Regenerative Travel – A Deeper, More Impactful Experience

Give of Yourself and Be Surprised By What You Get Back

What is the difference between Transformative Travel, Experiential Travel and, now, Regenerative Travel? I was having a conversation with a friend in the travel industry recently. He told me, “I love the Regenerative Travel brand” and so I asked what he meant by that? I’m paraphrasing his answer but it basically went like this…

”what I don’t like about Transformative travel is that it is passive, it expects that I just show up and that by just being there, something will happen to me and I will be transformed, open door, enter, transformation happens, walk out a new person, with no real engagement or effort. Just the fact of being there is enough.”

He continued:

“Experiential Travel is the opposite in a way, it promises that you get to dive in, head first, fully immersive, fully active (not passive), its promise based on the thrill, the one-on-one engagement, all for you.  Both Transformational and Experiential are still ego-centric, it’s about you/me the traveler.”

After he explained why he was unhappy with the words “transformational” and “experiential” related to travel did I finally understand why he loved the term “Regenerative Travel.”  To him, and to me, regenerative travel is not ego-centric but ECO-centric, it’s not about me, it’s about them/you, the people and the place I go. If I am transformed or have an experiential travel experience, it is only a bi-product, an unintended consequence, a casual accident resulting from the full Regenerative Travel Experience.

We see this in this month’s set of blog posts. Take Valentina, while she was more than a casual tourist, the word she chose to describe her experience was “convivir” which translates from Spanish to English as “hangout, interact, live together…” which was fully immersive and resulted in the transformational experience she eventually experienced. But the latter was a result of the former, a holistic experience of being present.  In Anne-Lauren’s article, we see a complimentary travel experience, while only a few weeks at Playa Viva, she engaged with the community, also “hanging out” and coming to an understanding of who they were and what their needs were, then bringing her group to come share that experience.  Regenerative Travel is about “Wholes, not parts” – Eco not Ego. For Valentina and Anne-Lauren, any transformation or experience was a bi-product as a result of the engagement with the broader community and environment.

Playa Viva, as a Regenerative Resort, isn’t just about those who travel to us to engage in the local community, it’s also about the local community and what we can offer to them. In the case of the Jovenes program, we are lucky to have identified a program where we could engage with local youth. Each of us can look at it from a purely egocentric point of view.  We get “free” labor, they get money from a government program for “showing up.” Alone, that might be enough, yet from a Regenerative perspective, we take into consideration the larger “Systematic Reciprocity, not the Transactional” perspective. Amanda Harris, Permaculture Manager at Playa Viva, accepts these jovenes into the Playa Viva Permaculture Plan with the aspiration that what they learn will not only be a transformative experience for each of them but be a catalyst for creating a more meaningful and deeper systemic change in the community.

Sure, when we travel, we start with the notion that “I need a vacation” and just lying on the beach with a good book, attacking the side of a mountain with your snowboard, take that yoga and meditation classes to transform, experience the wildlife of a safari…but to really disconnect to reconnect, I challenge you to find a truly Regenerative Travel experience where you can “convivir”, engage deeply, be part of the whole and engage with reciprocity over transactions and be present and open to just what might unfold. Give of yourself and be surprised by what you get back.


  1. Footnote:  Quotes above about “Wholes, Not Parts” and “Systemic Reciprocity, Not Transactional” from a worksheet entitled “Regeneration: What is it and how does it work?” by Carol Sanford (more at
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