Editor’s Note: At the Adventure Travel World Summit in Salta, Argentina, this month, delegates will be asked to fully immerse themselves into the Summit experience through specific event experiences, which have been designed to facilitate this approach. With that in mind, we asked the Transformational Travel Council (TTC) to give us an update on their consumer-focused transformational travel strategy. Its philosophy offers an introspective approach to how we travel.
Given the current state of the world and the cultural turmoil and global unrest, an underlying darkness bubbles just below the surface of daily life. We can all agree we could use more people traveling, shifting our perspectives and opening up our minds, hearts, and souls.
Travel, whether that be to the park or across the ocean, will always represent an extraordinary opportunity to overcome, fear, hate, and intolerance, and awaken stewardship, compassion, empathy, and global understanding. Inviting our clients to travel with an eye toward transformation just accelerates the process and amplifies the results.
Transformation requires we explore ourselves even as we explore the world. And when traveling like a HERO, in #HeroMode, the possibility of transformation is illuminated. A HERO travels with Heart, is fully Engaged, practices Resolve, and is wide Open to the unknown within every journey. And when travelers do that, they can transform themselves and transform the world.
Throughout the years and into the present day, yoga retreats, rites of passages, pilgrimages, and quests have called on the traveler in a more holistic way, and now it’s time for us all to integrate these concepts into adventure travel. The travel market is awakening to these possibilities, and the trends reflect they’re yearning for this level of intentionality and subsequent results.
Traveling like a HERO inevitably takes exploration inward, into humanity and the zone unknown. Let go of the bucket list, frequent flier miles, passport stamps, thread counts, diamond- and star-rating systems, and “look at me” moments on Facebook and Instagram. The pace of our digitally driven lives today is leaving little room for curiosity, creativity, mindfulness, or reflection. And the result is a society that has become too selfish and often disconnected from what’s most important: our relationships, nature, culture — and even ourselves.
Much of the market is aware that something is missing and is seeking out travel like never before in search of answers and in search of meaning. The chaos and noise we live with is forcing the human spirit to counterbalance by calling us into wide-open spaces to find open spaces within us. Travelers are seeking to reignite their sense of wonder and are craving deeper and more fulfilling travel experiences — a fact backed up by research.
As the tribe, it’s our load to carry, and it’s on us to rise to the occasion, guide, and support the traveler in pursuit of transformation. To do this, we must reimagine our relationship with the market, the traveler, the trip designer, and the seeker. And while we can only guide travelers through the process and provide them with the tools to succeed in their endeavor, the onus is ultimately on them. We must reconnect our clients to the real purpose of travel, have them rethink their role in the journey, invite them to move from being passively entertained to being on the field and playing an active role in their journey.
Because of this, we at the TTC have set out to transform travel, not by adding more exotic locations, new levels of luxury, or unknown heights of extreme sport, but by amending what the traveler understands travel has to offer and thereby pursues. We want to set travelers on a course to transform the world by transforming themselves.
When in #HeroMode, travelers recognize their perspectives define their experience, their participation matters, and by setting intentions, being mindful, contemplating, and applying the benefits back home, travel becomes transformational.
This really isn’t anything new. Humans have always traveled — nomadically, curiously, and often in search of deep personal meaning. As an industry, we should look back to look forward, call on the wisdom of those who have walked the path before us. In many ways, travelers are seeking to reconnect travel to its roots and to its power.
The TTC wonders if travel can be theoretically designed and experienced to create conditions for a profound personal change. And by calling on the collective wisdom of the past and integrating contemporary science, we’re bridging it with adventure travel today.
At the root of this is gaining a clear understanding of what inspires people to set out on a journey. We believe travel is and can be a modern-day rite of passage — founded on personal growth, intellectual curiosity, emotional needs, and the desire for physical and or emotional challenges. We know travel can jolt individuals away from potentially unhealthy patterns, allowing them to escape, act more freely, experiment with new ways of being, or seek solutions when life seems to be unraveling.
The most influential contribution to the work we’re doing at the TTC came from Joseph Campbell and his Hero’s Journey. The Hero or Heroine Journey concludes that at some point in our lives we encounter a crisis, a deadening in our life resulting in a hunger for more meaning, illumination, and desire to feel more alive. The journey takes us from innocence to wisdom and from stagnation to a new life or “rebirth.”
Doesn’t this sound like one of your best travel adventures? Isn’t the Hero’s Journey a metaphor not just for travel, but for our lives?
For those of you setting out for ATWS in Salta, keep this mind. As we come together, connect with why you’re going in the first place. What do you hope to get out of the Summit personally? Professionally? Ask yourself, what can I do — what can I let go of or create or change — that will allow me to get the most out of this adventure in Argentina? How can I see myself and my fellow delegates from a new perspective that will inspire all of us to be HEROes?
Dig as deep as you want, because there is always more below our initial, surface-level answer. Getting started on getting more out of any travel experience can be as simple as that. Seizing opportunities begins with recognizing opportunities, and every journey is the opportunity to do something extraordinary.