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Transformative travel experiences have been a bit of a hot topic in recent years, and while many might use context clues to figure out what exactly transformative travel is, some may not get it immediately – but that’s ok because you came to the right place to learn about it!
Essentially, transformative travel is the transformation that occurs via travel to many of us – oftentimes it’s an awakening to something, a sudden realization, an epiphany of sorts that one experiences when one is physically outside of the comfort zone.
Inspiration is always around, but there’s something that happens when we travel, and suddenly we lose previous social constructs that exist in our part of the world, we are encouraged and forced oftentimes to push our limits (both physically and mentally), and so on and so forth.
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We make space in our person to be open and aware of our surroundings and to learn new things and ways of being. It’s the perfect setting for inspiration to really hit and for transformation to occur, and for us to really notice it for what it is.
Transformative travel is a topic I often love to touch on inside the posts of the blog just because of previous transformations and self-development I’ve experienced through travel, but there are definitely more and growing reasons as to why people are starting to gravitate towards purposeful and intentional travel.
In this post, we’ll be talking about 5 easy and practical ways that you can create a transformative travel experience, that you can consider for your next trip if you’re looking to create a transformative travel experience that will serve you in more ways than one.
5 Easy Ways To Create A Transformative Travel Experience
Sit in a communal space and observe the world around you
Whether it’s a cafe, plaza, or town square – anywhere where you can observe the local culture is where you want to aim to be.
When you’re in a place where local culture is being lived as usual, and you get to literally sit in and observe what is going on around you, from the parents interacting with their kids, to the cafe waiters interacting with their patrons, and more, you get to observe, learn, and understand where you are a bit more.
When you’re observing life being lived around you, naturally you’ll begin to get a few questions pop into your head, comparing what you’ve always known about whatever you’re looking at to what you’ve always done at home, wondering how and why things are the way they are in this part of the world, but also asking yourself why they are the way they are back where you’re from, and so on and so forth.
I can get really detailed on this one, as I have literally had so many questions and curiosity pop in my head from sitting at a cafe just people watching.
Not only is it interesting, but it’s such a great way to gain insight on your own about the local culture, and everything that comes from it to guide your personal transformative experience.
Bring a journal on your trip to document your transformative travel experiences
One thing about transformative travel and life experiences, in general, is that it’s not just about going through the experience and being done with it.
Rather, it’s also about having a way to go back to the experiences time after time, refresh your memory with all the details written, in order to keep learning nuggets of gold and wisdom through them.
What better way to record your transformative travel experience than with a journal to keep a record of these new things and life experiences you’re gaining?
I know that keeping a journal seems to be on the trendier side these days, many people talk about it, including me, but it’s for good reason.
We forget a lot of things – like a lot of things – especially the small details that often are the enlightening moments that change something for us while experiencing these deep transformative travel events and moments.
How do I write a travel experience?
You can start by writing details about people, parts of conversations, certain views, ideas, breakthroughs, plans, activities, etc.
Since those things are typically hard to hold on to in our minds, writing these details down in a journal for you to go back to and read whenever you’re looking for clarity, further learning, something to help you with decision making, etc.
It is the best way to write about your travel experiences because like a book, you can go back and reread your favorite parts – or all of it.
Travel and journals are a common pair, but when it comes to having a transformative travel experience, it couldn’t be more essential and helpful to have.
I personally really love these by the brand Compendium called Everywhere You Go Guided Travel Journal, which is a pack of 8 slim notebooks (making this notebook super easy to carry even in your carry-on) and the journals include prompt questions, guided prompt questions to break down your experiences into bite-size chunks, and also ample white space to free write any and all events and transformative travel moments.
Any notebook you can get will work, but I know that having something that has a few prompts and space to write in my own notes is the best of both worlds, and maybe something you’re looking for as well.
Take walks around the local neighborhood
A lot of things change over time, but a walk around the neighborhood you’re staying in will always be something great that you can do to deepen your transformative travel experience.
When you’re walking around the neighborhood where you’re staying or a neighborhood that you find inspiring in the city you’re visiting, it can be easy to begin getting engrossed in the details of the neighborhood the more you walk around.
The architecture of the buildings, the sounds coming out from the residential buildings, the smells from various kitchens wafting through the air, and the sound of people speaking in foreign languages; it’s all a new kind of experience in and of itself within travel.
The more you walk, even if aimlessly, the more it feels like you are absorbing the moment and what’s around you, and the more mental room is created to allow new ideas and thoughts in, inspired by your walk.
If you keep walking, it can even feel like you’re walking towards something, such as a sign, clarity, curiosity, and/or inspiration.
There’s something transformative that happens when you can walk foreign streets with your own two feet, and get a semblance and personal sense of what all of this makes you feel, and if you like it.
>> Read More: 5 Of My Best Tips On How To Navigate Any Foreign City
Experience buying food at a local grocery store
Buying food at a grocery store is so much more than just buying food.
Again, this is an opportunity and window into local culture, local people, and how you navigate these changes of being in a surrounding that is not your usual one.
You may be thinking I am going a bit too deep with this, but if we think about it, a grocery store may be the most mundane thing back home – but in a foreign country, it is almost like a museum – a real-time, everyday, free museum into what daily life is like.
Sometimes in actual museums, we’ll stumble across the exhibits that showcase what daily life was like back in a certain time period, with certain artifacts to complement the exhibit and our understanding of that time – if you stumble into a grocery store, you get that exact same thing, but in real-time, as in actually happening right now.
