A Personal Connection to Transformational Travel

By Beth Johnston, founder of Orenda Travel


What is transformational travel? It is the new “buzz” word in the travel world. Everyone is talking about this trend, using it as a hash tag and trying to sell it. But what is it? 

It is not something that can be packaged and sold. It is deeply personal and unique to each individual. Here is my story.

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It is true that travel has the power to connect, enlighten, empowerand transform. For some people it happens in a specific moment, for others it happens when they return from their travel experience, and for some, like myself it happens over time.

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Growing up, since my parents were both educators, we had time to travel, but no money. So, we camped across the US and Canada, a VW bus, 3 kids, a mom, a dad and our dog. We climbed mountains, hiked, swam in rivers, walked on glaciers, played in the woods, and visited more National Parks than I can count. There wasn’t any technology. We played cards, board games, created our own fantasy games, visited family and friends, fought, loved and lived. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my travel transformation had begun.


In college I majored in Travel & Tourism. The summer between my junior and senior year I had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany. I had never been outside the US, except to Canada. I took a chance and stepped out into the unknown. I lived with a German family and totally immersed myself in the culture.  I not only experienced Germany, but also visited numerous other destinations in Europe. A myriad of feelings accompanied each new journey. There was joy, fear, frustration, sadness, anger, happiness, and a growing passion for more. My personal transformation was evolving.

I eventually became an elementary educator; I wanted to change the lives of children. I believe that the best education is experience, so I incorporated that philosophy into my classroom practices. I tried to create learning experiences that were authentic and utilized multiple intelligences. Science and nature were often the conduits of these educational experiences. 

During this time in my life, I got married and had three boys of my own. Passing along my love of wanderlust was a priority, even when I got divorced and became a single mom. Travel was one thing I made sure was always included in our sparse budget. You cannot replace those moments where you catch the look of wonder in your child’s eyes as they experience something new, unique, or different than their everyday world. The bond and connection we have through exploring the world together are priceless.  Travel transformed us as a family.

Now, I embark on a new journey of travel transformation as I help people connect to each other and the world through immersive, signature journeys. My hope is that these exclusive, authentic experiences will awaken and empower people to transform not only their own lives, but also others by becoming better global citizens. So, does travel transform? You tell me.

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kelsey bumsted