What is Transformative Travel?
The core of transformative travel is renewal — renewal of your creativity, your confidence, your motivation, and your sense of purpose.
Through transformative travel, you can tap into your ideal self, spark inspiration, and restore your passion for life.
As much as I love long-term travel, that is not what this is about. This is about using whatever time you can take away to renew yourself. Travel can transform your life, but you have to make the effort to engage deeply in your experiences and take the time to reflect upon them.
The Four Pillars of Transformative Travel
There are four pillars to finding renewal: mindfulness, compassion, hope and playfulness. The combination of these four pillars nourishes your mind, body and soul. The best part is that these four things are easy to come by in your travel experiences. The key is being aware of when to embrace these opportunities for change.
Mindfulness is perhaps the most important, and most difficult, aspect of finding renewal. Thankfully, we often find mindfulness easier when we travel, because everything is so new and stimulating to us.
The best ways to practice mindfulness when you travel, and in your everyday life, is to meditate and keep a journal. Of course, mindfulness is about being aware in the now, but meditating and keeping a journal will help you get better at noticing when you are being mindful and when you aren’t.
While we talk a lot about self-renewal through transformative travel, it is not all about being self-focused. Selflessness and compassion for others is a huge part of renewing ourselves, improving our own confidence and sense of self. Practicing compassion will continue to boost your relationships and increase your happiness long after your trip.
This can be as simple as leaving your judgment at home, treating everyone you meet with respect when you travel rather than carrying around distrust. Or it can be more engaging, finding ways to get involved or volunteer at your destination. Even just taking the time to learn about local issues can enrich your mind and give you a new perspective. You may just find a new cause you are passionate about or an issue you can do something about even after you return home.
Travel has a way of opening our minds and increasing our positive thinking. If there are areas of your life where you feel hopeless, tackle them head on when you travel. Is your endless work inbox plaguing your mind? Make it a goal to unplug and disconnect from the internet for part of your trip. Feeling unfit or unhealthy? Challenge yourself to go on a multi-day hike, or spend part of your trip at a yoga retreat.
When we get stuck in our routines and habits, we also get stuck in our patterns of thinking. Most of the time, we have the power to turn around the things that we aren’t happy with in our life. Often, the biggest hurdle is changing our perspective.
Fun and playfulness are just as important as being mindful and compassionate. Transformative travel does not mean you have to spend your whole vacation in a serious state of meditation. Part of feeling refreshed and renewed is the energy that comes from doing things that you enjoy. This is also a good way to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try something new and exciting!
Transformation After the Trip
The trip is only the first part of transformative travel. You will come back from your trip feeling energized and renewed, but it takes continued effort to keep these positive changes in your life.
Once you’ve learned to incorporate the four pillars of renewal in your travels, it’s time to carry those values over into your everyday life. Read more about mindful living and how it can help you continue to grow after your trip is over.
“I am sweating!”
The park ranger and I called this phrase to each other in Spanish as we waved goodbye.
My recent trip to Panama was a collection of palabras, of words.
“Estoy sudando” or “I am sweating” was one phrase I eagerly collected as I made conversation with a guard at Parque Natural Metropolitano in Panama City. He spoke no English. I was on my first day of an 11-day language learning vacation.
As I lingered with the ranger, waiting for a taxi, all I wanted to say was that I was very sweaty after my hike through the park. Hard as it may be to believe, the word “sweat” was not one I knew in Spanish, so I tried to use my somewhat limited vocabulary to describe the word I was looking for.
“Como se dice cuando hay algo como agua en tu piel? Porque hace calor?” I asked. “How do you say when there is something like water on your skin? Because it is hot out?”
A blank look.
“Cuando hace calor y es como agua… Y tu piel es rojo…” I continued, motioning at my arms and face, making a fanning motion. “When it is hot and it is like water… And your skin is red…”
My attempts at circumnavigating the word fell flat until I raised my arm and made a circular gesture at my armpit to indicate where most people showed off their best sweat stains.
“Ah! Sudar! Estás sudando!” he exclaimed. And so my first new Spanish word was collected. (more…)
When was the last time you visited a state or national park? What did you do when you were there?
For many of us, the answer is probably something along the lines of: walked a trail, took some pictures, went home. We tend to enjoy these gorgeous, well-maintained, easily-accessed natural wonders without too much thought.
The National Park Service recently caught attention when it was banned from tweeting. People began calling park rangers the leaders of a resistance. Then other big news took over, wiping the entire ordeal from our minds.
But the problems facing our public lands and the overarching environmental and climate issues facing our planet aren’t going to go away.
We need to learn, we need to care, and we need to fight for awareness, attention, and change for issues that will have a significant impact on not just our own futures, but the futures of generations to come. (more…)
Spending the summer working in Fiji was an eye-opening experience.
I explored secluded islands, ran across sandbars, visited a floating bar. I went hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, ziplining, and skydiving above one of the most spectacular ocean views you can imagine.
I snorkeled with giant manta rays and swam under giant waterfalls. I witnessed more spectacular sunrises and sunsets than I can count. I jumped down sand dunes, lathered up in mud at hot pools, and led students in finding a little selflessness to work on local service projects.
All of that was incredible, but perhaps what I’ll remember the most about my summer in Fiji was the unique immersion of the experience, and the peace and joy I found in living simply.
I remember quite vividly the moment I decided to travel abroad for the first time.
I was 12. A letter had come in the mail from People to People, inviting me to travel to Australia for two weeks as a student ambassador with a group of other sixth graders. At first, I set the letter aside without much thought.
In my mind, there was no way I could do something like that. It didn’t even seem like a remote possibility. I don’t think it was even the fear of going, though I was a painfully shy kid, but simply the thought that such a trip was not something people actually do.
Maybe my parents pushed it a little bit, I don’t remember. In all likelihood, my dad encouraged me some, while my mom probably felt she would rather not send her little girl take off to the other side of the globe.
But then something happened. (more…)
The New 7 Wonders of Nature have been announced, and I have to say I’m a little bit surprised by the outcome. While I’m proud to say I’ve been to three of the seven wonders, I am pretty amazed at some of the things that were left off.
Here is the list. (They say this is still a provisional list and there is still a possibility of change in outcome, but I doubt it.) (more…)
I’m in Southwest Florida. It’s summer. Now, if you’re anything like me you might not really have thought about one thing about Florida. It’s tropical. It rains. A lot. Since the rain started (which I believe was a bit late this year), it’s rained almost every afternoon, which is when I usually get to thinking about venturing out to do something interesting. The other day it wasn’t even just the afternoon. It rained all day.
After staring glumly out the window wishing I could actually enjoy my semi-proximity to the beach for once, an idea hit me. I had a pool! So I threw on my bathing suit and hopped in the pool.
Swimming in the rain was fun, freeing, spontaneous — it gave me a bit of that special travelin’ feeling. And it brought back a memory of another time I went swimming in the rain… (more…)