Shake things up this year and really immerse yourself with one of these transformative travel trips that make a difference.
What’s Transformative Travel, Anyway?
Travel is there to inspire, to create, and to help build a better world. Bucket list journeys and week-long beach getaways are definitely needed from time to time, but there is a style of travel that more of us Canadians are looking for in 2020. Get to know this new trend that explores the deeper side of travel; a Transformative Trip.
Transformative travel is just that: it is meant to transform. It’s about getting your hands dirty and doing something that’s beyond yourself. Whether you take a week-long escape doing something completely off the grid or a two-month retreat on the other side of the world, you can choose the type of journey that’s right for you. Are you ready? Here are just a few things you can do as a transformative trip.
5 Trips That Make a Difference
Discover your spiritual self in the mountains, take some time for communities in need, and learn a new and helpful skill with these transformative travel experiences.
1. Volunteer at an animal rescue
It’s a transformative trip and a labour of love 🐾
Take responsible animal tourism to the next level and actually be a part of a community that helps save the local animals. You can volunteer for a week, or maybe stay a month or more, depending on the organization. This transformative trip blends slow travel and budget travel because you get to see a different side of a destination that you wouldn’t normally as a tourist!
Whether it’s cleaning dog and cat cages or helping the foundation build their online presence with social media, there is so much you can offer when volunteering at an animal rescue. The most important thing is that you come with an open mind and heart for the animals and the experience itself.
Recommended animal rescues around the world:
- Elephant Nature Park Dogs in Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Lanta Animal Welfare in Koh Lanta, Thailand
- You can even volunteer at the Toronto Humane Society
Important to note: It’s best practice to give your time and money to organizations that help improve the lives of the local animals. Dog and cat rescue centres are much better than some sloth or elephant sanctuaries abroad, because it’s quite sensitive to have loads of volunteers working with wild animals. Make sure the focus of the organization you join is education, rather than profit. Find out more about why wild animal selfies are bad.
2. Go WWOOFing
Transform as you get back to nature 🌲
Ever heard of WWOOFing? WWOOFing (stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is an international organic farming initiative that places participants in small farming projects to help heal the soil and grow organic food. WWOOFing has become a popular way for people to travel slow and travel cheaply. While you don’t get paid for your work at a project, participants do get free room and board.
A typical WWOOFing project involves a homestay with a local family, and you spend the day working on the land while enjoying the landscape and experience. This transformative trip allows you to get out and give back to Mother Nature, and you’ll feel the transformation happening organically (pun intended!). Some of the most popular countries for WWOOFing include New Zealand, the U.S., and Australia, but there are many projects across the globe.
Popular WWOOFing destinations:
- WWOOFing South Korea: There are over 60 work farms on the beautiful little peninsula of South Korea. Projects help raise awareness and make the most of the small amount of farming land they have!
- WWOOFing New Zealand: There’s no better way to experience the unparalleled nature of New Zealand than on a small organic farm.
- WWOFing Hawaii: The 50th state has recently become an eco-tourism trailblazer, banning things like unfriendly sunscreen and all the organic farming projects popping up everywhere. Get to know Hawaii on a personal level and join a WWOOFing project there. Aloha!
“Still round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
3. Sign up for a meditation retreat 🧘🏽
Practice one of the most ancient and universal forms of personal transformation
Dive into the deep with a vacation that’s centred around a meditation retreat. There’s no better way to “find yourself” than to sit in silence with your soul for hours on end. Just like the other transformative travel ideas mentioned here, you always have the option to choose a style of trip that works for you. Lots of meditation retreats around the world are simple and affordable, so don’t be intimated!
If you want to focus on a more classic style of meditation like Vipassana, this website is a great resource to find meditation retreats around the world.
- Ontario Vipassana Centre: Study one of the oldest styles of meditation right here in Canada. Just an hour from Toronto, the Ontario Vipassana Centre offers a transformative 10-day course for beginners and teachers alike.
- Holy Isle, Scotland: Who knew you could join a meditation retreat in Scotland? The Holy Isle Centre for World Peace and Health on the west coast of Scotland offers recommended seasonal meditation retreats. They even have a volunteer program.
- New Life Foundation, Chiang Rai: You can find all kinds of spiritual retreats from yoga, dance, meditation, and mindfulness at the New Life Foundation in this beautiful city in northern Thailand.
4. Hike a mountain ⛰️
Transformative travel with epic views along the way
There’s nothing like working your body and your mind on a long hike, right? This transformative travel experience is a classic one. You can join a tour, go solo (just be prepared), or bring your closest friends to conquer new heights; choose a style of hiking that’s right for you!
There are so many hikes around the world that give you a sense of JOMO and allow you to re-connect. Look into one of these destinations that provide lots of transformation, and gorgeous scenery along the way:
- Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland: Explore more of Canada on this unforgettable hike in Gros Morne National Park. This 35 km pilgrimage will surely transform.
- Annapurna Circuit in Nepal: Head to the mother of all hiking destinations in Nepal! While it’s not exactly Everest, the Annapurna Circuit is one of the most picturesque hikes in the world. Spend three weeks away from it all, and amongst the clouds.
- Camino de Santiago: The classic transformative hike and pilgrimage route, Camino de Santiago in Spain can take about a month to do, and you’ll be a changed person at the end of it.
5. Try an immersive cooking course 🍲
Learn from the experts and immerse yourself in the local culture
For transformative travel in a mobile world, there’s no better way to get to know a local culture than through food. From cooking courses to faraway destinations like Morocco, France, and even Iceland, this type of transformative trip allows you to learn from the locals and empower them along the way. Sharing stories, experimenting with new ingredients, and enjoying a communal meal with newfound friends – what’s not to love?
Recommended cooking courses around the world:
- Amal NonProfit in Marrakesh, Morocco: Run by the Amal Center, this non-profit gives disadvantaged local women the chance to learn new practical skills at this school, free of charge. All profits from the cooking courses go to the training school.
- The Cook’s Atelier in Beaune, France: Join other immersive travellers at this family-run cooking school in the French countryside.
More Transformative Travel Resources
This website is a great resource if you’re looking for more trips that allow you to give back to the community. If you’re looking at volunteer projects for a transformative trip, it’s so important to do lots of research beforehand. There are lots of issues when it comes to “voluntourism”, where we’ve been warned to avoid volunteering in orphanages (many kids still have parents) and getting involved in projects with young children if we’re untrained and only staying for a short period of time.
Remember that it’s never a good sign if you have to pay a big fee from a big fancy-looking website if you want to find a volunteer project abroad. Most organic volunteer projects involve simple tasks (unless you’re a specialist) and they work with the local community, not against them. Try and not get scammed, as this will scam you and the ones you’re trying to help. However, it is very possible to have a positive experience with a volunteer project, where your travel dollars and time can go a long way! Blue Yonder is a good one.
Where to next? Start your transformative (or sunny) adventures below, by searching for flight deals to anywhere in the world. 👇🏽👇🏽