Speaking to our group from a log cabin in the woods of Washington, where they go to create, innovate and hang out, co-founders of the Transformational Travel Council (TTC) and Explore X, Jake Haupert and Michael Bennett, are sharing their ideas on the opportunities that mindful travel can offer. The two men are part of a movement that encourages travelers to intentionally stretch, learn and grow through their travel experiences.
This month TTC has officially published the first Transformational Travel Journal, a traveler focused guide book that initiates the process of mindful travel before departure, and offers people opportunities to reflect upon and make meaning of their experiences, both while they’re travelling and once they return.
“The ultimate aim is mindful living, not just mindful traveling. It shifts attitudes and beliefs and values, and opens you up to a new way of engaging with the world.”–Jake Haupert
The Transformational Travel Council is focused on accessing the persona of the traveler, and setting them on a course for a journey that will support their personal development, aspirations, goals and intentions.
In days gone by, when travel was not as easy as in the last decade, this was the essence of travel experiences. People set out on the road to adventure; open and willing to shake off the constraints of ‘normal’ life and learn about the world. Over time mainstream travellers shifted to consuming, rather than experiencing and transforming. With the invention of the internet, online travel, luxury travel and the evolution of travel apps like Instagram, travelling the globe became too easy, thus changing the nature of travel.
Wellness travel professionals Lindy Andrews and Ombi Zanetti both noted that what looks new for some is really an extension of their original travel experiences in the 1990s. It reminded me of my own first travel experiences. At 23, freshly qualified as a teacher, I left Australia and landed in London prepared to start a new life. My backpack held my clothes, a Lonely Planet guidebook and a notepad. I had only the guide’s instructions on how to get from the airport to the recommended backpackers’ hostel, and no idea if there would be a room available. Back then, we would show up on the doorstep and hope. If they were full, we’d move on to the next one. Because we couldn’t book an AirBnB online, we learned to persevere. We made friends in hostels and we explored, learned and grew through our experiences.
One of the fundamental questions that Michael and the rest of the TTC are asking is why do we travel differently to how we live? And how do we take our traveling attitude and bring it into our daily lives? Michael says that the onus of engaging with the experience is on the traveler. The TTC can provide them with the ancient wisdom, the modern science, the practical tools and resources like the journal, and talk about the “path” and “travelling with heart”, but they can’t do the work for them.
The hope of the TTC is that the Transformational Travel Journal will encourage the type of reflection that will affect real change in the lives of travelers when they return to their normal lives.
The plan is to engage with the traveler in a meaningful and intentional way before they go, and nudge them to reflect on what they do when they’re travelling; how they are engaging differently, how they are practicing curiosity and travelling with heart. They also want travelers to analyze the process of their return, make meaning from their experiences, and use them to enrich their lives and the lives of others.
Cameron Crispin, the co-founder of Wander eco lounge, tells the group that he has run men’s retreats which included time for reflection and structured journaling, with outstanding results. The positive feedback from participants has proved that the process is life changing. Some of the men had never created the time or space for that type of reflection in their entire lives.
Jen Fein, the co-founder and CEO of YouLi travel management software, shares: “It’s a challenge for us, as a travel tech platform, to play the right role and enable the right kind of travel”.
Jen is leading the YouLi team in building the Transformational Travel Marketplace for the growing community that unites travel designers, tour operators, destination managers, media and PR professionals, academic researchers, software developers and insurance providers who are committed to shifting the travel industry to the original roots of transformational experiences. The marketplace is powered by YouLi trip management software designed to help organizers fully prepare travelers for the trip, so they can immerse themselves into the travel experience.
“Our hope is that by creating technology, and putting it in the hands of people like Jake and Michael, and the rest of the TCC designers, that they actually create nudges that push travelers down these transformational paths,”– Jen Fein
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