There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of “transformative travel” until now, but it could very well be the buzzword you’ll be searching as you plan your next trip. Vogue has coined it the travel trend for 2017, and travel tour companies are beginning to showcase the life-changing benefits of their itineraries.
Transformative travel focuses on the self-reflection and self-discovery aspects of travel, and how you can incorporate the growth you’ve experienced on your trip into your day-to-day life back at home.
In fact, that’s what this website is all about. Wanderwell was born out of my passion for travel and everything I’ve learned about personal development through my holistic wellness certification and 10+ years of personal study. It’s the combination of inspiration for your outer journey and tools for your inner journey.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what transformative travel is, where people go wrong, and how you can experience it yourself.
What is transformative travel?
At its core, transformative travel is all about the personal growth travel inspires and cultivates. It takes experiential travel (authentic, local, culture-centric, off the beaten path experiences) to another level by incorporating lessons, exercises, coaching and other tools for self-development during and after the journey. Imagine a Nepalese homestay and trek through the Himalayas guided by a life coach. Or a yoga course combined with volunteering in Guatemala.
Here at Wanderwell, the approach is slightly different. With the basic definition in mind, I also believe:
- The transformation begins at home before you’ve even packed your bags
- With the right tools, you can have life-changing “ah-ha” moments during any kind of trip, even if you’re wining and dining your way around Paris or road tripping across the USA
- You can DIY your journey once you’ve learned to tap into the right mindset and tools. Guided tours and retreats are amazing, but if that’s not your bag, there is another way.
It’s no secret that travel is a powerful personal development tool. In our always-on, comparison-driven, externally stimulated, superficially (un)satisfied world, it’s a way to connect with our deeper selves in the present moment. It helps us remember how small we, and our problems, really are. And most importantly, it reminds us that we’re all connected. If we’re all in this thing called life together, why aren’t we making the best of it?
Where travelers go wrong
There’s a healthy dose of eye-rolling that happens when the words “transformative” or “life-changing” come up…and for good reason. Both of those terms are overused in all the wrong ways, plain and simple. I do believe, though, that travel has the potential to live up to those standards when practiced with intention.
There are a lot of people (especially here in America) who see travel as a purely consumerist experience; something you buy as a reward for hard work, or to show off on social media, or as an escape from life. When you approach travel that way, it still has its benefits, but there’s a good chance you’re not going to come back with a whole new perspective on life.
On the flip side, some travelers leave with massive expectations of epic, in-your-face, wow-my-life-is-changing-right-in-front-of-me moments. Sure, things of that nature happen on occasion, just as they do at home. But the magic of travel is in the details, the small moments that subtly add up over the course of your time abroad. And if you’re too busy chasing one big revolutionary shift, you just might miss them.
In either situation, when you look externally for something to change you—for something to happen to you instead of through you—you’re going to be disappointed in the long run. Of course, travel isn’t life-changing if you don’t actually do the work to change your life. That’s also the reason lottery winners aren’t happier than the rest of us. It’s why people who suffer to get skinny don’t find lasting joy in a healthier lifestyle. It’s why those who neglect their own friends, family, and health to climb the corporate ladder feel miserable in the end.
So, what’s the open-minded traveler to do?
How you can have a transformative travel experience
You know it’s time for a change. Maybe you feel stuck or directionless. Maybe you’ve just left a relationship or a job. Maybe you’re itching for some new inspiration–to feel creative and alive again. Maybe you’re celebrating a new chapter and want to experience the world through bright eyes.
These are all amazing reasons to go on a new adventure, one that will help you step out of the fishbowl you live in and come back with a renewed perspective on life…one that you’re actually excited to come home and live out.
Here’s how to get started:
- Simplify your life at home to figure out what matters most right now in travel and life. That means embracing a minimalist philosophy and getting real about what’s truly important. Note: This is different than a minimalist design aesthetic. I know not everyone shares my love for sparse, whitewashed Scandinavian kitchens.
- Point your compass in the right direction. Now that you’ve cleared the physical and mental clutter, go deep and think about what you truly value and how that translates to your next step in life.
- Choose the right destination and activities for where you’re at in life and what you want to get out of your trip. Steps one and two will help you figure it out.
- Live your adventure by learning how to translate what you’ve learned throughout your travels into your daily life at home.
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