Travel Can Be Transformational, at Any Age

By Jake Haupert, Co-Founder, Transformational Travel Council

Oh, do we ever miss travel right now, aye? Many of us have a different kind of fever, cabin fever. We’re spending our days dreaming of our past and future adventures and that unrivaled opportunity travel provides us to feel alive!

With the closing of many borders, our wanderlust is proving hard to contain, often to the detriment to our attempts to control the virus. It’s proven to be a primal urge that sits deep within our DNA, one that does not idle well, does not sit quietly in the night.

I am fascinated by the potential and possibility of travel and its superpowers in transforming self and society. Travel can change your life. However, over the last few decades travel has increasingly lost touch, become digitized, commoditized, and dare I say it, sanitized, and too often aimed at the privileged few. This has led to an unintended sense of entitlement, expectation, and exploitation that is kryptonite to real travel, filled with connection, meaning, and the possibility of transformation. Travel has always been a place to connect, learn, create memories, and refresh our perspectives of self, on life, but as the star or diamond rating went up, it seems the emotional return on investment went down. Why? Travel isn’t meant to be easy, it is meant to be hard, filled with the unknown, chance encounters, and breath-taking experiences that challenge us physically and psychologically, yet somehow leave us yearning for more.

Speaking of challenge, this moment we’re in now has undoubtedly provoked some needed introspection and contemplation. Perhaps we are a little more conscious and aware of what is truly important to us than we were before? Difficult times have a way of cracking us open, providing time and space to reconnect with what’s most important to us, and inviting us to re-envision what tomorrow looks like. For many of us, we’ve welcomed back some of life’s simple joys, even rekindled values, beliefs, and behaviors that support family, community, and societal bonds. That’s an incredible silver lining that will hopefully ground people back into their human nature.

In these quiet moments, we’re also reconsidering the role travel plays in our lives, in our civilization. We are coming to realize what a sacred gift it is and are beyond eager to embark on a journey, but more thoughtfully, more responsibly than before. The Transformational Travel Council is reimagining travel as a holistic process, as an intentional practice that nourishes the soul, benefits the lives of others, and is regenerative for destinations and communities.

Travel can be much more than just a vacation, it is a fertile ground for human connection, cross-cultural understanding, meaning-making, and advancing traits like humility, gratitude, and empathy, even breaking through divisions between us and within us. After all, travel doesn’t just activate the senses, it illuminates new ways of being and engaging the world. There is research proving that being in other places with other people, whether that be racial, ethnic, or cultural, tends to fire and wire neurological pathways that stimulate creativity, innovation, and imagination. It doesn’t take a brain scientist to know that fosters a life more aligned, virtuous, and heart-centric!

How can you consciously engage in a way that inspires and cultivates positive change, how can you approach your next journey a little differently, open to giving and receiving, with an eye toward connection and meaning?

The secret lies in moving from being a passive tourist to an active participant in the journey, making more mindful choices, and then letting go and letting flow. And by letting go, I mean, releasing expectation, the illusion of control, and simply relishing the unknown in and around you, engaging fully, deeply. Real travel is magical, mystical, and serendipitous, filled with moments of awe and wonder. As any explorer can attest, the unknown is where the power and prowess of travel hides. As you dream of your next adventure, understand that transformation can’t be designed, promised, or delivered, that it is for you and you alone, whether it is a simple or radical change you seek, transformation with a small t or BIG T, it is simply a wonderful opportunity to grow.

5 Ways You Can Travel to Transform…

  • Travel Intentionally, Openly, and Intuitively
  • Go Slow, Fully Engage, and Surrender
  • Be Aware of Your Perceptions, Biases, and Privilege
  • Welcome Challenge, Disorientation, and Real Encounters
  • Take Time for Reflection, Journaling, and Meaning-Making

As your wanderlust is now properly stoked, here’s some good news. In our recent study on microadventures, we uncovered that time and distance away from home are not as important as one’s frame of mind when traveling. Disconnecting from email, phone, and other distractions is important, that it is really “Depth over Distance,” which is really good to hear in the time of COVID-19. It doesn’t have to be across the ocean, it truly is about bringing fresh eyes and an open mind every time you walk out your front door, and traveling like you mean it!

When it is time to travel afar again, I can assure you the travel industry will be healthier, more thoughtful, and congruent with human truths and societal values, and that is a very good thing. We’d all benefit from more conscious, purposeful journeying that maximizes the power of travel to positively transform how we live our lives, how we live with others, and how we live on our planet.

Note: This article was originally posted on Chip Conley’s Modern Elder Academy Wisdom Well’s blog.


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