Has travel transformed you?

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Transformational travel. Learn these words. Live these words. It is more than the latest trend; it is a new movement in life.

I believe this style of travel is a fated yet fortunate natural progression here in the anthropocene. It could only really take hold now, after sustaining this quite device-obsessed, time-crunched, attention span-less, and dare I say a bit depraved, age.

I believe transformational travel will save humanity if enough people get on board.

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The Journey

It’s said that humans are subconsciously called to travel to wake themselves up when they start sleep walking through life, or when they stop being themselves at home.

“Listen — are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

– Mary Oliver

Then they go on their trip and have high adventures, talk with people, pick up seeds of the new place(s) and plant them in the backs of their minds, and undetectably rework their perspective on themselves and home. All of this is fuel for something bigger brewing later.

When they return home, everything gets synthesised and internalised to some degree, and a transformation starts. For some it is a matter of a changed thought process and being more mindful. For others it is more behavioural – adding (or deleting) something to/from the daily routine. And for a few, it catapults them into, more or less, a whole new life.

What is Transformational Travel?

I’m still pretty new to this concept, so hopefully my friends over at The Transformational Travel Collaborative will cut me some slack if I formulate this incorrectly…

Transformational travel is a style of traveling in which one embarks on a trip to drive a needed change in his or her life.

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My Most Transformational Trip

For me, the obvious life-changing travel experience was spending four months in Greenland in 2012. 

At a superficial level, it made me painfully aware of behaviours, habits and customs that are ‘so American’.

At a meaningful level, it made me question whether those same American behaviours, habits and customs – which I no doubt had and probably still have to some degree, much to my chagrin – jived with my nature and who I wanted to be.

Upon returning to USA, the transformation began in which I deliberately decided that I preferred the different way of life to which my eyes were opened. After multiple trips back to Greenland, I started identifying much more with my Greenlandic life than my American life, and it all culminated with the decision to move permanently to Greenland.

I am still trying to figure out why Greenland of all places was the spark, but until then, I am just happy it was. 

What trip or place has changed you?

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13 thoughts on “Has travel transformed you?

  1. Really fantastic post! Thank you for introducing me to thinking about transformational travel as a way of life. I always knew that travel has the possibility to transform someone, but never thought of it from this perspective. When I travel, I consistently try to put myself out there – in new situations and cultures, so that I feel challenged and am able to reflecting on myself, my behaviours, and my perceptions. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve written!

  2. Travel has MADE me, made who I am. Travelling just makes me happy – even if in pain, when I travel I feel the most lucky person on the planet.

    Any trip changes me; but Venice, Italy in general, the Alps, far from the crowd and the beaten tracks, that’s just a permanent blessing. Recently, Ostia Antica has made my cry. Of beauty and joy, of course.

    Probably the trans-siberian would be top for me. But I’m too old…So I enjoy travel sites and posts like yours. Thanks !

    • Mario,
      Thank you for the comment and the readership!
      I’m so happy to e-meet others who can get as deep into the topic. I agree with you about feeling like the luckiest person on the planet when able to travel. On Saturday I posted a rant on Facebook about my awful seat on an airplane – couldn’t recline, no window, no space to move whatsoever – and then about 2 hours later I wrote a “prologue” to the rant totally going back on what I had written, saying something along the lines of, How dare I complain about this when I have the privilege to travel to and fro around the world in the first place. There are millions out there who would give anything to have that horribly uncomfortable seat just for 5 hours.
      Trans-siberian, now that would be great! I don’t have very much on the bucket list, but Mongolia/Siberia is one of the few. I’m glad to give you some travel inspiration – there’s an exciting post coming soon about traveling around North Greenland 🙂
      Cheers,
      Sarah

  3. I came across your blog while researching the Arctic Circle Trail and this post really resonates with me. I have just completed a thru-hike of the Scandinavian mountain range and yes, it was a transformational experience. Not sure how yet, and not sure what do to with this new me so I am looking for anther adventure to take the transformation one step further! Or perhaps this IS the transformation – the inability to cope with normal life in a normal office!

    • Kari,
      Thank you for the comment and readership! A thru-hike in Scandinavia sounds amazing – I could absolutely imagine how it could give you new perspective and change you a bit. I’m glad you found my blog – hopefully you have also found information on http://www.greenland.com about the Arctic Circle Trail that is also helpful. Best of luck to you while you plan your next adventure, and I hope you make it to Greenland!!
      – Sarah

  4. Hi, Sarah, An eloquent posting, giving one much to think about. I’m looking forward to your upcoming post on north Greenland. The farthest north I’ve been is Savissivik, farthest south is Sisimiut. I’m hoping to find a way to the eastern side at some point

    • Robin,

      Thank you very much!

      I’m still plugging away at the North Greenland bit. There’s soooo much to include – we sailed from place to place to place to place for 6 days and did basically everything there was possible to experience!

      Amazing to have been to Savissivik! If you liked Savissivik I think you would also feel at home in the east. They are very similar in terms of remoteness and heavy reliance on hunting and fishing, and the mountains are also very spectacular. I’d love to hear your stories from Savissivik!

      The Thule area is one of the few places in Greenland I have never been. I also miss northeast Greenland (Ittoqqortoormiit area). Otherwise, I’ve been everywhere from Uummannaq southward and over to Tasiilaq.

      Best,
      Sarah

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  7. Great post, I’ve been thinking of writing a similar post for a while.. and this has inspired me somewhat, we are all going through our own transformations whilst travelling.. I loved reading this!

    • Georgia, Thank you so much for the readership and the compliment! Travel is a fantastic thing!! Hope to one day get to travel to Greenland.
      Warmest regards, Sarah

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