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Finding Joy Through Transformative Travel

During the flight home after a trip, I am usually quiet and contemplative because a new me is being ushered back into a world that hasn't changed much. When I experience internal transformation, it can be a challenge to reconnect with a world that is nearly exactly as it was before the transformation. There is a sense of accountability that must be maintained after I return from a transformative journey. I can’t judge people or things the same way that I did before--especially without empathy for their circumstances. I can't treat myself the way that I had--I must now reckon with my full power and light. My mind will keep me in check by juxtaposing that tingly feeling of joy against the aching that I had once endured as I pursued dreams that weren't my own. The tingling of joy that I get on the road has led me to live a life full of travel.

Travel Looks Like Joy

Joy is what I experienced in November 2016 on the breezy beachfront in Juanchaco, a seaside fishing village on the Pacific coast of Colombia. I witnessed the black community come together to celebrate its blackness through song and dance. Through their performance I saw youth of that community acknowledge their identity, and assure the elders that their traditions would be carried forward. Oscillating between the foot of the stage and the outer perimeter of the crowd, I got a tingly feeling. Joy came over me as I witnessed love embodied through affirmation of one’s blackness in Latino culture. I had been searching for this experience for my entire adult life. I came to Colombia to find black people and witness the way that they live. My intention was to engage with black communities in a meaningful way--I just hadn’t figured out how until that night on the beach. The joy of meeting my new self through a celebration of others’ heritage left me deeply moved. I was transformed.

My transformation centered around how I viewed myself in this world. I had always questioned my purpose in the world and what value I could bring to it. After that travel experience, I was certain of my purpose and how I could contribute my value during this time on earth--and it was not dependent on anyone else’s idea of what success looked like. I had previously been bound by external metrics of success. On that beach I realized that my success meant true freedom and immersion in black culture, and investing in Afro-Latin communities through travel.

Transformation looks like joy. It is a reckoning with one's own power. It is often involuntary, and always challenging.

A Travel Intention

Recreational travel --traveling to get away from the rat-race, or relax can be beneficial. And it can also be limiting. Expanding one’s understanding of the power of travel, and the value that it can provide is key to encountering and creating a transformative travel experience. You must first decide what you want to get from travel--you must first articulate a travel intention.

Transformative travel requires an intention, and often requires significant efforts in planning. Transformative travel will not just happen. It requires the right environment, open mindedness, and the will to be moved. If all-inclusive resorts allow you to be carefree and relaxed, then transformative travel requires you to be intentional and aware.

The key to experiencing transformative travel is to set an intention. It is the “why” to the travel question. The travel question centers around the reason you travel...the type of return on investment that you’d like to see as a result of the money, time, and energy spent traveling (and preparing to travel). The answer to this why will impact the places you go, the people you seek out, and the ways that you engage with a specific destination. And through these engagements, you will have experiences that have the potential to change you--If you are ready to be changed.

5 Steps to Engage in Transformative Travel

  1. Determine the things that provide joy for you and how you might encounter them through travel. Set an intention.

  2. Maintain a willing heart/mind/spirit that enters travel experiences with openness

  3. Let AfroBuenaventura curate a transformative travel experience for you


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