The cliché scene of an office worker sitting at his desk and daydreaming of sipping cocktails on a tropical beach is one we’re all acquainted with and probably have experienced on our own. But actually, although it might sound tempting when you’re sitting at your desk, don’t you think you’d get bored of something like that after three days?
The travel industry has changed, and we’re now seeing a rise in something called “transformative travel”. People are not looking to check into resorts and mentally switch off, sipping on cocktails endlessly; more than ever before, travelers aim to use their vacation to shift their perspective, to learn and to reconnect – with their inner selves, with nature, with humanity. If you’re looking for a life-changing experience and a contemplative vacation, here are some trips that are bound to freshen up your body and mind in ways you might not have expected.
The great thing about eco-friendly travel, apart from getting to see the mindblowing natural beauty of the world, is the fact that it entails responsible tourism. As a responsible tourist staying at some of the top eco-friendly destinations, you will be contributing to the environment, because the budget for preserving the natural habitat usually comes from tourism. It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with nature, see the wonders of the world, practice environmental awareness, and participate in sustainable tourism. A favorite destination is Costa Rica, which is one-fourth rainforest, as it offers breathtaking experiences in formidably preserved natural habitats. There are also plenty of options for eco-minded accommodations. You’ll be sure to leave refreshed, humbled by natural beauty, and happy to have participated in meaningful travel.
It’s officially a word, as more and more people are choosing vacations that will get them involved and volunteer in various destinations. Why opt for a volunteering trip that you also have to pay? –Out of compassion, awareness, and a desire to immerse yourself in a new culture. People mostly go on these trips because they want to make a difference; they want to feel like they’re contributing positively as citizens of the world, and this type of travel is utmost rewarding.
A company called DiscoverCorps recruits volunteers to help revitalize a neighborhood outside Old Havana, Cuba. It’s an opportunity to explore Cuba and to work toward a common goal in a close community. Companies like Holidays for Humanity and GoVoluntouring help you search destinations and programs to find the right volunteering experience. You might be interested in wildlife conservation, habit restoration, skills exchange, education, community development, or youth empowerment. Depending on your skillset and your physical endurance, you’ll be sure to find something that will prove to be a meaningful, rewarding experience.
The level of expertise doesn’t have to be relevant at all. Yoga travel is increasingly popular (as the popularity of yoga rises, logically) but it is not only seasoned yogis who get to participate in yoga retreats. If you’re interested in yogi practices and a completely new experience, a yoga vacation could be just what you’re looking for – there are various programs that offer opportunities to learn the art, grow, and refresh your body and soul. Yoga retreats are organized by various teachers and organizations across the globe, and they’re a great opportunity to feel a sense of community on your vacation. Many Bali resorts often offer yoga classes and spaces for meditation, as it’s an island popular among those looking for healthy, enlightened vacationing. Considering that the roots of this practice run deep in India and Indonesia, they’re great destinations to find yourself if you’re just yoga-curious and want to learn – and perhaps come home with a completely new hobby.
Amidst the chaos of our everyday lives, admittedly, we all need a spiritual jolt – something to wake us up and open us to the world and to ourselves. If you’re looking to escape the white noise and banality of everyday life, to question the deeper meaning of the world and to take some time just to contemplate, there are destinations, and even planned vacations that offer just that. You might want to visit sacred Buddhist temples in Nepal and India or climb atop the biblical Mount Sinai in Egypt. You don’t have to be religious at all to feel the silent power and mystery of places that are sacred to a certain religion. A travel company called Sacred Earth Journeys offers spiritual vacations across the globe, from France to Peru. One of their most impressive pilgrimages is the boutique tour of Peru, where an Andean spiritual guide leads travelers across sacred sites and temples in Cusco, offering stories and wisdom. It sounds like one of those trips that help you truly discover your connection to the world – and to yourself.
When we observe our free time as an opportunity to learn and reconnect, we get much more from it. But when we take that mindset and spend our free time in a new place and new culture, the rewards multiply – spiritually, of course. So get out there and use your vacation as a time for introspection and action. You surely won’t regret it, and it’s a guarantee you’ll come home happier and healthier in every way.