Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Transformative travel is one of the latest trends in travel. There is also experiential travel and consciousness travel and bespoke, designer and curated travel. All of it stems from a desire to find authenticity and hopefully, the art of travel again. Whatever the marketing term, The desire to bring small travel to the "luxury" industry is a good thing for our world.
Transformation can come as a moment in time that is surprisingly small or can be a life-changing revelatory experience. There is, it seems, always a moment on a trip where the sunburn settles into a type of a tan and the linen shirt drapes better and work is a million miles away. Maybe it is the Mojito, but one would not be mistaken for feeling smarter, funnier and better off for being away. This is a transformation.
The ocean at low tide washes against the hard sand . the moonlight dances on the water and the woman I love looks resplendent in an off the shoulder dress.
In the morning I read the English version of the local paper, eating a simple baguette with dark yellow butter and tangy marmalade."why do we never have marmalade at home? Lets get marmalade when we get back," I say to noone in particular.
At home I go to World market and get the small version of marmalade. We use it once or twice. In the winter I like to be in my jammies at 6 pm but in Barcelona, we look at one-another at 10:00 pm, gnoshing on Pinchos, "Why do we eat sooooo early at home? lets eat later!" And we do! for a few days until the euphoria of jet lag wears off. but we loved the idea of this change and it would never have happened without travel.
When we travel we become who we aspire to be. We are more patient, we dream more. We decide to take up writing again. We pick up Gore Vidal and imagine our offices at home to be filled with New Yorker and Architectural Digest. We will wear chambray shirts with denim jeans and become more interesting and more interested. We will volunteer to save sea turtles and be nicer to our in-laws.
And then there are more lasting transformative moments that change who we are and how we look at the world. My two most transformative moments deal with the poles of our human-centric universe- the cosmos of the nigh-sky and the coral cosmos of the deep ocean.
I was 5 when my dad showed me the Milky Way. We laid on our backs in a sage field outside of Mammoth Lakes California. I saw pleiades and the big and little dipper. The Milky Way draped like a necklace through the middle of it all.
Later in life I would find myself as a Hut Warden in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand. One night I sat outside with the possum and the beech trees,looking north toward Lake Taupo. I saw the Southern Cross and a sky that was upside down and backward from what I had previously know. It blew my mind. It was the clearest most brilliant sky I had ever seen. This moment changed me forever.
The other moment that changed me forever was in Fiji. I entered the hot blue water of the Yasawa island chain off of Turtle Island, Fiji. I was immediately shocked by the amount and color of the coral and what looked like stars but were millions of brightly colored fish. There were Wrasse, and Surgeon fish, Clown fish and Tangs. The coral looked like gigantic purple and yellow brains. There were some that looked like antlers and others that fanned in the current. I had never seen or thought to see so many colors and shapes in one place.
Transformation through travel can be a simple change, remembering that brits call an eggplant an Aubergine, or intricate and everlasting, like learning about a religion or seeing a night sky completely reversed from anything you had ever seen. Travel, by virtue, transforms us. If more people went further for longer think about how our world would change.