Travel is an experience that can be truly transformative, and life-changing getaways can take you all over the world to see life from a different perspective to everyday stuff back home. Many times, travelers aren’t even aware their vacations have the capacity to become life-changing getaways, which is even more exciting when a perspective changes because they weren’t looking for anything beyond their expectations of the destination. You don’t need to make a conscious decision to change your life by embarking on a pilgrimage, or a round the world trip. Life-changing getaways come in all guises:
1 Southern France through the Eyes of the Artists
Art and literature are always a good basis for life-changing getaways and the south of France is a prime area. Tour in areas where Cezanne, van Gogh, Matisse, Braque and other famous artists found inspiration. Visit inspirational towns like Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Arles and San Tropez. The harbor at L’Estaque inspired painters such as Cezanne and Braque, located in Marseilles where cubism originated. Visit Cezanne’s apartment in Place de L’Eglise, where you can see the harbor and sailboats that inspired him as well as Dufy, Braque and Derain. Be sure to take in the museums displaying the works of Provençal artists.
2 Rio De Janeiro Volunteer Vacation
Offered through volunteer outfitters such as Hand Up, this trip of a lifetime mixes luxury, fun, and volunteerism. You get to stay in a nice hotel and participate in unexpected, off-the-beaten path activities like Portuguese architecture walks, hiking the wetlands at Marapendi and tours of the nightlife in Lapa. At the same time, you’ll be spending a few days helping people of the city’s favelas, or ghetto, where you’ll help paint street murals, teach English, art or soccer, or other activities that improve the lives of the people living in the favelas. And of course, you aren’t restricted to Rio or Brazil for that matter. Volunteer vacations are available all around the world.
3 Antarctica Vacation
Yes, you can go to Antarctica, the bottom of the world. Offered through People to People, Polar Cruises or Polar Explorers, this trip allows you to see icebergs close-up and sometimes catch seals sleeping on them, or visit a snowy beach where penguins may show fearless curiosity about you. Tour companies offer various options, including a simple flight to Antarctica, cruises, ski vacations and educational tours with a bevy of experts that teach you about various aspects of the Antarctic environment.
4 Meditating in India
There’s a reason why everyone from the Beatles to Alanis Morissette felt compelled to sing about their spiritual experiences in India. It has been one of the main places for life-changing getaways for decades. Ashrams have programs operated by spiritual leaders that teach you to cultivate inner peace and positive thinking. Once you learn this skill, it’s a useful ability to tap in stressful everyday life. Programs usually last from about a week to a month, and the schedule is fairly rigorous.
5 Borneo Jungle Reforestation
Primary forests are disappearing at an alarming rate in many countries, primarily due to the need for farmland and sometimes because of climate change. This trip of a lifetime will have you taking part in preserving what’s left of these forests in Borneo and replanting what’s already been lost. Offered by Earthwatch Institute’s Borneo program, you can join scientists and researchers deep into the Borneo forest to determine how it’s been impacted by mankind and perhaps participate in its rebuilding. These forests house some of the world’s most unique and endangered animals, such as pygmy elephants and clouded leopards.
6 Trekking in Bhutan
Bhutan, being the only Buddhist kingdom in the world, measures its success by its level of happiness rather than its economy. They’re also picky about who they let come into the country in order to prevent it from being spoiled by outsiders. If you’re allowed to visit, you’ll find a country nestled against the Himalayan mountains, spotted with stunning monasteries and people living much the same way as they’ve lived for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Myths and Mountains is a travel company that offers several different ways to visit Bhutan, including vintage motorcycle trips and volunteer/charitable trips. One popular trip involves high-altitude hiking, where guests occasionally stay in the homes of local villagers.
7 Ballooning in Turkey
The Cappadocia area of Turkey has some of the most unusual landscapes in the world, with rock towers jutting out from the earth (called “fairy chimneys”) and cities carved out of the ancient stones (tufa rock). Visitors are able to stay in cave hotels carved into the hills, as well as visit cave churches. Wander around Kaymakli, an underground city, and be sure to take a hot-air balloon ride that will take you gently over vineyards and villages.
8 Feel History in Jordan
There’s nothing like standing among ancient historical locations to make you really feel the stories you probably heard growing up. Jordan has a number of important religious sites and ruins. You can sit in the healing hot springs that have been in use since the time of King Herod, float in the mineral water of the Dead Sea, ride a camel over the same grounds as Lawrence of Arabia or explore the ruins at Petra. You can even sleep in a Bedouin tent.
9 The Galapagos Islands
While there are a number of companies that will take you there, some do it better than others. Land-based tours, such as those offered by companies like Southern Explorations, take you off the beaten path and into areas seldom explored by tourists. Get close to the animals of the island, like the seals, penguins, flamingos and giant tortoises, and enjoy fun outdoor sports like kayaking, snorkeling and hiking. You’re likely to meet animals you’ve never seen before.
Life-changing getaways start their transformative process even before they begin. These trips of a lifetime aren’t something we can afford at the drop of a hat so in planning them we learn patience, organization and even financial discipline. It’s a dream or a goal that we have to work to achieve. These are all good life lessons. Now we know why travel is called an experience! What would be your trip of a lifetime?