Transformative tourism: a new way of traveling

(August 3, 2019)

It is often considered axiomatic that travel broadens the mind and, consequently, that traveling has an implicit educative benefit. Also, getting off the routine through a journey is seen as a way to escape from daily grind and get involved in much more exciting experiences. But does this approach fully encompass the conceptual dimension of travelling?
At a time when few go on vacation without having seen in detail what resembles housing and tourist sites, others wonder if that is what travel really is about. Is a ready-made traditional tourism package the answer to the future of travelling? Is following the mainstream the most appropriate way to approach to communities we don’t know about? When transformational tourism and disconnection appeal to new travellers, new opportunities arise for tourism stakeholders.

What is transformative tourism?

The transformative tourism is any travel experience that allows people to make significant and lasting changes in their lives, large or small. It can be defined this type of trip through this anagram: HERO. This acronym stands for:

“Travel with a Heart; seeking engagement; having the Resolve to work through challenges; and leaving your heart, mind, and soul Open to the unknown”.

Three key elements define transformative travel. The visitor must first feel connected, creating a link with his or her surrounding. Then, the trip must be personalized. It must correspond to the visitors’ needs and interests in every way. Finally, the trip must be authentic. Without special effects, without superfluous elements. It is up to the traveller to adapt it in order to live it in his or her own way.

The idea of transformative travel is taking over all segments of the industry and capturing the imagination of all kinds of travellers. Whether it is a silent retreat in a monastery to find peace with even a culinary trip, a trekkingexperience in the Himalayas but also an eco-safari that finds the right balance between the environment’s needs and the visitor’s wishes. All these trips can be considered as transformative travels in which experience comes first. In transformative tourism, what the visitor is looking for is an experience –whether it is or not– that will make an indelible impression. The essence of these experiences is to expand one’s perspective to encompass places, people and circumstances that previously seemed prohibitively alien.  Only in this way it is possible to say –without falling into vacuous clichés – that a journey defeats us, remakes us and, finally, reinvents us.