As humans, we all inherently yearn for connection. Whether through our hobbies, other people, or by planting ourselves in a completely new destination like Belize. The past couple of years have made trying to connect -- with people, places -- not only difficult but potentially hazardous. 2022 promises a semblance of normal, and with it, the yearning to reconnect will be stronger than ever. Many will seek that connection by the reliable medium of traveling. Planes are returning to the sky, borders are reopening and hope is being instilled in all of us. This is causing a shift in the way we operate in the world, especially when visiting new places. Now, the goal for traveling is changing from simply taking a break to wanting to transform your life.
Transformational Travel is not a new concept, but its resurgence has people eyeing Belize as the ideal destination for it. According to the Transformational Travel Council, the term is defined as “intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world.” Belize hits all the marks above, making it the epitome of meaningful travel. From conservation-first resorts and preservation efforts to rich, vibrant experiences with communities, Belize continues to expand and evolve travelers’ worldviews.
We’ve all heard of experiential travel: engaging with the destination on a deeper level through its various activities and attractions. However, these do not necessarily “transform” you. When it comes to transformational travel, you return from your trip a different -- hopefully, better -- person. Belize is rife with experiences that can lead you to make drastic changes in your life. Both for the betterment of your own mental wellness and that of the world. For instance, when staying at Chaa Creek you are invited to bring school supplies for the fellow community kids via our Pack-a-pound program. Your act of kindness continues to impact lives long after you leave. Now, you go out into the world holding onto this premise, always making sure there’s an extra pound of free space in your suitcase for your next visit.
Another transformational experience is taking a stroll within our very own 400-acre reserve. Unlike normal hiking experiences, though, our Leave No Trace rules are ones we hope guests carry in their hearts long after they leave sunny Belize. When it comes to embracing the great outdoors, travelers want to take in as much as they can. This means exploring beyond the trails and getting up close and personal with wildlife. We don’t blame them one bit for wanting to make the most out of the nature experience. However, when opting to Leave No Trace, we must remember we are simply visitors of the forests. Critters, crawlies, and other fascinating organisms call the Belize jungles home, and we should respect it.
Chaa Creek’s Leave No Trace Guidelines include walking on marked trails so as to curb soil erosion, traveling quietly, observing wildlife from a distance, and leaving artifacts where you found them. The verdant rainforests of Belize will thrive under these ethics. It’ll also be a stark reminder when visiting other nature reserves around the world, therefore positively impacting the globe.
When we think of connection, we often picture it in the context of connecting with others. While that’s not the only way to connect with the world --and ourselves-- it’s a surefire way to stretch the boundaries of one’s mind. Peppered throughout Belize are dynamic and vital communities that are bound to transform the way you view life. Cultures thought to have disappeared, such as the Maya, are thriving and engaging in tucked villages throughout the country. Belize holds many enriching experiences you wouldn’t come across in your everyday mundane life.
In San Antonio Village in Cayo, you can learn how to make corn tortillas the traditionally with the women’s group. In Hopkins, join in on a beachside dance-off alongside Warasa’s Garifuna drummers. At Chaa Creek, dip your toes into the Mestizo cuisine with our Open Hearth Hands-on culinary experience. Any of these wondrous activities will pull you away from the monotony of life, adding a splash of color to your soul and flipping your perspective upside down.
“When traveling with intention, you’re not only fully engaging with the community and environment you encounter, but simultaneously learning and growing, so there is an internal and an external benefit,” says Niamh Keohan, co-founder of We Love Transformational Travel. And we couldn’t agree more.
Setting foot into pocket-sized Belize, there are myriad opportunities to learn and grow. The mindfulness doesn’t stop once you’ve explored beneath the world’s second-largest barrier reef or the world’s only jaguar preserve. The intention seeps into meeting our people, climbing ancient Maya cities, and coming into our homes. This way, when you venture back to your own home, your heart’s tapestry has gained a plethora of new colorful threads. All interwoven to create a transformed traveler of the world.