For the most part of my adult life, I have travelled. Sometimes for long periods, other times, just for a few days. However, whatever the duration, each trip was nothing less than a spiritual journey of deep self-discovery, greater connection, and wider expansion. In this article, I will share my tips for making your trip into a spiritual journey and walking your own pilgrimage path, whoever you are and wherever you are in the world.
1) Honouring the Call
It all begins with an inner call. Like a distant beat of the drum, you instinctively recognise that something is calling your name. How will you respond? Will you accept the invitation and go forth to discover the origins of that steady and persistent drumbeat? Or will you close the windows and turn up the TV to drown out the noise?
Many people choose the latter, preferring instead to stick to the warmth and familiarity of their comfort zone. Honouring the call is to do the opposite. It means you have to let go of all you have known before and bravely step into an unknown world. This is the path of initiation, one that marks a ‘before’ and ‘after’ in your life.
It could be that you are not aware that you are making this choice in the moment, as was my case. Maybe the pull to travel and go in search of something is so strong that it is obvious what you need to do, and there is no doubt about it. In this case, the choice has already been made. Time to put everything in motion and follow the drumbeat wherever it may take you.
2) Right Intention
Once the decision is made and you have set forth on your path, you need to do so with the right intention. Do you want to travel just to tick off places on a map and brag to strangers at parties about how many countries you have visited? What about looking cool on social media and having an Instagram page full of drool-worthy photos of you in exotic locations?
Neither of these intentions are conducive to making your trip into a spiritual journey. Of course, by all means, take pictures and share them with friends and family now and again. You will be thankful for them later on. But don’t put your energy into curating an online image of yourself as an adventurous globe-trotter. If you are serious about making your trip into a spiritual journey, it would be better to put your phone away. Breathe in the air of the new land you are temporarily inhabiting. Pay close attention to every detail of your experience. You will find that you have a much richer and transformative experience as a consequence.
Beware, the temptation may be strong. However, making your trip into a spiritual journey means you have to be strict about where you put your attention. In today’s age of social media and hyper connection, the earnest seeker is challenged with more distractions than ever before. It may prove difficult to unplug from it all, but it is important to have the discipline to put your phone away. That in itself can be a true spiritual practice!
3) Leave your Friends and Family Behind
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can offer you. No great journey can be commenced whilst we are still carrying the baggage of our home life and our old friends and family. It is time to put it all down and set out into this world alone, albeit temporarily. After all, how can you make new friends, meet new people, and have new experiences if you are too busy being a caretaker to your life at home? You need to make some space for the new to enter, and that isn’t possible whilst our lives are still full to the brim with the past.
Of course, be sure to explain your intentions to your loved ones and keep them updated on your travels plans, so they know you are safe. Just because you are on a spiritual journey, it doesn’t mean you need to disappear and be out of contact completely. But forget about speaking to your mum on the phone every day. (Even every other day!) The same applies to your significant other.
The spiritual journey requires space. Space to be, space to think, space to breath, and disconnect from all you have known so far. You can’t get this if you are glued to your mobile, making calls, and worrying about what’s happening at home. Everyone will still be there upon return, and reunion will be so much sweeter after having some distance to appreciate one another more.
Remember: this is your trip. There will be no other like it. You owe it to yourself to give it your all and dedicate this time to your own growth and evolution.
4) Get Off the Beaten Path
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the only way you can make your trip into a spiritual journey is by doing the famous ancient pilgrimage routes of the world. By all means, go ahead and do them if you feel the call to do so. But in my experience, any trip to any destination can be made into a spiritual journey.
There is no need to follow the well-trodden path of other seekers. In fact, I would say that the further away from all well-beaten paths, the better. Keep far away from the crowd. That is where you are more likely to meet more interesting people who will be more supportive of your inner quest than those who seek the company of the tourist hordes.
Sure, it can be fun now again to join forces with others from time to time and to share fun moments and spectacular locations. A spiritual journey should also fill you with joy and celebration. But just be careful that fellow travellers don’t become a hindrance. Fulfill your original intention of elevating your trip into a spiritual experience.
5) Forget the Itinerary
If you are 100% committed to making your trip into a spiritual journey, then ditch the fixed travel itinerary and concrete plans. Whilst the prospect of travelling without a plan may sound extreme to some, I ask you, how can a spiritual journey be planned for? What if you suddenly hear the call to travel to a different city or you meet someone who you’d like to travel with, and they are heading in a different direction to the one you planned?
Do yourself a favour and be flexible about your plans. The truest and most powerful spiritual journey can only be made when you let go of control of the outcome. That means you have to let the drum call lead the way; you are nothing more than its humble servant. Don’t think you can micro-manage your own spiritual journey by organising all the details. Leave space for grace to enter and prepare to have your trip elevated to another level of magic and synchronicity completely.
Caution! On return to your home country, no amount of photos, amazing stories, or hippy beachwear will be able to convey the changes that have taken root in you on the inside. Therefore, take my advice and let the light in your eyes do the talking for you.
Everything you have learnt and discovered is for you and you alone; don’t waste your energy trying to get everyone to understand what you have been through. Unless they have been through the same initiation process, they won’t understand. Naturally, we can only relate to experiences that we have had ourselves. So save yourself (and them) the discomfort, and keep these treasures to yourself until an appropriate moment presents itself. You will know when it does since there will be no frustration on your part and no awkwardness on theirs.
Everyone goes through their own ‘before’ and ‘after’ initiations that are unique to them and occur at different times. There is no one-size-fits-all model. Everyone’s journey is different. Respect everyone’s choice and everyone’s path and you will have completed your initiation gracefully and elegantly.
Continue the Spiritual Journey
Often, we don’t realise at the time the gravity of our choices until much later on down the line. Quite possibly, it will only be in hindsight, when you return from your trip and realise that there is no going back to how life was before (or better said, how you were before), that the penny drops. This can be a tough realisation and one that causes feelings of sadness for what no longer is.
If this is the case, don’t worry. The spiritual path is continuous growth, evolution, and the shedding of skins. When the old skin comes off, it can feel like you have lost your favourite warm, comfy sweater. It can be disorienting and strange getting used to the new, bigger sweater that you now find yourself in. This is the sign that you did indeed make your trip into a spiritual journey.
Congratulations! It’s time to expand into your new self and explore the fruits of your labour.