Expert’s Voice: Transformative travel – exploring a city while exploring yourself

by | Mar 15, 2019 | Experts

Taking a photo proves “I did that.” In contrast, transformative travel is for those looking for a journey within, writes Alexandra Beggs from HBA DNA

In 2019, transformative travel offerings will rise as travellers calibrate their personal fulfilment needs.

Over the last couple of years, the travel industry and luxury travel market as we knew it had a shakeup. First it was the design savvy guest, then it was authenticity. Instagram-ability continues to be a strong player and now, experiential travel is having its moment in the sun.

But the word “experiential” has spread so far into the travel ecosystem, that while it may still be desired by some, it’s accessibility by all has lost its edge and exclusivity, particularly to those in the travel market.

What is transformative travel?

A shift towards a new type of travel has emerged: transformative travel, which reprioritizes well-being and personal fulfilment. We explore what and why this type of travel is so sought after.

Perhaps it’s the result of hyper-connectivity in this digital age, or maybe we’re practicing more mindfulness before (a report by showed meditation practice jumped 14.2 percent from last year in the United States), whichever the reason, across generations, travellers are looking at travel through deeper lenses.

Around the world, travellers are looking to escape the daily bombardment of noise, unrest and hyperconnectivity. Technology including instant messaging, email and social media have changed the way people interact, and while the improvements to life are undeniable (imagine a world without Google Maps?!) increasing studies show by-products of stress and anxiety as a result of this notion to “always be connected.”

Is offline the new luxury?

The American Psychological Association reported “65 percent of Americans strongly agree that periodically ‘unplugging’ or taking a ‘digital detox’ was important for their mental health.” And while only “28% of those who agreed reported doing so,” these numbers have created an opportunity within the travel industry to be filled.

One trailblazer worth mentioning is La Granja, a farmhouse in Ibiza. Touted as ‘the other side of Ibiza’ La Granja offers disconnection and seeks to unwind its guests bringing them back to the here and now through rustic simplicity, focusing on “the cultivation of art, crops and inner gardens” along with a host of other de-stress rituals, whilst at the same time being a community and offering the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals.

Beyond Instagram-ability

Travellers are starting to look beyond a trip’s Instagram-ability, and instead make booking choices based on personal fulfilment. In March 2017, The Independent UK revealed that “40.1 percent of millennials” booked a travel experience based on Instagram-ability. But for some, this isn’t enough anymore.

And travellers are starting to do just that: travelling with intention and mindfulness, engaging in challenging physical or cultural experiences and taking time for personal reflection.

One group making waves is Explorer X in Seattle which creates personalised itineraries for trips that encourage growth, development, change and understanding. Their travellers are also paired with a holistic mentor pre, during and post trip to ensure the valuable insights cultivated during the trip are carried into daily life, thereby transforming their life moving forward.

Growth of transformative travel

It’s easy to get the two confused, however. Experiential travel gives you the opportunity to do something different and yes, take the photo that proves “I did that,” where in contrast, transformative travel is for the travellers looking for a journey within.

With the help of the right brands, transformative travel will rise. Like every trend, it runs the risk of being exploited by brands that use this language to lure customers.

Let’s be clear: being taught private lessons by an ex-NBA player is experiential travel – not transformative. The reality is, transformative travel is highly personal and totally contextual so it’s not something that can be marketed in mass and executed as easily.

So expect to hear more in 2019 as the industry continues to explore the evolution of how transformative travel offers guest a chance to explore not only the city, but themselves.

Whether it’s a digital detox at a spiritual sanctuary or embarking on a journey to discover your inner potential, transformative travel will continue to grow as it answers to innate human desires and above all: the chance for personal transformation.


― About the Author ―

Alexandra Beggs

Alexandra Beggs

Senior Interior Designer, HBA DNA

Alex comes from a background in Media and Communications and started her career in Australia, where she spent 6 years working in-house for an agency based in Melbourne.

Prior to HBA DNA, Alexandra spent 3 years in Singapore, working in hotel and resort design for renowned hospitality studios including HBA and Blink Design. Notable design projects include Mandarin Oriental Manila, Viceroy Cocobay & Raffles Dhevanafushi, Maldives.

Whilst at HBA Singapore, her cross-industry experience saw her lead the development and design of 3 new brands for a large operator group in China, ultimately co-creating the department for HBA DNA with Principal Mark Eacott.

A well-versed and articulate communicator, Alex has previously been selected for Operator Design Immersion sessions, including Hilton’s lifestyle brand launch ‘Canopy’.

Alex is an active researcher on the evolving hotel guest and their impact on the hospitality design.



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