Do Something That Scares You.

Do Something that Scares You is the third step in my Five Steps to Transformational Travel and I don’t mean taking silly or dangerous risks that might void your travel insurance policy but I do mean challenging yourself and going beyond your comfort zone.

When you were young, you did lots of things that had a sense of fear – riding your bike down a steep hill, climbing to the top of the tree, jumping off the cliff into the water, etc.  But as we age we get more cautious and inhibited but travel provides us with wonderful opportunities to embrace fear and say “thanks for having me, I’ll come again.”  Because as you know fear is most often the precursor to a wonderful thrilling adventure! So here is an example of doing something that scared me during my travels just to get you thinking.

I love the water but grew up swimming & boating on freshwater lakes and the ocean has always frightened me a bit with the sheer power of its waves and the undercurrents.  Plus I still have reoccurring dreams from seeing the movie, “Jaws” when I was 11 years old.   So when I got to Maui, the one thing I decided I needed to do was challenge that fear and learn to surf – what could be more empowering than riding the wave that scared me!

I found the Nancy Emerson School of Surfing, signed up for a weeklong surfing course and met my “Surf God” – not blond, buff and chiseled but bald, wiry and short.  As he pushed me into a small wave, I worried that I’d get caught in the churning water.  In reality, I got a head dunking and some very clean sinuses.  I could handle that.  My instructor said that every time he saw a wave rearing up, he still got scared, so he paddled.  “You have to trust your body” he told me.  So I borrowed his trust in the hope that I’d find my own.  It was humiliating to wipe out, but I stuck with it, trusting that I’d improve with practice.  (A benefit of age is that you care less about looking foolish and you know the value of persistence.)  Finally, I stood up, riding all the way to the beach.  Fear, it turned out was more of a coward than I had imagined.

While I will never be a “Gidget” on a surfboard, I learned during surf lessons in Maui that challenging yourself and doing something that scares you just might remind you of what you are truly capable of.  When I went back to Maui 5 years later with a group of girlfriends the first thing we did was sign up for some surf lessons and boy did we have an adventure of a lifetime – that’s a blog of its own!

In next week’s blog I will outline Step Four in my Five Steps to Transformational Travel but in the meantime I’d love to hear how you have been transformed by travel so leave me a comment or send an email.  Until then, get out there and be a traveller not a tourist.

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Talk to Strangers

Talk to Strangers is the second step in my Five Steps to Transformational Travel and I do realize that I am contradicting the advice your mother most likely gave you many years ago.  You see as someone once told me everything important began with a conversation with a stranger – including your very existence.  Because at one point, your parents were strangers and then one of them decided to talk to a stranger and look where that led – to you.

The wonderful thing about travelling is it gives you many built-in opportunities to talk with complete strangers.  You can ask a local for directions or for a recommendation to a good restaurant or hotel.  You can talk to your fellow travelers, the ones you meet on the plane, bus, at a restaurant or simply on the street (you can recognize them because they are usually asking locals for directions too).

When you strike up a conversation with a stranger you never know where it might lead you.  You won’t simply get “insider” information from a local but possibly an opportunity to participate in something unique.  I have a friend who started talking with their driver in India and before their trip was out they were attending his cousin’s wedding – they were part of a group of 300 guests at an amazing celebration complete with the groom arriving on a beautifully decorated elephant.  What a wonderful transformational experience.

I chatted up a fellow traveller on a trip to New Zealand back in 2004 and ending up making a lifelong friend.  Fiona and I have now travelled to Egypt, Botswana and Zambia together and each of these trips has had their transformational moments.   Plus I have a place to stay in London where she is from and now in Singapore where she is currently working – hmm, another excuse to visit there.  More importantly, I made an amazing friend who changed her start date at her new job in Singapore so she could be in Toronto (en route from London) for my wedding.  Now that’s a true friend and I wouldn’t have meet Fiona if I hadn’t talked to a stranger.

So ignore your mother’s advice and talk to strangers on your travels as you never know how they might transform your life.

In next week’s blog I will outline Step Three in my Five Steps to Transformational Travel but in the meantime I’d love to hear how you have been transformed by travel so leave me a comment or send an email.  Until then, get out there and be a traveller not a tourist.

