Spiritual Vacations

Four types of spiritual vacations — which one is right for you?

Researchers speculate that the surge in spiritual tourism involves several factors, ranging from our skewed work-life balance to the current global popularity of Pope Francis. Bestselling books like Eat, Pray, Love and Wild can make spiritual tourism seem like a relatively new phenomenon, but as author Lori Erickson points out, “People have been making treks to holy sites for millennia — in fact, these types of locations are probably the oldest form of tourism.”

The stereotype of the seeker-traveler is the unencumbered college student who’s trying to “find himself.” But people of all ages and all walks of life seek meaningful experiences for many reasons: a longing to reconnect to the Big Questions in life, as a response to dramatic life changes (grief, loss, milestone celebrations, overcoming adversity), or simply out of genuine curiosity and devotion. Whatever the varied motivations, over 300 million people will visit the major religious sites each year (this year being an exception), and a quarter of all Americans say they’d like to plan a faith-centered trip. Even if you don’t consider yourself a religious person, there are many ways to approach this type of travel, depending on what you’re interested in. Here are four ways to consider planning your spirit-nourishing trip.

1. Person-centered journeys. While this type of trip might be more common for people who practice a specific religion, it can also be centered around people you’ve deeply admired, are curious about, or who’ve had a profound impact on your life. It’s a wonderful way to connect with the history and cultural context of people in religious history, and to connect with the real stories of spiritual figures.  Examples: Visiting places of significance to Jesus, the Buddha, Rumi, Mother Theresa, or St. Francis. Or picking a theme, like your favorite women in religious history, or the hometowns of your favorite saints. Where: The Holy Land, Montenegro, India, Turkey, Italy and more.

2. Location-centered journeys. There are certain places that in and of themselves are thought to be spiritual. This can be connected to their histories — specific events such as Oberammergau’s nearly four-centuries-old Passion Play, certain people or groups of people that lived there — but it also can be the surrounding landscape or the breathtaking architecture in that location. Sometimes places are considered spiritually “charged” because of the presence of certain magnetic or energetic fields in the area (this is common in deserts). Examples: a holy temple, synagogue, mosque, or chapel; energetic vortexes in deserts; mountaintop monasteries. Where: Rishikesh, India; Sedona, AZ; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Mt. Shasta, CA; The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey; Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock), Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

3. Activity-centered journeys. Maybe you’ve been practicing yoga for several years and want to learn more in an intensive course. Maybe you’re looking to deepen your meditative practice. Maybe you’re searching for ways to give back, to have your travel also be an act of service to others. There are many places that offer a wide variety of ways to nourish your spirit by engaging in activities that are meaningful to you and to others. You can even be a monk for a month — a cultural and spiritual immersion program in Nepal, Cambodia, or India — if that’s something you’re interested in trying. Examples: Yoga intensives; silent retreats; voluntourism with a reputable organization; writing, art, or music retreats. Where: yoga centers around the globe; Taize in Burgundy, France; Nepal; Thailand; Cambodia; South Korea; India; meditation centers in the US and globally; anywhere where trusted organizations operate and organize volunteer opportunities.

4. The-journey-is-the-destination journeys. The poet Gary Snyder said, “Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind.” Perhaps there’s no better evidence for this than the ancient tradition of taking a walking pilgrimage. Sometimes silent and often lasting for days or even weeks, these journeys provide the unique opportunity to still the mind and spirit, to be in nature, to take a much-needed break from screen time, to challenge the body, and to experience the warm hospitality of strangers along the way. For the devout and non-religious alike, pilgrimages often prove to be powerfully transformative undertakings. Where: El Camino de Santiago, Spain; Char Dham, India; Kumano Ancient Trail, Japan; Machu Pichu, Peru.

Given the frenetic and frantic pace of modern life — and how easy it is to feel disconnected from the things that matter most to us — a vacation that is truly a retreat might be the exact thing you need right now. If you’re feeling the urge to reconnect with a part of yourself that’s essential and meaningful, but that sometimes gets lost in the busyness of daily living, I’d love to help design your spirit-centered journey. Contact me today!

xo, Jenny

Plan Now, Travel Later

Where are you dreaming of going?

Having to stay home during the pandemic isn’t easy for anyone. Even if you are taking advantage of the slowed pace, or are finding unexpected joy in the quiet — this time can still be a time of restlessness, uncertainty, and anxiety. You probably know someone (maybe yourself!) who had to cancel a destination wedding, a summer vacation, or a trip they’d been anticipating for months or even years. 

If you’re someone who loves to travel, restricted movement can feel especially discouraging. Travel isn’t just about going places. It’s about the entire experience, the anticipation, the joy, about who you are and who you become when you visit someplace new. 

There can be a real sorrow in the letting go, especially amidst so many other changes and unknowns. One thing I’ve heard a lot of people saying is, “I wish I hadn’t put off taking that trip I always wanted to take.

But believe it or not, now is a great time to be planning your post-Corona-celebration trip. 

There are a few reasons that this downtime is the ideal time to give me a call and get started planning your vacation of a lifetime. 

1. The travel restrictions won’t last forever. I know it can feel like it when you’re staring down weeks or months of having your biggest excursions be to the grocery store! But this is an event with an end. Beginning to dream and plan now can be a wonderful way to nurture hope and excitement, and to keep your mind focused on all the good things that will be possible again.

2. There are many deals to be had. All around the world, resorts and venues and restaurants and parks are just as eager to have you return as you are to get out into the world again. They want you to visit, and they are ready to offer incredible deals. As your agent, I have access to discounts and VIP perks that these businesses are waiting to offer.

3. It’s easy to build in travel protections when you book. You don’t have to worry about losing money if something comes up. Many airlines and resorts are offering penalty-free cancellations or adjustments. They know these are unusual times, and they want to be as flexible as possible. Remember: they want your business! Travel protection insurance offers additional peace of mind.

4. Perhaps begin closer to home. We may be a bit hesitant to circle the globe for a while. There are so many amazing destinations near you to enjoy! National Parks, river cruises and significant sights abound in many countries. Some of the best National Parks in the world are located right here in the U.S.! Destinations of breathtaking natural beauty, a number of them feature fascinating cultural significance. Cruise along one of many U.S. rivers in luxury onboard charming paddle-wheelers, reveling in captivating history and incredible scenery along the journey.

One of the many amazing gifts of traveling is that it teaches us resilience, curiosity, and how to find joy in the little things. 

Wherever you are right now, I encourage you to embrace this moment and start dreaming of your next adventure. When we emerge again, imagine the new appreciation we’ll have for things like bustling cafes, sunlit beaches, and just being able to interact face to face again. There are so many beautiful things ahead. When you’re ready to get started, you can find me here. I can’t wait to chat with you about future adventures!