Can Travel Make You a Better Person?

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Gazing through the window next to your seat, lines of tiny houses on top of familiar terrain emerge as you go in and out of the wispy clouds. A member from the cabin crew comes on the overhead speaker to let you know you will start your descent shortly. You’re home, but something is different. You are a new you. You feel refreshed, revitalized, and transformed. 

If you’ve had a life-changing experience on a trip, you can probably relate to this feeling. However, with the way that we travel in today’s day and age, most of us come home feeling exhausted from our holidays. Just think of how many times have you heard someone say they need a “vacation from their vacation?” — I’ll be the first to admit that I am guilty of being that person on a couple of occasions.  

We fill our itinerary from take-off to landing with experience after experience. Trying to check off as many things as humanly possible from our bucket lists in the span of a week. When the plane touches down back home we feel hazy, unable to process the full glory of what we just experienced. It’s all just a blur. Even recalling what happened each day we were gone becomes difficult. 

However as the pandemic brought travel to a screeching halt over the past years, our stillness brought reflection. This inward journey sent many of us on a newfound search to find meaning in our lives.

More and more people are turning towards an altruistic way of being, and travel is no exception. From movements like Sweden’s “flygskam” or flight shaming to the rise in demand for “happiness retreats” people are looking to travel in a mindful way. Itching to gain something more valuable than a few good shots for Instagram on their next trip. 

What is Transformational Travel?

Travel has long been a way of discovering not only the world but also ourselves. Although travel for self-exploration is often portrayed as a cliche in contemporary culture — Think Eat, Pray, Love. It’s something that intellectuals and spiritual leaders have been practicing since ancient times. 

Transformational travel reconnects us to this concept of traveling for self-discovery. It places the focus of traveling on deeply connecting rather than merely experiencing. The goal is to merge the exploration of our inner and outer world to stretch our mindsets, challenge ourselves, and grow as individuals.

By doing this we will gain a more open, accepting, and empathetic viewpoint of the world and how we relate on a global scale. Transformational travel makes space for us to create meaningful changes not only during our trip but also when we return to our daily life. Allowing us to become better stewards of one another and our planet. 

What Does Transformational Travel Look Like?

The great thing about transformational travel is that it’s not exclusive to a fancy location, or prepackaged retreat. Any form of exploration has the possibility of being transformational. When it comes down to it, the individual traveler is in full control. 

The key is cultivating the mindset, and using willpower to apply the ethos to your trips. Travel becomes truly transformational when you make space for deep reflection, meaning-making, and using the inspiration gained to take action in your life. While there are retreats and travel agencies that focus on setting up an ideal trip for transformational travel, as long as you are doing these things you are setting yourself up to be changed by any experiences along your path.

So can travel make you a better person? Yes, but it’s up to the person traveling to do the work.

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