cart in the Old City. Try eating olives and herring and eggplant jam for breakfast. All this is the spiritual practice of wonder, and if travel is anything, it is wonder-full.