You have the option to add the Transformational Travel Journal to your retreat package, but is it worth it?

Going on a retreat differs from a regular vacation in many ways, from your reason to going, to who you travel with, to what you do with your time. One of the key elements to all of our retreats is time for reflection, whether in the form of a sharing circle with the group, or personal journaling. Whether shared out loud or silently written on a page, this process can reveal insights and feelings that may have otherwise remain buried in all the busy-ness that travel can be.

Taking advantage of these reflective activities increases your potential for having a truly  transformational travel experience. What you "transform" is up to you. While our retreat leaders guide through several mindful exercises on and off the trail, their effects on your running style, attitude and mindset are all up to you. For this reason, we encourage you to keep a journal in which you make note of what you're experiencing at each stage of your journey.

"Journaling been the backbone of my life in that it provides support and strength," says retreat leader Janet Curl. "Even dashing off a few paragraphs, like running a few miles, helps me to feel whole and strong. It’s therapy for my mind, body and soul."

Retreat leader Liz Arnold shares: "Sometimes people, experiences, or even existential dilemmas get stuck in my system. Journaling with the purpose of digesting and then either integrating what serves me or letting go of what doesn't is such a meaningful way of processing experiences."

With the belief that journaling can deeply enhance the retreat experience, we have made available the Transformational Travel Journal, developed in partnership with the Transformational Travel Council, an organization of travel industry leaders committed to the design and delivery of travel experiences that offer lasting, positive impact on people and places.

Here's how to use your Transformational Travel Journal (available to buy here) to deepen your retreat experience and creating lasting change in your life, long after the retreat has ended.

FOLLOW THE P.A.T.H


Part 1: Prepare

The real journey begins before you leave home, so it's never too early to preparing your mindset as well as your packing list. In the weeks leading up to your retreat, take a little time to read through part one (starting on page 25) and learning about what it means to Travel with H.E.A.R.T.

After registering for a retreat, Run Wild Retreats sends travelers a brief video called Travel with H.E.A.R.T. which describes five key traits that retreat guests should become aware of prior to the retreat. The Transformational Travel Journal features writing prompts around each trait (humble, engaged, awake, resilient, thankful) to help the traveler build awareness of how you currently express each trait, which ones resonate most and which you'd like to cultivate.

"I feel a shift when practicing this kind of journaling. There is a different tone to the day; almost like looking through a fresh new lens where I feel softer and kinder, and where I appreciate life in a new way," says Charlotte Roennau, Director of Mindful Leadership and Guest Transformation.

The Travel with H.E.A.R.T. traits are specifically chosen because of how they will specifically prepare you for things you may encounter during your retreat that are challenging, confronting and maybe even a little uncomfortable. So knowing to expect these feelings is the best way to show up prepared and positive.

"For me, journaling is how I get to best know and understand self. I write without guidelines or rules and set no limitations. I attempt to document my thoughts with the upmost freedoms and vulnerabilities. When the spoken word is too harsh or when there are simply no verbal words for explanation, I turn to my journal for the beginning path of understanding."

Liz Arnold ‧ Retreat Leader

Part 2 -  During the Adventure

Once your retreat begins, journaling  periodically can help you assuage any nervousness or self doubt or other unfamiliar feelings that may arise when you first arrive to an new country or culture or place. 

This section of the Transformational Travel Journal (starting on page 45) includes writing prompts designed to help you be present with what you're experiencing, and uncover deeper layers of meaning from how you interact with new people and situations. The important thing to remember here is that transformational travel isn't just about doing fun adventures and having new experiences; it's also about truly understanding what those experiences mean to you.

In your journal, you can be completely honest about your travel experience, expressing what about it you find challenging as well as rewarding. This process helps you apply the mindfulness principles you're learning about to work through all the feelings that may arise and process them in a compassionate and insightful way.

Part 3 - Think After you Return Home

Returning home after a really profound trip can be jarring, so ideally you find time and space to reflect on what you did, learned, achieved and experienced. This section of the journal (starting on page 161), helps you uncover deeper layers of insight to nurture a fuller appreciation of your experiences through mindfulness and contemplation. 

This can be especially helpful if there were moments or aspects of your trip that didn't meet your expectations or challenged you physically or mentally in a way you hadn't expected.

"I've found journaling helps me re-wire my brain and initiate an upward shift of my nervous system, says Roennau. "Studies have found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and lights up parts of the brain's reward pathways and the hypothalamus. Gratitude journaling can boost the neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine."

Part 4  -  Honor How You've Transformed

Living a mindful life isn't just about being a happier, less stressed person. When you feel confident in who you are, your values and your purpose, you're more empowered to have a deeper impact on the world around you. This final stage of transformational travel is about creating positive change in the world by taking action based on your new understandings, connections and perspectives.

This may sound like a lofty mission, so thankfully the Transformational Travel Journal (starting on page 179) provides a starting point for truly honoring your experiences and newfound confidence and clarity around who you are and what you're here to do. By this point in your process, you understand that travel is a privilege, and one you take seriously. Because you care so much about the culture and places you interact with, you are inspired to honor the effects of your travels on these destinations, environments and people in a way that reflects your values. 

"Transformation doesn't always happen on the actual retreat, but small shifts during a retreat can lead to bigger transformations or life-changing events when you return home."

Charlotte Roennau ‧ Director of Mindful Leadership and Guest Transformation

 What's Inside the Transformational Travel Journal

The 220-page journal is a guide to discovering the full potential of a traveler’s journey by helping them harness the power of travel to create personal growth and make a positive impact in the world. The guide is presented as a journal, a travel companion in which to capture thoughts, ideas, and memories, and to create your story.

This unique journal, based on rigorous multi-disciplinary study, is designed to empower travelers with tools and practices that cultivate more meaningful travel. Based on ancient wisdom, mythology, and contemporary science, it is more than a journal; it is an insightful guide to exploring the world, and your own backyard, more mindfully.

You'll be guided into a deeper connection with yourself, your fellow travelers and with others. Discover the time and space to reflect on experiences, meaning-make, and foster a more intentional, virtuous, and heart-centric life that contributes to a more ethical, empathetic, equitable and ecological world. Order your copy here!

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