Meaning to Travel: Pack Your Bags with Purpose

When Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, hit a wall in her life, she set out on a journey.  Travel became a way to find purpose, heal a broken heart and grow.  Soul-seeking has often been associated with travel and if you’re feeling the urge to hit the road as a way to gain meaningful insights, you’re not alone.  Some 300 million people worldwide make up this fast growing group of intentional or transformational travelers according to Global Travel Industry News.

Before packing your bags for a meaningful journey it’s good to know your aim.  Do you need to relax; do you seek silence for clarity; will your body benefit from intensive yoga or extra support in healing, or will nature reenergize you?   Considering the purpose of your trip ahead of time will help you make the right choices.  For example, if you yearn to go someplace to find yourself, then Las Vegas will probably not fulfill the need.  But if you want silence then a mountain retreat may be ideal. 

 Once you’ve examined your needs for travel, consider the places that most help you fulfill the aim.  Setting an intention for travel can bring rewards, invite synchronicity and open new doors.  It can revive a weary soul, promote healing, allow for time to bond with family and friends, and give a new perspective on what’s important.  The destinations for intentional travel are vast.  Here are a few possibilities and intentions to inspire spiritual wanderlust::

Stretch Body and Mind at Yoga Retreats

Yoga getaways combine mind and body activities to renew and rejuvenate.  They offer a way to escape from the hectic pace of the work world and spend time stretching mind and body.  Yoga retreats at places like Pura Vida USA with your favorite yoga instructor can serve up privileged moments to inspire life transforming changes.

Support Health and Healing

Combining travel with the aim to heal may lead to places like the Duke Integrative Medicine Center in Durham, NC.  The Center’s architecturally Zen setting replete with an outdoor labyrinth encourages contemplation and invites visitors to explore alternative paths to wellness using clinically proven therapies.  Staff counsel people on how to maintain good health, manage chronic ailments such as heart disease and depression, or cope with major medical events like surgery or cancer.

Feed Your Spirit

Scheduling weekends to nourish the soul can foster contemplation and provide a chance to reflect on meaning and purpose.  Spiritual retreats may combine spiritual guidance with periods of silence and meditation or include activities like writing and arts.  The Sophia Institute in Charleston, SC conducts regular retreats with renowned teachers including Joan Borysenko and Natalie Goldberg.  Omega Institute also presents an array of inspiring speakers.  Some retreat centers will offer reduced rates in exchange for volunteer work or give scholarships to those in need.

Volunteer for Nature

Many organizations like the Nature Conservancy offer opportunities for individuals to serve their communities and the planet through volunteering.  Weekends to clean up trails and remove invasive species and pick up trash can have a positive impact on the environment and feed the nature lover’s spirit.

Copyright Debra Moffitt-Leslie 2010

Bio: Debra Moffitt-Leslie

Debra Moffitt-Leslie’s book,"108 Spiritual Practices for Challenging Times" will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in 2011.  Her essays and articles appear in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the spiritual in a mostly material-minded world.  She’s on the faculty for The Sophia Institute and gives workshops in the U.S.and Europe. Her fiction was broadcast by BBC World Services and published in numerous literary magazines. Read more at

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / victorhansonsmith