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Following on from our last blog on ‘authentic travel’, and in light of our recently published Ayana Journeys Charter, we’re excited to continue in this blogging series about our core tour values. In this blog, we’re highlighting the importance of ‘transformative travel’ and the power that unique experiences bring to participants.

Transformative Travel: Travellers feel that their life has been improved by this experience; lasting memories have been created, and travellers feel more connected to and empathetic towards a global community.

Sara Vukicevic travelled with us (in partnership with PEPY Tours) for a month last year, and in this guest blog post, she shares how her travels in Cambodia have been transformative…

“This trip was enriching in every way possible. I experienced personal growth from the minute the journey began, which then continued through every step in Cambodia, and grew tenfold afterwards.

The trip itself was challenging in the sense that it was a different environment, different language, culture and tradition. The real challenge, and where my personal growth began, lied in notion that we were asked to put ourselves out there, take risks, speak up, ask questions as well as question everything, and most of all be present. Being present required patience and getting to know oneself as you bring on board a different culture, as well as different ideas and theories.

Upon arriving home from my trip I experienced an even greater sense of personal growth. I had learned more about myself and my place in the world, as well as getting a clearer idea of how I would make a career after I finished my studies.

One of the highlights of the trip was our one-week homestay. I connected with my [host] family without the use of language we formed a relationship in a short amount of time, simply by feeling the love from the other person. In this one month I saw more of my heart and mind than I knew existed.

The trip changed the way I looked at development work, it taught me how to question and analyse my surroundings, and most of all it taught me awareness, of myself, of others, and of the world. I thoroughly benefited from this trip in both the academic and professional sense.

What helped me most in the academic sense was the deep discussions we had as a group with our tour guides, two of the most insightful human beings I have met. They pushed us to think harder, to discuss more, and to analyse development deeper. I still look back at what I learned in Cambodia, and even now as I begin my Masters degree I utilise a lot of we [explored] whilst on the journey.

Professionally the trip provided a wide range of professional development; our engagement with NGOs allowed us to make lasting connections with development practitioners.

The trip gave me an enhanced awareness across all dimensions of life, including social and environmental awareness. I was particularly moved by the idea of a ‘forest spirit’ and the idea that we are interconnected with our environment. Socially, I became more aware in the sense of a responsible traveller, dressing in accordance to the culture, and behaving in ways that were culturally appropriate.

I am happy to say that Cambodia felt like home for me! I believe I made rooted connections with the country, the land, the people and the culture. I was never a religious person, but being in Cambodia I loved learning about Buddhism and I feel like it changed something inside of me. I still have the taste of chicken and rice in my mouth. I still remember the sounds of the busy streets. I will always remember mornings in Battambang, the beauty of Mondulkiri, and sunrise over Angkor Wat. Now, being back in Australia I have the strongest desire to head back the first chance I get.

Thanks to Ayana Journeys I was able to experience and feel more than I have in my lifetime, in just one short month!”

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