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A Hierarchy of Travel Needs - Page 6 of 6 - Jim Menge, Traveling Man

Level 5: The aspirational or transformational need to travel

Level 5 AspirationalRunning a marathon. Sailing across the Atlantic. Climbing Mt. Everest. Swimming the English Channel. Walking the Camino. Visiting the cradle of civilization, the tombs of the kings, or the most desolate places on the planet. Even leaving Earth for the Moon. These are journeys that go beyond relaxation. They are journeys of self-discovery and validation, where you get to unlock part of your identity in a new and exciting way. Where the trip is about accomplishing something that has been calling to the deepest part of who you are.

In the forward to the excellent book, “The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seekers Guide to Making Travel Sacred,” Huston Smith[1] writes,

“The object of pilgrimage is not rest and recreation – to get away from it all. To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life. Nothing matters now but this adventure.”

When I read the book the first time while working for Virtuoso, it resonated with many of the experiences that top producing advisors were fulfilling for their traveling clients.

This is where a traveler may go solo or share a transformational experience. Others ask, “Why in the world would anyone want to go there or do that?” The traveler knows best the reason as though there is some inner drive compelling them.

Cyclically, this type of journey may touch back on the traveler’s existential need to visit an admired location or accomplish a significant task. Famous explorers felt an insatiable need to chart paths into unexplored territory. And even though satellites have scoured our planet and flags have sprouted on the arctic seafloor,[2]  individuals still embark on internal journeys of discovery that are best expressed with a physical journey.

[1]   Huston Smith is internationally known and revered as the premier teacher of world religions and the author of 15 books.

[2]   https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/03/world/europe/03arctic.html

Wrapping up (for now)

When I first began exploring the idea of the Hierarchy for Travel Needs, it was an expression of something I had felt and seen first-hand. In all my reading and speaking to travel professionals, I’d never heard anyone articulate the phenomenon in a cohesive way. This essay is my attempt to respond to what I see as a fortunate confluence of my thinking on this topic and an inflection point in the growth of our industry.

In a sense, the travel industry is perpetually flying last year’s plane on this year’s fuel – postponing the creation of new modes of business as long as possible. By laying out this hierarchy, I am hopeful that we can begin to reimagine what the future of travel will look like, and how we, as an industry, can adopt a more flexible approach to travelers of every stripe and color.

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