An Introduction to Transformational Travel

January 01, 2021

How one trip has the potential to change your life.
2020 was the year that changed everything. National lockdowns, travel bans, job losses, missed moments with family and friends…the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us reassess what’s important in our lives. So, as we look forward to 2021 and a potential vaccine that will open up the world again, what’s on your wishlist when it comes to holidays? Here we explore the transformative power of travel and how it can change your life.

If you were to ask yourself ‘what does travel mean to me?’, would your answer be about finding relaxation, discovering new cultures or visiting family? Or perhaps developing yourself, helping others and meeting new people?

There are many different reasons why we chose to get on a plane and change our scenery, and these can evolve over time. From simply wanting to sit on a beach with a cocktail and forget about it all, to seeking out experiences that enhance our lives or the lives of others.

More and more people are choosing to travel with a purpose or a clear intention. They see their precious annual leave days as an opportunity for personal growth or reflection, which has seen a rise in ‘transformational travel’ experiences.

If you’ve ever found yourself flying home from a holiday with a sense of dread at going back to normal life or just a feeling of emptiness as the wheels touch down and you’re snapped back into the ‘real world’, choosing to travel with a purpose could change your life.

But what is transformational travel?

The travel industry has irrevocably altered over the last few years in line with the changing behaviours and desires of the human race. Technology has been one of the key drivers of the change, along with increased connectivity and a growing focus on self-development and improvement. People are booking holidays with a higher purpose than simply relaxing on a beach.

Skift, a travel intelligence company, defines Transformational Travel as ‘any travel experience that empowers people to make meaningful, lasting changes in their lives, whether big or small’.

But it doesn’t have to be the classic Eat, Pray, Love experience you might be thinking about. This isn’t just about ‘finding yourself’ in Thailand or trekking the Himalayas, it’s about approaching travel in a thoughtful way.

The pioneers behind the Transformational Travel movement are The Transformational Travel Council (TTC), an organisation started in 2016 by Jake Haupert and Michael Bennett, who wanted to help others transform their lives through travel. Their definition of transformational travel is ‘intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world’.

The TTC has set out to help us ‘positively transform how we live our lives, how we live with others, and how we live on our planet’. This is a very powerful message which resonates now more than ever in times of global uncertainty, climate change and rising mental health challenges.

But is there really a demand for this type of travel?
A survey by travel intelligence company, Skift, in 2017 found that out of 1,350 travellers, 54 percent of respondents ranked the importance of transformative travel as 7 out of 10 or higher and 52 percent said they place increasing value on this type of travel.
A follow-up survey of 500 people conducted in 2018 took a deeper look at how travellers consider these experiences. It found that 32 percent of consumers have had an experience while traveling that has transformed them in a positive way, while another 24 percent of consumers have not had such an experience but would like to.
Who are these transformational travellers?

You might associate this kind of travel with celebrities, younger people, gap years or retired people – basically, those who’ve definitely got the time, and sometimes the money, to indulge in a journey of self-discovery.

But transformational travel is for everyone – people of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles can find an experience to suit them.

So, whether you’re a high performer, a stressed-out parent, an adventurer, a wanderer, a volunteer, someone who has gone through loss or trauma, someone who is struggling with their mental health or someone who is just looking for a change and can’t put their finger on what that is, here is some inspiration for your next trip:

Health & Fitness: Book into a boot camp and shake off those old excuses. If you’re already a fitness enthusiast, why not add a marathon to your itinerary? Perhaps take the scenic route and cycle round the south of France, instead of driving?

Mind & Spirituality: From Yoga and meditation retreats, to making a pilgrimage to a destination that’s of spiritual significance, you can find peace, calm and balance through your travel.

Nature & Adventure: Whether you travel alone to conquer river rapids, go on a quest to see a rare bird, or take the whole family on an adventure sleeping under the starry skies, this is the way to find a new understanding and appreciation of what’s out there.

Learning & Upskilling: Learn to speak another language to gain a broader perspective on life. Discover the joy of baking like the French. Learn a new craft or an art form. Take everything you learned home with you and apply to life.

Creativity & Self Expression: Make like Ernest Hemmingway and travel to Cuba to inspire your inner-writer. Visit Europe for a painting holiday in Provence. Find your stage-presence – spend a few days being in someone else’s shoes – with drama classes in New York.

Love, Sex & Relationships: Understand yourself and the relationships you have better and gain greater insight into the other person through a shared travel experience. Together you can become more aware of who you are now and who your partner or children have become.

Success & Leadership: Take an educational trip to discover innovative ways of teaching, or learn new ways to get your point across, fresh methods that can help you be more successful and lead with more empathy in your day-to-day life.

Purpose & Impact: Become a better communicator and help teach in a school. Get the whole family involved in an awakening travel experience, such as a cultural exchange, that will develop character, deeper gratitude and a greater awareness of how to be better citizens.

Healing, Addiction & Trauma: Healing from physical illness requires dedication and often simple adjustments like a change in climate. However, if you are suffering from mental illness such as addiction or trauma, a specially focused trip can be the catalyst to start the healing process – this could be with experts or with spiritual guides.

Next steps
If you want to better your life through travel, it’s time to find your ‘why’ and explore a treasure trove of experiences with We Love Transformational Travel.

If you’re the owner or manager of a business that provides transformational experiences, drop us an email and let’s see how we can work together.