At Your Travel Analyst, we completely support the philosophies of intentional travel. But does it mean we should discard the simplicity of feeling drawn to a place and wanting to satiate that desire to experience it for ourselves?
We often hear about setting intentions at the start of a brand-new year. In the context of meaningful or transformative travel, we often see messaging like: think about why you want to go and how you want to go there. Do the mental and emotional work in advance of choosing a destination.
Now, I’m not talking about the aspects of intentional travel that take into consideration the planet and the community of the place you’re visiting. Those are necessary factors to account for, but in this case, I’m talking about setting intentions for yourself, which we talk a lot about in the travel coaching space.
I thought about this on my recent spontaneous solo trip to San Francisco, a city I had been dreaming of visiting for years. I don’t know whether it was the nostalgia of childhood classics (any fellow millennial would recognize the iconic San Francisco views in That’s So Raven or The Princess Diaries) or the pastel-coloured houses set on rolling hills. All I knew was that I felt magnetically pulled to this whimsical place.
This desire to visit got me thinking: to what extent should we embrace intention-setting and at what point do we allow intuition to guide us? Is spontaneity a waste of our precious vacation time?
When we think about intentional travel, it is easy to feel a sense of pressure to set goals and meet expectations (self-imposed or otherwise). The framework of intention shouldn’t be rigid, but more so a guide or frame of reference to defer to when we need a little more clarity.
If intentional travel is meaningful travel, does not setting intentions make travel meaningless? Is there such a thing and if so, what does that look like?
In my efforts to make the most of my trip, I tried to dig deep into my reasons for going. Family and friends would ask me, “Why San Francisco?” and I tried to come up with some clear-cut, profound answer but nothing felt right:
“I’m partaking in some self-care after a tough season of grief I experienced back in August.”
“San Francisco has a cool coffee and food scene!”
“I’ve always wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.”
Ultimately, I decided to release the pressure to find my “why” and let the trip unfold. In doing so, the answers came to me in the peaceful, reflective silence that accompanies solo travel. Only after the trip was over did I realize what it did for me:
I needed to feel empowered again and remember all that I was capable of.
I needed a change of scenery.
I needed some time alone.
You’re probably thinking I could’ve gotten all of these for a fraction of the price at a hotel down the road, but there is something tranquil about aloneness in a place that is entirely foreign.
I don’t say any of this to romanticize travel. It is important to have your wits about you and recognize your impact wherever you go. What I’m saying is that sometimes in order to make the most of an experience, it is okay not to have it 100% mapped out, goals and all. This may feel counterintuitive, but the way in which travel can benefit us may sometimes only be recognized once the trip is over. Conveniently, this is also the point at which we need to draw upon what travel taught us as we move forward in our day-to-day lives.
So the next time you feel a longing to visit a certain place, embrace it, even if you can’t articulate why. Everything you need to learn from the experience will come to you.
Do you want to help your travelers have intentionally intuitive experiences? Check out our blog post "Six Game-Changing Questions Travel Agents Should Ask Their Clients". If you are looking for more insights on creating life-changing trips for your clients or meaningful products and services that align with your brand, let's connect: email@example.com.