Commentary & Interviews

Transformative Travel

Transformative travel is where positive personal growth and change can be nurtured through travel. By that loose definition, any kind of travel can be transformative.

One of the goals of this travel blog is to show how a sense of self-reliance, resourcefulness and self-confidence can be achieved through travel. But that’s only part of personal growth.

TRANSFORMATIVE TRAVEL ISN’T A LUXURY PRODUCT

When transformative travel became the new trend a number of years ago, it was marketed to luxury travellers. Transformative travel is unique and personal to everyone. It isn’t possible to package a product or service as transformational for all or at a specific price level. It happens naturally and spontaneously. 

HAVE I BEEN TRANSFORMED?

Good question. Have you incorporated the feelings, vibe and lessons of your travels into your daily life without negatively impacting on your environment and those around you? Have you enriched your inner life? Are you looking at everyday situations with a renewed perspective? If you can answer yes to some of these questions then transformation has taken place.

And if you can’t answer yes, don’t worry. It may dawn on you later, in the most ordinary of everyday situations, that your trip has been of personal benefit. When I sat down to write a post on a Croatia destination, this post was the end result.

Regular travel and its cultural kaleidoscope can make inner happiness an easier state. Exposure to a different culture can create a safe zone for openness that allows for transformation to happen. It can enhance self-awareness, make you comfortable in your own skin, and inspire you to reach your full potential. It can highlight that the ordinary in your life may be extraordinary to someone else, and vice versa. It may prompt you to find meaning in your life as opposed to chasing the elusive meaning of life.

One thing is for sure: Tolerance and a widening of perspective are two after-effects of travel. You are exposed to new ideas, new cultures and new ways of doing things. A destination will prompt you to keep an open mind. This is significantly transformative.

“I ONLY WENT TO SEE THE BRIDGE”

There is no particular part of the world that guarantees complete transformation for everyone. I once saw a fascinating documentary on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge so made a point of walking across it when I visited New York.

While there, I got chatting to a guy who expressed his reservations about Donald Trump. He felt the president’s ability to manipulate the human tendency to forgive and forget has meant a lifetime of unchallenged transgressions and bullying of others which he believed would continue during Trump’s term of office. For me, this small moment was a transformation of thought as such a theory of entitlement can be applied to everyday situations. And I only went to see the bridge.

No particular activity has a monopoly on transformative travel. Meditating in an ashram may be transformative and it may not. You can have a transformational experience just by walking down the street or across a bridge, as I demonstrated above. The key is connecting and the extent that you can connect with your destination.

What I do know is that destinations differ in the way they can affect you. Going with the flow of a destination and all that it encompasses may differ from your pre-conceptions and expectations. That can be transformative in itself.

A FORCE FOR CHANGE

There is no doubt travel is a force for change. There’s something about travel that meets our needs and the longing for that need is ever present. The personal benefits of travel are numerous as is the importance of tourism to a destination.

Transformative travel is about getting under the skin of a destination, chatting to locals, listening to their stories, seeing the world through their eyes, and gaining an empathy.

And that’s what the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic denied us – the opportunity to experience that all-enriching connection that transforms us for the better.   

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