One of the most important factors to transformative travel is the lens of the traveler. This means two people who experience the exact same itinerary can have very different experiences. What differentiates between the making of an ordinary experience and a transformative one? simply put – it is the lens from which the traveler perceives and engages with the world.
Recently I participated in the Transformational Travel Council’s Travel Mentor Mastermind Program- where best practices were shared for creating transformational journeys. One of my favorite take-aways from the group is their endorsement for preparing all travelers to travel with H.E.A.R.T. That is, to travel Humble, Engaged, Awake, Resilient, and Thankful. Each of these perspectives help to ready ourselves for deeper connections, growth, and expansion, which are the ultimate goals for travelers seeking transformative experiences.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what we mean when we ask travelers to carry the lens of H.E.A.R.T. First we begin with Humble.
HUMBLE – To travel humbly is to travel with an “empty cup” mindset. That is to travel with the age old wisdom offered by greek philosopher Socrates, “the only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.” Travelers that carry a humble perspective are open and understand that we have a lot to learn from people and places that are very different from our own. For a truly transformative experience it is important not to travel with fixed ideas that your way of life is the best – but to be open to learn and gain fresh perspective. It is also profoundly transformative when we begin to identify and question any false feelings of superiority we might have towards others. Often times travelers with the best of intentions will visit a place and compare the lifestyle of others with their own – and label others as “poor” or “uneducated”. Wise travelers view travel as an opportunity for growth and expansion. and find that authentic dialogue and connection to people and places from very different backgrounds often provide deeply meaningful insight into their own lives.
ENGAGED – To travel engaged is to leave behind the idea that travel is meant to simply entertain us. Instead travelers are encouraged to fully engage in their experience by making choices that will connect them more to local people, places, and landscapes. This could be as simple as speaking to your taxi driver to learn more about local life, move beyond pictures of beautiful landscapes and instead challenge yourself to physically adventure through them, or simply making conscious effort to be fully present while on your journey.
AWAKE – Being AWAKE speaks to being conscious about the world around us and how we interact with and relate to it. We ask travelers to actively seek the unseen aspects of a culture, to learn and understand the underlining beliefs that govern a place. A traveler seeking transformative experiences intentionally investigates how the world operates, how it influences us, and how we influence it. They also reflect deeply on their own beliefs that might be challenged and explore new avenues for expansion and growth. When we live our whole life with a particular worldview we can become blind to how it influences us – this is where traveling with H.E.A.R.T. can assist us in expanding our perspective and worldview. Simply being open and having the desire to learn can make all the difference.
RESILIENT – Traveling with resilience ask us to embrace all challenges as an opportunity for growth. All passionate travelers will tell you that some of their most memorable and meaningful experiences occurred when their ideas and expectations of a journey did not go as planned. It is in these moments that undiscovered gems appear.
What is the best way to handle unexpected hitches or changes that might occur during your adventure? I believe the first step in achieving resilience comes from planting your intentions before the trip. If you add a ritual with your intentions, the planting will be even stronger. These rituals will remind you of your true intention of a journey, even when things go awry. Resilience is also achieved by allowing yourself to release expectations and simply go with the flow. If we are open ourselves to embraces experiences outside of our pre-conceived expectations, that is typically when opportunities for expansion present themselves! Secondly, practice humor! Think of the great laugh this adventure will offer years from now. Lighten up the ‘stress’ of unexpected changes in the moment by keeping your funny bone intact.
Finally, another aspect of resilience is overcoming physical challenges. When confronted with physical challenges that are far from beyond your usual activities, remind yourself that you and your body are resilient and capable of more than you may have ever imagined. I know I was always surprised and even impressed by what my body was capable of when choosing to take on physically challenging adventures!
THANKFUL – All of our travelers are encouraged to consciously explore new dimensions of gratitude offered by the journey.This can include a deeper sense of gratitude for: our relationships, for the opportunities that travel affords us, or a renewed sense of gratitude for our daily lives. One traveler shared with us that she gained a new sense of appreciation and admiration for the wisdom of her body. There are many big and small opportunities to cultivate more gratitude in our journeys when we are seeking transformative travel experiences.
Traveling with H.E.A.R.T. will give any traveler the tools they need to grow, evolve, and create a more conscious loving world. with a cultivated h.e.a.r.t. centered perspective, anyone can use travel as a powerful vehicle for both personal and collective transformation.