My husband and I were fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend a focus series on Photography and Writing at Blackberry Mountain recently with renowned photographer and travel writer, Bonjwing Lee. This was a different type of travel experience for us – we’ve never really visited a resort with the specific purpose to take a multi-day class before. We loved learning something new while also experiencing all that this amazing resort has to offer!
This experience makes me think of “purposeful travel,” and how it really changes the way we remember a destination. Whether it’s for cooking classes, a sporting activity like a Pickleball clinic (by the way, I’ve got a group going to Club Med for Pickleball in January 2022), a yoga retreat, or even an art series like the one we just did, what you experience really enhances your visit and gives you the opportunity to meet new people who have similar interests. Traveling with a purpose helps you learn a new skill and grow as a person. It also connects you to your travel destination.
Last week, I asked my readers to share their “purposeful travel” stories. I was inspired by the variety of experiences they shared, and I hope you are, too.
Stave Puzzles are hand-made jigsaw puzzles made in Vermont. They’ve been around forever, but they are the first company to do thick, wooden puzzles. Over COVID, Laura Lubin’s daughter, Emery, fell in love with these types of puzzles as a gift from her friend, Holly, so they would do a big wooden puzzle a month for past 18 months. Since she and her husband hadn’t been away since before COVID without Emery, and they love puzzling and are very competitive, they decided to attend the Stave Puzzling event at Blackberry Farm in East Tennessee last January. The resort had about 500 puzzles to choose from (cheapest one is $1800/puzzle). The first day began with wine, cheese, and appetizers. Attendees could pick whichever puzzle they wanted to put together, have wine, and attend organized lunches and dinners. The final morning was competition -sort of like “Let’s Make a Deal:” if you have any Blackberry number saved in your phone, it was one point, if you’ve ordered a puzzle in the last month, another point. Whatever the task, they kept coming in second place. Until the final three prizes for which participants were drawn from a hat. Laura and her husband miraculously won the grand prize: a 3-night stay at Blackberry Farm! The event was a little different with COVID – not as social as in year’s past. Some of the same people have even been coming to this event since 1997! Despite the social distancing, it was still pretty fun!
Lisa VanBuhler loves traveling with a purpose. Here’s one of her many examples: In 2017 she traveled with 3 friends from her town to Arua, Uganda – a remote village that’s accessible by a small plane and then a 1 ½ hour drive on dirt roads. Their purpose was to build relationships with the staff, faculty and children at Aces of Hope. They also taught 30 house moms from Acres of Hope and from a neighboring village entrepreneurship skills and how to start a business. It was incredibly rewarding! The kids were starting a new school year so I had the opportunity to observe their first few weeks of instruction. She loved being in the classroom. She also sponsors a child at Acres and her name Chloe. There was so much more that they did while in Uganda.
Tamara Austin traveled to Central Oregon to compete in a multi-day, multi-sport event for a Young Life Fundraiser. Two hundred teams, some special forces guys & gals, firefighters, police, and her group! Their advantage was they knew the area and we ended up placing 21st place. She about died!
These are only a few examples of how travel can be purposeful. Think about it: a mission trip, a special event, a clinic where you learn a new skill, a truffle hunt, whatever the purpose is for your next trip, it is sure to truly enhance your experience and create lasting memories. What will YOUR purpose be for your next vacation?
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