Why We Travel
The conversation surrounding why we travel and what happens along the way is no new concept. One motivation that has recently surfaced to the forefront of conversation across the travel industry is personal transformation – or as it’s commonly referred to, transformative travel. Just as we read stories to better understand and relate to the world we live in, travel helps us understand and orient ourselves as global citizens. It also allows us to discover new passions like renaissance architecture, cycling, or Piadina (a traditional Italian flat bread). We travel to return home slightly different than when we left.
But what makes travel transformative? When we pack our suitcases what are we hoping to return with? All of our socks? A good story? A greater understanding of what it means to be a global citizen? For many, beyond a comfortable bed and delicious food, the transformation is in the discovery. Be it internal, external, or both, travel often finds a way to surprise us, and open our eyes to things outside of our norm. It allows us to engage with new tastes, points of views, levels of discomfort, and causes us to pause and think about what that means to us. As Henry Miller eloquently puts it, “our destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”.
Each year ExperiencePlus! tour leaders gather in Forli, Italy (where our Italian office is located) for a multi-day summit. The summit is a time for our team of tour leaders to reconnect, engage in some peer-to-peer information exchange, and to fine-tune years of guiding skills. It is also a time when tour leaders get the familiar excitement of sharing the things they love about their countries with new groups of travelers.
During the summit, one of our group discussions revolved around what experiences/feelings we hope our travelers take away from their tour. We design all our tours with the intention of creating meaningful connections through bicycle travel. Meaningful connections can be found in many forms, be it in a new friendship, a powerful moment in a cathedral, or a deep sense of place while cycling a stunning road. Our routes and chalk arrow navigation system are intended to empower our travelers to be independent along their ride so they may explore in their own way. Our tour leaders are there to support travelers along the way and to help connect the dots between local cultures and different perspectives. They are passionate about their local traditions and sharing them with the rest of the world.
Transformation can happen on a small level such as discovering you really do enjoy a certain food combination, or on a larger level, such as overcoming a physical and mental barrier. “There is no way I can cycle 30K in a day” can transform into “who knew I would love cycling 45K in one day”. For ExperiencePlus! one of the great beauties of bicycle travel is that cycling allows you to have independent moments of transformation, and shared experiences around a meal at the end of the day.
The list of reasons why we (ExperiencePlus!) travel is long – to say the least, but sitting at the top of that list is the meaningful connections we make with our customers. It is sharing the places we love most with kind and curious travelers that continues to fuel our passion to pedal deeper into local cultures and create the best bicycle tours for our community.