A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949)
Travel has always been considered as an important factor in cultural and economic growth, but travelling with awareness, into an unknown world of new experiences, can also be a powerful stimulus for inner growth and personal development.
Joseph Campbell (1904 – 1987), the famous American author and cultural anthropologist, through his extensive studies of mythology and religion, identified a repeating story pattern which he named Monomyth, or The Hero’s Journey. The repeating personal and collective transformation, common is so many of the stories he studied, takes the form of a tri-phase loop of Departure, Initiation and Return.
The Departure – The hero departs from the comfortable and familiar, venturing from the known world into the unknown world.
The Initiation – The hero reaches the threshold of adventure, embarking on a series of challenges, proving the hero’s ability and revealing their real character within.
The Return – The hero returns to the everyday world, awakened and resurrected, with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
The Monomyth catalysed by transformative tourism, takes a traveller on a journey away from the comfort of their ordinary life, following a path of awareness and responsibility, requiring new skills and engagement, far from the status quo, unravelling a story of growth and passage, culminating with a return home, enriched and meaningfully improved, personally and to the benefit of others.
The transformational trends of sustainability, wellness, slow-travel, local community commitment, solitude, mindfulness, participation and experiential travel are modern indicators of the future of tourism.
Transformational travel can take many forms, from:
- Travelling with purpose
- Exploring a place very different from your own home
- Engaging with local communities and projects
- Challenging yourself physically, emotionally or spiritually
- Sharing perspectives and time with others
- Mindful travelling, seeking meaning from experiences
- Learning new skills
- Giving more than you take
- Slow-travelling, using sustainable modes of transport
Through transformative travel, a hero’s journey, or monomyth, gives intention to travel, encouraging learning and growth, fostering engagement with the wider world, reaping benefits on the individual and those they share their life with.