Transformative Travel

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transfomative travel

David Gilmour (the entrepreneur who founded FIJI Water; not the Pink Floyd musician), was asked “Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership: MBA school or on the job?” by Monocle Magazine.

He chose neither.

His answer:

“Travel. How can you be knowledgeable on any subject if you aren’t well traveled?”

Blogger John Shadel  comments on this answer:

As someone who has spent several years living abroad–volunteering, studying and traveling–I can certainly attest to the incredibly educational experience of world traveling.

There’s nothing that teaches you to make quick decisions quite like being lost in a city you don’t know, whose culture is foreign to your own. Nothing improves your communication skills more than trying to effectively get directions from someone who doesn’t know a word of English. Nothing can help you discover your truest passions like traveling alone. Nothing can foster a sense of empathy like traveling with a friend. And, again, nothing can test your limits like traveling with that same friend!

The point to be made here is that few things teach you about your life and your interactions with other people like getting lost in a foreign land.

I don’t mean being a tourist; I mean fully-immersing yourself in your surroundings: losing yourself in the winding streets of Old Town Jerusalem, climbing the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, touring France and trying not to speak English (tough!), hiking alone through the Alps, teaching sanitation in rural Uganda, and watching the firework-colors of a Greek sunset.

These things aren’t just pleasures; they teach you about yourself and your place in a world much bigger than the confines of the halls of academia or a narrow job description.

The kind of education world travel affords is certainly worth the investment. I didn’t travel broadly until I had reached the age of fifty, If I could do it all again I would travel more. Much more.

Our Scouts can experience the challenges of getting out of familiar territory and “getting lost in a foreign land” even if they don’t travel more than an hour or two away from home.

What makes travel transformative?

Transformative travel is not the distance we travel but how we travel, and what we do when we get there.

Travelers can cruise around the world with people much like themselves. It’s less likely they will have a transformative experience if they are herded around to “see the sights” without ever stepping outside a comfortable bubble of familiarity.

Transformation comes from challenging yourself to take on unfamiliar territory.

Our job, as Scouters, is shaping transformative adventures that require Scouts to step out of the “bubble of the familiar”  into unfamiliar territory.

This kind of adventure can happen in our own back yard if we understand the aim isn’t covering physical distances or checking off a list of interesting places and experiences, but challenging hearts and minds.

Transformative travel is about things that seem insignificant, but are crucial to challenging our Scouts:

  • Figuring out what you need to bring to survive in some level of comfort (and packing it yourself).
  • Choosing, carrying, and cooking your own food.
  • Exploring, rather than being guided through, a new place.
  • Trying something you’ve never tried before.
  • Setting your own pace, and working cooperatively with a group.
  • Being prepared to meet changing conditions.

The aim of our travels is so much more than smooth logistics, or guided tours of interesting places.

Our Scout’s hearts and minds travel vast distances when they challenge themselves to find their own way.

Transformative travel takes us to a world-class destination equal to, or better than any place on a map.