Why travel, what is it we’re actually looking for? What drives the need to escape the confines of our daily lives and transport ourselves to another place?
Exotic climes, air travel and a suntan used to be the preserve of the jet-set. How times have changed. After your formative years of holidays in the med, graduating to backpacking through Asia, numerous city breaks and making a significant dent in your ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ bucket list, you may be feeling that you need to look further afield to find new experiences. How often have you arrived at another 'once-in-a-lifetime’ destination only to have to push through a crowd of selfie sticks, all vying for the same trophy photograph? Ever get the feeling it's not just about what cuts it on your Instagram feed, but about finding truly unique experiences, ones that might even transform you as a person.
Because it's the promise of transformation that really drives why we travel. Even the least adventurous traveller needs to believe that a couple of weeks by the pool with a good book will change them. Making them relax, look better and feel better, if only for short time. For those with greater ambitions the level of expectation being raised higher and higher. We’re all becoming collectors of experiences, something that material goods can’t quite satisfy. We seek raw and unfiltered moments that fulfil a sense of personal development, a journey of the mind, body and soul.
Catering to this new spirit of adventure are a growing number of travel companies who create exceptional tailor-made, experiences, indulging their customers quest for life-affirming experiences in the most exclusive and inaccessible destinations. Diving to the Titanic shipwreck, trecking across Antartica, marooned on your own desert island, all pretty spectacular stuff. What seems strange is how few websites ever really succeed in communicating this emotional yearning for transformation. No matter how unique and bespoke their service might be, they all tend to look very similar. Tending to focus on the practical messages of where to go, how to get there and what to do when you get there. Inspiration is generally offered through a selection of beautiful travel images, which while they certainly have the power to seduce, we’ve become so used to seeing the same images in our social media feeds. Now that there is a growing army of travel bloggers, all peddling the same generic eye candy, it seems to be getting harder to communicate a meaningful travel experience by just showing pictures of beautiful destinations.
I’ll admit this is no easy task and if you’re relying on stock photography (as I have for this article), it’s pretty much impossible. We need to find a new visual language that gets closer to the experience. Because if travel is all about transformative experiences, there has to be a better way of describing it? A way of creating a stronger emotional narrative, concentrating as much on how we might feel as what we might see? A way illustrating those special moments lost in the ore and wonder of nature. Absorbed in the culture and excitement of unfamiliar horizons. The rush of adrenaline and thrill of adventure. An authentic connection with people and their customs. Shared experiences that will last a lifetime, or just simply reaching that zen-like feeling of pure relaxation and holiday Nirvana.
You can change. Isn’t that why we travel, isn’t that what we are looking for?