Transformative Travel revolves around the self-reflection and self-discovery aspects of travel. It is how these experiences inspire people to make changes in their life, big or small. For some, these experiences are labeled “wellness tours" and incorporate therapy lessons, coaching, exercises, and other tools for self-development. Some are labeled “People to People” or “Voluntourism” that are geared towards assisting the less fortunate in other countries, but transformative travel can take place in ANY destination on ANY type of tour or vacation.
For us in the travel industry, we have a handful of these experiences to speak to. Keep reading for some of our staff member's own transformative travel experiences!
Susan Hakenjos (Vice President & General Manager)
"Visiting Hiroshima in Japan was a life changing moment for me. We (the U.S.) did this unspeakable act, not only once but TWICE to these people. We then visited the Peace Museum while walking side by side, in peace, with other visitors from Japan. These experiences were true reminders that a horrific act like this should NEVER happen again. I believe that all countries and world leaders should visit these places so that we truly never forget!"
Missi Wilson (Supervisor of Marketing)
“When I was seven years old I fell in love with Paris after my first grade class did a year-long class project about France. We studied French art, history, music and food. It became my mission in life to go to Paris and I practically put my whole life on hold until my dream came true in 2017. I even brought a book I made when I was seven years old about Claude Monet’s life with me and I proudly held it on Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge in Giverny. It was such a powerful, emotional and fulfilling experience that I hold so dear to my heart!”
Rachel Madigan (Travel Consultant)
"Traveling to Peru was a spiritual journey for me. It made me realize how different people, cultures, food, and lifestyles are in just the southern hemisphere alone. Even the stars were so beautiful and different! It truly made me realize how ancient and mysterious this world really is."
Ashley Curry (Senior Travel Consultant)
“Think about your ideal escape in your head as clearly as you can. Now, close your eyes and breathe in and out as calmly as you can 5 times. Isn’t it amazing how much clearer the picture becomes? How rested your heart feels? Next, think of how you feel when you watch the home run hit to clench the game and the high five you give to your friend shouting right next to you, the uproar of the crowd around you doing the same thing. How joyous you are and excited to be alive in that moment. Transformative travel offers these feelings and allows you to make changes so that you can feel them whenever and whenever you choose. I was lucky enough to experience a life-changing week in Canyon Ranch, AZ. I never knew how desperately I needed to make changes in my day to day to ease my mind, or give myself extra moments of happiness. It sounds extremely cliché to say that when you allow yourself to go to a place that makes your heart race with excitement or mind as clear as crystal and then come back craving those feelings at home. I went to Canyon Ranch hoping to get a better grip on ways to maintain my physical health. That worked wonderfully, but the surprise came when I discovered how much the trip impacted my spiritual and emotional health. When you allow a destination to open new windows in your head and heart, it’s amazing how much you’ll strive to keep them open when you get home.”
Maggie Groene (Travel Consultant)
"I never thought I would be brave enough to jump out of a plane, but while traveling in New Zealand, I went skydiving! It was not something I had planned on doing, but in the weeks leading up to our stop in Queenstown, the magic of travel took over and I was convinced that I could do it – because if not in the adventure capital of the world, then where?! While it was terrifying to free-fall at 12,000 ft, it was such an amazing experience that made me feel like I could conquer anything. Knowing that I made it through skydiving, I’m now open to taking new chances and fully experiencing what a destination has to offer!"
Christine Hakenjos (Travel Consultant)
"The transformative travel experience that I had was when I traveled with my Grandmother to Israel in January of 2018. This was a college graduation gift from my Grandmother and Israel was the furthest that I have ever traveled internationally. Of course, visiting such historic places like Jerusalem, The Temple Mount, The Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, and the Church of the Holy Sepulture was life changing and spiritual but the transformative experience I had didn’t happen until the very long flight home. I was listening to music while my Grandmother slept in the seat next to me and began thinking about all the history I had learned that past week and how there is SO much to see, learn and experience in this beautiful world we live in. I remember thinking that I wanted other people to experience the world like I just had. Travel has always been very important to me, but it was not until this trip that I realized travel was my true passion in life! This exact trip was when I decided that the travel industry was where I wanted to work. "
Janine Cartier (Senior Travel Consultant)
"India was one of the most eye opening countries I visited on all of my travels. The busyness of Mumbai was exciting but the poverty I witnessed when driving back to the ship at night was a moment of utter disbelief. Families sleeping on the street in rows and masses – it made me grateful for the things I have – but also made me wonder what I could be doing to help."
Jen Ramig (Travel Consultant)
"A trip that changed my life is for the active individual (it was tough but beautiful). I wrote this on the train leaving for Barcelona after this amazing hike with my brothers and sisters:
I'm sitting on the train heading to Barcelona. I am looking into the distance, wondering if I can see The Camino De Santiago that we just hiked. In Chile. I wonder if my fellow Peregrinos (pilgrims) are staring into the horizon thinking the same. Heavy tears fall down my cheeks, but why? Is it a release of something? The weight of my pack is no longer a struggle, but I still feel the weight on my back and shoulders. I think it is to remind me that, we carry so many burdens every day. My sore legs, ankles and feet remind me that I am stronger than I think. I walked with a heavy bag up a mountain, wow, I did that. My heavy heart makes me feel the love for my family, what I left on the Camino and the love I have waiting for me at home. The smell of my clothes is the remnants of the sweat and layers of dirt from the Camino. I want to keep walking, get questions answered and feel nothing but the pain of my muscles. The sound of my shoes on the gravel, walking the steps of past pilgrims and the beautiful countryside. Adios Camino, I will be back again.
Reading this still makes me cry and brings me right back. I plan on going back. I am not finished, it has forever changed me."
Click through the slideshow below to see more of Jen's photos from The Camino De Santiago hike in Chile.
Stacey Hoehne (Supervisor of Leisure Travel)
“In 2015 I quit my job and took off on a 4.5 month adventure in Southeast Asia with my best friend. I came home from this journey with my eyes opened to new cultures. When I returned back to the U.S., I knew that I wanted to have a job where I could travel more and encourage others to have similar experiences. This is what led me to Brentwood Travel!”
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Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 63 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.