We all love to travel…who doesn’t? The time to relax, escape the mundane, experience the exotic, reconnect with loved ones… all of these things are important, but are we missing something? Is there a common denominator that can multiply our experiences into something that touches our hearts and changes our lives?
The piece that the majority of people miss out on is connection. A trip with this important link is what I call a Journey Beyond the Bucket List.
It’s the type of travel that doesn’t just rejuvenate us, but leaves us with a greater understanding and a deepened compassion for the world. It’s venturing beyond the resort to step into the real community. It’s tasting their food, dancing to their music, understanding their history, hearing their stories and appreciating their desires and needs.
Many people miss out on truly experiencing destinations because they fear the unknown and uncomfortable. After all, vacations are supposed to be more than comfortable right? So they fly to place “x”, stay at a chain hotel they are familiar with, take a tour of the attractions, do some shopping, lay by the pool/beach/ whatever and return home relaxed…yet slightly more sluggish than before they vacationed.
Some of these travelers may even decide to be a “voluntourist” while abroad, and with all good intentions, most likely will not make the slightest impact from their day or week of volunteer work. Why? Because they didn’t fully challenge themselves to understand the long-term needs before giving of their limited resources. They skimmed the top, leaving with only a sense of accomplishment for visiting the place and giving back, but without much real significance other than their heightened awareness.
The reality is – that it takes time to identify with the history, the culture, the nuances and the resulting needs of a place required to properly make a long-term impact. As an outsider, perhaps our best gift to foreign lands is first to understand it more clearly before choosing an action.
So what’s the best way to start?
It begins with shifting our mindset from traveling for self-repair to traveling for true discovery (no matter how pristine, dirty or quirky the place may be). With this courage, we can tear down the façade of cliché tourist traps and reach into the inner-depths of the destination.
As Miriam Beard once said,
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
I, myself haven’t fully achieved this. I am far from there, but I have tasted the new found energy and passion that can come as a result of this shift – and I want more!
As we embark on this Journey together – let’s challenge each other to become inspired by the stories shared here, educated about the organizations making a real long-term impact in those places, and equipped to plan epic adventures for ourselves as we go forward. Let’s get moving!
Here’s to our journey…beyond the bucket list,
Want a little more inspiration? Read my article: Three Experts Share How to Find the Courage to Take a Break from Work to Travel and Volunteer.Feature Photo Credit: Remains/iStock/Thinkstock