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Lasting Travel Gifts When you give while traveling, you often get back even more, says Cousineau. “A pilgrim never travels empty-handed. Bring gifts; even postcards from home can make a meaningful connection.” He recently brought baseball equipment along on a group tour he led to give to kids in baseball-crazed Cuba. Giving appreciation is as important as tangi- ble mementos, he notes. “Gratitude makes transformation possible; that’s what modern people are longing for, to be touched.” Boyle suggests that finding ways


to give back can unlock unique opportunities. Quinn Vanderberg and Jonathon Button, guests on Boyle’s podcast, left stable lives and jobs in California for Nicaragua in 2012 with only their travel bags and a shared dream. Brainstorming a vision for a new life together, the 25-year-old pair had realized, “We wanted life to be filled with travel, culture and people, and to make an impact along the way,” says Vanderburg. “We went knowing we wanted to create a social venture, but first wanted to see what was really needed by the community.” They went on to partner with local


educational nonprofits and artisans to launch Life Out of the Box, a line of clothing and accessories modeled after Toms’ “Buy one, give one” business model. For every product sold, the entrepreneurs donate school supplies to a child in need. Since 2012, the project has expanded to also support kids in Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico and Morocco.


Drive Home


Transformation Starting with a moment of reflection before departing a place, take advan- tage of a trip’s afterglow to recall insights learned, gel memories, share insights and move to make changes stick. Haupert sees this as a good time to develop an action plan to “express gratitude for the journey and create a framework for your homecoming.” Then, take a day to reflect upon


returning home before jumping back into work or other obligations, internal- izing your experience and integrating your “traveler self” back into normalcy. It might involve a trip to the spa, an afternoon of journaling or organizing trip photos, suggests Haupert. “Resist the urge to check emails


the minute the plane touches down or start planning the next trip. Take


CLOSE ENCOUNTERS


Eager for a transformative adventure without traveling afar? Here are some ideas for exploring cultures and connecting with others closer to home.


4 Attend festivals celebrating varied cultures in your local community. Every spring in Washington, D.C., embassies showcase the cuisine, art and history of 70 countries. Frackville, Pennsylvania’s 103-year-old Lithuanian Days is the oldest ethnic festival in the country.


4 Host a traveling cyclist and hear tales from the trails via WarmShowers.org, a hospitality exchange for 90,000 touring cyclists and hosts.


4 Take advantage of local, state and national parks, including 88 ocean and coastal parks within the National Park Service (nps.gov). Along with wilderness sites, the service also stewards important cultural heritage sites nationwide.


4 Find a spiritual retreat center at RetreatFinder.com.


4 Overnight on an organic farm. Visit FarmStayUS.com to sample what’s in season in the region.


4 Meet and host individual travelers via CouchSurfing.com, a network of 11 million globetrotters in 150,000 cities.


40 NA Triangle www.natriangle.com Adventure travelers


named transformation and an expanded world view as top motives for their explorations.


~ADVENTURE TRAVEL TRADE ASSOCIATION


time to remember the journey and see your home turf with fresh eyes,” adds Cousineau. The returned pilgrim has a respon-


sibility to memorialize the journey, an ancient tradition of Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths, advises Cousineau. The San Francisco writer traveled with a group on foot from Louisville, Kentucky, to Thomas Merton’s Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, to celebrate the legacy of Merton and Mahatma Gandhi. One of the women inked a footprint from each of 100-plus travelers, sewing them into a quilt to commemorate the pilgrimage. Chronicling the journey can be as


simple as a dinner party with friends to share what we have learned, says Cousineau, but suggests that travelers engage attendees to also contribute their own stories and reflections. “We have a choice upon returning;


do nothing and just let that experience fade or own it for ourselves,” concurs Boyle. “It’s incumbent to extract the meaning of our experiences and find a way to express them, whether through a photo series, article, painting or video. The traveler’s ‘third act’ of cre- ativity after preparation and execution is how we process change.”


Connect with freelance writer April Thomp- son, in Washington, D.C., at AprilWrites.com.


Dmitry Molchanov/Shutterstock.com


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