‘Transformative travel’ may sound a little airy-fairy but it looks set to resonate with the masses in our non-stop, digital world.
Tipped to be one of the hottest trends of the year by industry experts and not dissimilar to experimental travel, people still want to discover off-the-beaten track destinations but they now want to get more out of them.
The concept of transformative travel is essentially about finding experiences through trips that will shift your perspective and allow you to connect with local communities, nature and yourself. It’s about coming back from a trip informed, refreshed and enlightened.
Whether you’d like to do something philanthropic, adventurous or finally harness the teachings of wellness - there is no shortage of incredible holidays that’ll give you more than just a healthy glow at the end. You can combine a few days of focus with lounging or embark on an entire trip dedicated to transformation - the choice is all yours..
Drop off the radar
Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa is located on a bluff in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in one of the most remote parts of Patagonia. The building is ultra-contemporary and looks made for Instagram but somehow its architecture merges seamlessly into the surrounding scenery.
With a huge focus on both mental and physical wellness in conjunction with constant interaction with the remote environment, it’s the ultimate digital detox. There is no wifi or TV. With a large menu of mind and body treatments, it’s perhaps the combination of space, nature and remoteness that really allows guests to reconnect with themselves.
Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
If one of your goals for 2018 is to give back, booking a holiday and helping a reforestation project in Central America is a pretty great way to do it.
Global Visionaries, a Guatemalan charity, allows visitors to come and help with their efforts.
The country's green season (aka rainy season) is between May and October where the trees are planted, but head out between late October and end of April and you’ll have the chance to work on the already reforested land, ensuring the planted trees are in the best condition to survive and to assist reducing the risk of forest fires.
Not only does this experience give you the chance to learn first-hand about the landscape and vegetation of the country, you’ll also get to interact with the local community in way that’s virtually impossible on an average holiday.
The project is based in Antigua, meaning there is no shortage of places to stay. Book the colonial mansion, Posada del Angel, the 12-room boutique hotel, Meson Panza Verde, or the traditional Guatemalan hotel, El Convento.
Go back to basics
Situated in Sweden’s beautiful lake country, Dalsland, glass cabins sit surrounded by nothing but countryside.
A different kind of off-the-grid experience, on arrival, guests are served ‘fika’ - coffee, tea and cakes - and then provided with an introduction on how exactly to destress. You’ll receive a map of the island and a full use of ‘Paviljongen’ – a service house with kitchen, bathroom and a lockable space which can be accessed throughout the entire stay. You’ll also receive items including a solar battery charger, torch, sleeping bag and eye mask. There's nothing materialistic about this.
Situated in India’s far north and perched at over 3,500m, Ladakh is often referred to as 'Little Tibet' and is home to one of the best preserved Tantric Buddhist societies in existence. Rugged snow-capped mountains and deep turquoise lakes dot this high-altitude desert making it one of the most scenic and otherworldly places on earth.
Designed as an alternative to traditional spa treatments and based in this area, The Shakti Walking experience is all about reconnecting with nature and slowing down through walking. With no motorised transport, no rush, no phone signal and only having to travel at the speed of your own two feet, this trip is the perfect antidote to the hectic reality of day-to-day life. Each itinerary is tailor made so that you can chose the distance and length of your trip - everything is on your time.
Relax with a conscience
Situated in Kep Sur Mer - the coastal destination was once the playground of the Cambodian jet-set and French colonialists but only now is being rediscovered as a holiday hot-spot.
The boutique hotel has all the luxury you’d like - a beach front location, a sprawling swimming pool, pillowy beds and round-the-clock service but at the heart of the business is sustainability and giving back to the community.
The hotel is actually the first in Cambodia to be recognised as internationally sustainable and they work together with the locals to nurture home grown talent. Today there is a sustainability manager employed full-time making sure the hotel is as eco-friendly as possible and every single one of he 92 members of staff are locally based. If you want to do something for another community but at the same time relax in a luxurious paradise, Knai Bang Chatt is a no-brainer - three percent of each room rental fee is reintroduced straight back into the community.