What is Transformational Travel?

Over the last year, The Long Run has been exploring how it can help members to create, deliver, market and enhance transformational travel experiences. To be truly sustainable, we believe that travel needs to influence people beyond the length of their stay.


To support us on this journey, we’ve been working closely with The Transformational Travel Council who have now launched a kickstarter for a new journal written by expert Eric Rupp. Here we ask Eric what transformational travel means to him.  


I’ve been trying to describe, define, and justify my belief in transformational travel for about five years now. My answers to inquiries have changed, evolved, and grown but the question tends to stay the same: What makes a trip, a destination, an itinerary different enough to label it “transformational”?


Each one of us has our personal history and set of experiences that make us who we are. We carry with us a unique blend of interests, abilities, and desires. Our privileges and challenges affect our place in the world. With so many different factors at play, how could one safely sell any given experience as transformational?


I finally settled on a short answer: one can’t. So, what is transformational travel, and what makes it different? This question presumes that the transformational element is the property of an experience, an activity, or perhaps the destination and therefore transformational travel must be about somehow wrestling from those moments spent journeying some yet untapped power that will forever change us.


The truth is that transformation can never come from travel alone, so to find the answer we must first shift our perspective. The power of transformation lies within the traveller. 


Yes, travel may be the catalyst, the inspiration, and the vehicle. It can be incredibly beautiful, powerful, and magical. The places we go, the activities we do, the people we meet all matter and can have a deeply profound influence on us, but transformation is created from within. Travellers themselves create transformation. 


The personal boundaries we push, the connections we make along the way, and even the destination itself can influence the results, but for change and growth to be lasting and durable enough to be considered transformational, it cannot be the property of the trip, but of the traveller. A trip can inspire change, it can be transformative, meaning it has the power to change us, but we must do the transforming ourselves. 


Eric Rupp out in the field.

At the Transformational Travel Council, we define transformational travel as:


“Intentionally traveling to stretch, learn, and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world.


Transformational travel is not a noun, but a verb. It’s an action. A process. The missing element that often gets overlooked during the conversation is the traveler themselves. We have left the traveler out of the equation so often that we forget to even consider them when we talk about transformational travel. It’s time we start thinking about how travel can be used intentionally as a force for good in this world, and to achieve that we need travelers to be a responsible and active part of not just the experience but the outcomes and effects of that experience. 


To help bring about that lasting transformation that travel can inspire, we have created the “Transformational Travel Journal.” This journal leverages the lessons of a vast array of travelers and travel professionals alike to help you create that lasting transformation in your own life. Visit our Kickstarter now to get a discounted early release copy for yourself and travellers in your world.


This post was provided by Eric Rupp, Author, The Transformational Travel Journal in Collaboration with The Transformational Travel Council