Well Q&A: The Secret of Transformational Travel

Last updated November 4, 2023

Last year I was doing research for a panel I was moderating on Wellness Travel at the Global Wellness Summit in Singapore. I stumbled across the Transformational Travel Council (TTC) and my heart skipped a beat. 

What was this organization that was redefining the way we travel? Who was this that spoke my language and cared about the “why” even more than the “how?”

I came to find out more about transformational travel as I got to know co-founder, Jake Haupert

Traveling with intention and engaging with people, place and planet is now even more top of mind when I go somewhere thanks to Jake and the amazing Allys and Ambassadors of this movement.

I will forever travel with H.E.A.R.T. (Humble, Engaged, Awake, Resilient and Thankful). au may feel that way, too, after spending time with Jake!

Sallie: What motivates you to do what you do? What is your “Why?”

Jake: I feel that travel holds the potential and possibility to create a more ethical, empathetic, equitable and ecological world. This is a powerful solution to accelerating personal and planetary progress. I am deeply moved by the beauty of our world. Yet I am paradoxically pained by some of the atrocities we live with. I want to do my part in raising awareness and elevating consciousness. I believe transformational travel is catalytic to the change I want to see in the world.

Sallie: How did you end up in the travel business?

Jake: My grandmother was a world traveler back when it was more of a badge of honor. She brought back stories, trinkets from far-away lands and mind-opening photography. Every month, she’d share the recent edition of National Geographic with me. So in a lot of ways, she was grooming me from day one in my life’s journey.

In my early twenties, I began to realize that in addition to my wanderlust, I was starting to uncover a conservation ethos, dabbling in consciousness and recognizing that I was also an entrepreneur. The travel industry connected these dots for me. I was one of the lucky few that found their calling at an early age. And I am grateful every day for that early clarity and sense of purpose.

Sallie: What is one of your favorite active or adventure travel memories?

Jake: Traveling with my family, connecting my kids with foreign lands and people sits on the top of this list. Specifically, our magical family safari in Kenya a few years back.
Every year, my best pals and I go backpacking into the wilderness together
. We share in the awe and wonder of our planet, contemplating life and having conversations that matter. One year, we decided to ascend Mt. Kilimanjaro. It ended up being life-changing and transformative.
Prior to the trip, I was going through a dark night of the soul and seeking answers to life’s biggest questions. By that time, I was beginning to learn how to travel from the inside-out
. On this trip, I played around with uncovering my why, challenging my travel companions to do the same. The night before we started to climb, we formed a circle, shared our intentions and brought awareness to the inner journey we were embarking upon.

After days of walking pole pole,’we arrived at the summit and something shifted inside of us. The sunrise glistened on the freshly fallen snow and the most majestic views sat on the horizon. The goal had been realized and the power of the moment became more than we could hold within. Each of us was overcome with raw emotion and tears began to flow down our icy, sunkissed cheeks.

For many of us, the release of emotion quickly swelled, and before we knew it, we were visibly shaking, heads laying on each other’s shoulders. While the climb was challenging, it wasn’t the physical challenge that released the dam of pent up emotions. It was that the mountain had taken on an entirely new meaning for us that morning.
That day, on the roof of Africa, we found ourselves. We had tapped newfound wisdom, perspective and zest and appreciation for life and all its beauty
. For me, it was clear. I was now on a mission to help others to transform self and society through travel.

Sallie: Tell us a little about Transformational Travel?

Jake: The secret of Transformational Travel lies in moving from being a passive tourist to an active participant in the journey, making more mindful choices and then letting go and letting flow. And by letting go, I mean, releasing expectation, the illusion of control and simply relishing in the unknown in and around you, engaged fully, deeply and with intention and humility.

Sallie: What are some things you must bring with you when you hit the road?

Jake: I like to travel intentionally but also whimsically, so it’s good to stay light and fast. But in my pack, you’ll often find a book or two, our new Transformational Travel Journal that we’re about to publish, binoculars, headphones and some totems, like crystals, pebbles, that help me stay clear, centered and fully engaged. As an example, I often place a pebble in my pocket next to my phone so when I go to reach to my phone, I remember to let it all go, look up, observe and relish the moment.

Sallie: I know you are an avid writer and reader. What are a few of your favorite books and quotes?

Jake: One of my favorite reads is Charles Eisenstein’s, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible”. Currently, I am intimate with “Awakening the Soul” by Michael Meade.
One quote that follows me is “It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves in finding themselves.” – Andre Gide.
And how can you not get lost in, “What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi.
I have a tattoo on my wrist that reads “Ccaentsu Daja,” which translates as “let it flow/happen” in Cofan, an indigenous tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I was scouting a journey for my other company,  Explorer X, with my good pal and mentor, Gordon Hempton and we both walked out of the jungle with newfound wisdom. Instead of living to make it happen, it was now time to simply, let it happen.

Sallie: Where are you longing to go?

J:ake Well, well I would say is that travel is more about the “why” and the “how” rather than the “what and where”. So, with that in mind, I am longing to go anywhere that I can dunk my head in a rushing river, smell the spray of the ocean, feel the earth beneath my bare feet, look up and be suspended in disbelief, down sidewalks that lead nowhere, and into conversations that matter.

About Jake Haupert

jake haupert profile photo

Jake is dedicated to unleashing travel’s superpowers in transforming self and society. He is honored to contribute to the transformational travel (r)evolution and the emergent transformation economy as an entrepreneur, speaker, facilitator and consultant.

He is guiding, supporting and empowering connections and growth through travel by unifying transformational destinations, practitioners and travelers in a global forum, for the betterment of all.

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