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Step Outside of Yourself

Step Outside of Yourself is the first step in my Five Steps to Transformational Travel and I think it is the most exhilarating as well.  I like to consider this the traveler’s version of a “do over”.  I believe traveling is a way of taking flight from a life you may no longer be satisfied with.  It’s an opportunity to restart and reinvent, free from the expectations that your life at home has saddled you with.  You truly have the chance to step outside of yourself and be the person you want to be or have dreamed of being.

You see when you are in a new place or foreign country no one knows that you are the stressed-out executive or the stay at home Mom with 2 kids or the one who just got out of an unhappy relationship or …. you get the picture.  Being in a place where no one knows your past allows you to kick start your future and this is one of the ways travel can be so transformational.

When you are traveling, you have the chance to try out a new persona for a while and see how it fits. I’m not saying that you completely let go of who you are but you can make some significant modifications.  You can relax and think about a new, less stressful career or you can get back in touch with who you were before you became that mother or you can heal and move forward from that relationship that has ended.

And with time on your journey you can fine tune and adapt this new persona and maybe even become comfortable with this “new better you”.  Ideally by the end of your trip, you will have become comfortable enough that you are able to bring elements of the “new better you” home and if that is the case then you have been transformed by travel.

In next week’s blog I will outline Step Two in my Five Steps to Transformational Travel but in the meantime I’d love to hear how you have been transformed by travel so leave me a comment or send an email.  Until then, get out there and be a traveler not a tourist.

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What is Transformational Travel?

Transformational travel – what exactly do we mean by that?  “An outer discovery adventure, an inner journey for the soul” – I would like to suggest that this simple phrase describes what we call transformational travel.  I also believe this is the type of journey that most people are seeking.

Tourism has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, but more and more people are no longer satisfied with the mass-produced, one-size-fits-all packaged vacations offered by traditional travel agents. We are searching for a deeper, richer travel experience that will leave us feeling changed on a level that embodies more of an “inside-out” experience.

More people are traveling now than ever before. On any given day approximately 250 million people around the world are on the road, on a quest for new experience and knowledge. But more travelers are feeling drawn to visit places that seem to hold unique inspiration and an unexplainable magnetic attraction.

The actual destination is not as important as the desire to move deeper into the experience. A walk in the woods can be a powerful transformational experience if you begin with a commitment to being open to insight and revelation through focused intent. But sometimes we need to take ourselves completely “out of the box” of everything that is familiar to us in order to grow. Traveling within our own country can provide powerful experiences but we’re still on our “home turf,” still connected to that sense of familiarity about who we are. A travel experience that is completely devoid of the things that define our normal sense of self allows us to open to the unknown and unexpected.  Stripped of our “at-home” superficial identity, we are free to move into the fertile ground of more intimate relationship with ourselves.

But how do we prepare ourselves for this type of travel?  What are the steps we need to take to have this type of experience?  I will outline my Five Steps to Transformational Travel in my upcoming blogs so stay tuned but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories of transformational travel so please send them to me.

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It’s all about the journey

“Are you crazy?” and “You are so brave” were the two most common things I heard about my decision but I really don’t think I was either, I was simply not feeling satisfied with life.   Here I was a successful & well paid advertising executive at one of the top agencies in Canada with tons of friends, a great condo and I just knew this couldn’t be all there was.  So in 2004, at the age of 40, this single gal decided to quit her job and travel around the world – that was the decision that elicited the comments and changed my life.

Along my 6 month journey I traveled through Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Oceania and South America and along the way I discovered myself.  And you know what they were right – I was brave!  I dared myself to try something that “scared” me in each country I visited so I bungy jumped, I drove motorcycles, I rode an elephant, I scuba dived with sharks, I ate street food, I tracked rhino on foot, I climbed a mountain, I slept in a mud hut, I flew in a helicopter, I scaled a glacier, I navigated public transit, I learned to surf and I became friends with complete strangers.  I am sure I was also a bit crazy but you know what sometimes crazy is fun & educational.

My travel experience completely transformed me – I returned to Canada with lifelong friends, a new business and a renewed passion for life.  I believe that travel can change the world as it is through travel that we learn acceptance, gain humanity and experience childlike wonder.  I believe it is my mission in life to spread the gospel of travel and through my business I help my clients do the same.

Travel is truly transformational – so be a traveler not a tourist.

“Follow your own path and let people talk.” – Dante

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