Going into a foreign grocery store for the first time, you’ll be amazed and engrossed in things such as the size of the grocery store, the items sold inside, the options available, brands, colors, products, and not to mention, the prices.
The transformation that may be occurring on the inside may be comparing food prices, product options, appearance/freshness, availability, how much food people buy, etc, and thinking about how that compares with what you may be accustomed to seeing back home.
It forces you to look at your own eating habits, and see what other people eat and how they take care of themselves or lack thereof, depending.
Participate in a local but transformative activity
A way to experience transformative travel, and new things are by participating in a local activity such as a cooking class, walking tour, an incredible food experience, a language exchange, volunteer work, etc.
Travel in and of itself is already stepping out of your comfort zone (literally and figuratively) however, a way to further push your comfort zone is to make the choice to participate in a local activity or an activity that allows you to engage with your surroundings in a deeper way.
Deeper, in the sense of intentionally focusing to learn more about a certain part of the city that you may be interested in.
Interested in cooking and food? Take a cooking class or do a food tour of local delicacies.
Interested in architecture? Do an architecture tour, or do a historical walk with a local guide.
Connecting with locals whether it’s your tour guide, or even with other travelers in your group is not only an exciting thing (making friends, yay!) but also a cool opportunity to learn from and even share what you’ve learned with others. This is especially nice if you’re traveling solo.
Why is traveling a positive experience?
Traveling is a positive experience solely because it takes you out of the 4 walls of your comfort zone, which are represented as your circle of family/friends, city/country, routines, foods, etc.
When you leave the 4 walls of your comfort zone via travel, it is as though you are “plucked” from your comfort zone, and placed in a part of the world where everything is different in one way or another.
Traveling is a positive experience, but it can be challenging for some as well – and that’s what makes it transformative.
Because for the first time, or the second or third, you see things that differ from your home. You observe how people move, talk, eat, interact, and utilize space.
How societies function – you learn what is a priority to people in different parts of the world, and how that influences everything from road infrastructure, to cuisine, holidays, and social expectations.
Travel in and of itself offers the opportunity to positively see the world, and open your mind to new lengths that are simply impossible back home.
How does traveling make you a better person?
Traveling, as you can start seeing, can challenge people’s old ways of doing things, and seeing life back home. This is not to say that the way you do things back home is inherently “bad” or “wrong” when compared to cities all over the world.
It simply means that the exposure that travel offers people the opportunity to observe these details in other parts of the world, which opens a whole discussion and area of thought in your mind to start thinking and questioning certain habits, practices, thoughts, and actions that are most common in your part of the world.
And since we as humans are often products of our environment, especially if we don’t have anything else to compare it with, we believe that the way things are at home is just the way things are mostly all over the world, or we hold certain worldviews that have been passed down to us via word of mouth.
To travel is to see and feel the world yourself. That is powerful because as you can see, the more you move and travel, the more it creates empathy for others, appreciation, and gratitude for what you have available to you, as well as self-awareness of where you stand in the world.
It helps us grow, improve and become better than who we were yesterday.
We get to take and leave what we have experienced either at home, or abroad, and it helps us become the people we are meant to be.
What is a life-changing trip?
Any type of trip where you have learned something new, even if it’s minuscule to the world, is a life-changing trip.
There is no one-word definition or a way to measure what a life-changing trip is because that depends on the person, their own life experience, and their world views.
What may be life-changing to you, may not be for someone else.
For instance, life-changing can be anything from trying a food combination that you never thought you’d like but somehow is now your favorite combination.
Or it can be a worldview that you see that a society in some city of the world values, that you also deem as important now after learning it and seeing it in practice while visiting.
What are some examples of life-changing experiences?
It can vary, but here are some of the things that I experienced on my trips that made my trips life-changing:
- Living in a city with an incredibly well-connected public transportation system – that was amazing and it is now something I look for in the next city I will live in.
- Eating fresh produce from the country of origin, ex: Feta cheese in Greece and olive oil in Spain 🤤🤤🤤 never liked these before visiting there before.
- The power of traveling as a student, and how that gave me clarity in terms of careers and what kind of lifestyle I wanted to live.
- Hearing about teaching English abroad for the first time during my study abroad experience, which I ended up doing after graduating.
What are the 5 benefits of traveling?
If I could boil it down, I would say that these are *some* of the 5 best benefits of traveling:
- For the first time perhaps, you learn about the world in the most immersive, impactful way for yourself.
- You meet and interact with different people, and realize that we are not so different after all.
- You learn to be creative – with your money, your time, and so much more.
- You get good with money – maybe not right away, but it’s definitely a skill that comes with the travel planning process.
- You get to know yourself, and that is priceless.
Some people have asked me before: Why is traveling good for your soul? Well, because as humans, we are meant to keep learning, growing, and moving in ways that make us feel free.
What makes a trip transformative for you?
I’d love to read your comments down below, letting me know what has made a trip transformative and life-changing for you!
As you can see, and based on your own travel, I am sure you have some examples that you can share with us, and we can make the comments a motivating inspiration for people to go on a transformative travel experience.
Concluding thoughts on how you can create your next transformative travel experience
There are many ways that you can create a transformative travel experience, as change is a unique thing for each individual, and everyone has different ways to push a bit further outside their comfort zone.
The act of travel is transformative in and of itself, but I hope that these 5 easy ways to create a transformative travel experience can help serve you as more inspiration to keep growing on your travels.
Is there an activity you do to push your comfort zone a bit or learn better from the places you visit?
What has been the most transformative destination you’ve been to, and how did it change you? Let me know in the comments below!
To more travel moments like these,