Travel as Transformation [Book Review & Giveaway!]

Travel as Transformation [Book Review & Giveaway!]

Hello Catastrophes!

Title: Travel as Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity

Author: Gregory V. Diehl

Publisher: Identity Publications

Published Date: 1st November 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

*Thank you to the author for the review copy*

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Edited with Afterlight

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travel as transformation cover imageSynopsis: A daring, intelligent, and unapologetic call to find yourself in wanderlust.
When you travel to a foreign place, do you experience this new life as your old self? Or do you become a new self?

From living in a van on the streets of San Diego, to growing chocolate with indigenous tribes in Central America, to teaching in the Middle East and volunteering in Africa, bestselling author Gregory V. Diehl has followed a worldly and unconventional path. Leaving his home in California as a teenager, he went on to live and work in 45 countries across the globe by age 28. In Travel as Transformation, he uses his diverse cultural experiences as a world traveler to ask the reader to question how their identity has been shaped by the lifestyle they live.

As you delve into Travel as Transformation, you will learn how travel can profoundly influence your perception of yourself. Diehl teaches aspiring travelers to let go of their internal inhibitions and former sense of self. He shares his own moving experiences of transformation across Costa Rica, China, Morocco, Armenia, Iraq, Monaco, Ecuador, and more to encourage travelers to embrace change. He takes the reader on a nomadic journey that examines all of humanity through unbiased eyes. 

To travel with a truly open mind is to forget who you were when you started. It is to be constantly born anew, and identify with ways you did not know others could exist. What affirms you most? What would it take to destroy you? Travel as Transformation will give you the wisdom, the inspiration, and the resources to conquer the limitations of your home culture. It’s time to take advantage of everything the world has to offer and become everything you can be.

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Review: I am so glad that last year I was able to fall in love with non-fiction, because it is a genre I am really learning to appreciate. Travel is something I love – I love exploring different countries and cultures, and seeing what I can learn from other people. So when a non-fiction book about travel was offered to me I jumped at the chance to read it.

I really liked that Diehl didn’t say that you need to quit your job and travel around the world and sell your house – all the usual stuff you hear a lot from travel content creators nowadays. But in this one the concept of difference and adapting is the main focus of the travel we are discussion. Which means travel can come in the form of exploring surrounding cities or states, or moving to a new city. It doesn’t have to be traveling around the world and switching country every single month. That’s not realistic for some people.

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I also really like what Diehl said about time, and the learning that comes with travel. As someone who has lived abroad and also who travels a fair amount (no where near as much as him!) I have experienced some of the things her refers to in this book time and time again. So, if you wanted a second opinion, I do think this is a really true to the experience book.

One thing that I wish Diehl took more into account was the financial side of things. While we did get to hear about how he funds his travel around the world, and how he started making that work for him, he glosses over that the initial push into traveling came from money he ‘had’ that enabled him to book a flight to go visit a friend without booking a return ticket. But some of us don’t have that kind of money! I would’ve been curious to know more about how to travel when you have limited financial options. Maybe in another book…

Another discussion I appreciated in this book was the discussion of whether you are an ‘outsider’ all the time in a country, even if you have lived there for a while. He touches upon cultural and social norms, and how much research you should do before approaching travelling to a new place. I also like that he mentioned how breaking the social norms may have consequences for you but also for the local people living there.

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This was an incredibly well researched book, and you can tell. You can see it through the facts that smoothly are woven into his personal account and story. It makes for easy non-fiction reading that way as well.

One of my biggest struggles with this book was the chapter where he expresses strong negative opinions of China and some of the social behaviours there. I thought that until this point, he had been very careful to not give a completely negative view of a country – I hoped it was with the intention of letting the reader travel to the place and make up their own mind – but his dislike of China was blatant. I understand to some extent, as he did have a bad experience there and I understand how that would reflect on his view of the country. But I have also been to China and I had the complete opposite impression of the culture there. Maybe it was because he spent time with adults, and I spent time with students? But then he does mention students so… I’m not sure. But the obvious dislike unsettled me, and I wouldn’t want people to think that of the country. It would have been best if he focused on his personal opinions and didn’t criticise the country so strongly so the reader could make up their own mind.

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I really loved how the author chose to delve into some of the theoretical sides of travel as well. The why and the effects it has on a person and their personality. It doesn’t deep dive too much as to get lost in the psychology and technical language. But just enough that it makes you think about what actually happens to you and your mind when you travel and explore a different country.

I am very much looking forward to reading more nonfiction from Gregory Diehl for sure.


Relevance to today: We are people who travel more and more, and as globalisation has happened, we need to have an open mind to adapting to new places and people too. I think this is a good one to read if you travel, but also simply because cultures are mingling and mixing more and more in the modern world! This can be a good one for helping you learn from the changing environment around you and process everything in a healthy way.

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Links: Get the book on Amazon, buy it on The Book Depository or add it on Goodreads!


Gif Summary: 

Found on Giphy


Giveaway: Enter to win a paperback copy of Travel As Transformation. Only open to US & UK.

Click here to enter!

New Video! 50 Facts About Me 🙂

Olivia’s Question: What’s the next country you’d ideally like to explore?

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Some of the images include graphics courtesy of

Olivia-Savannah x


16 thoughts on “Travel as Transformation [Book Review & Giveaway!]”

  • I can’t stand when people’s suggestion to traveling more is to just like drop your life and become a globe trotter, who is actually able to do that out of all their reading audience?? This sounds like my kind of nonfiction travel book, I’ll share your giveaway and I’m happy someone else has a love of nonfiction! <3 There’s so many amazing and underrated books in nonfiction! Also…Love your map int hat picture <3

  • I’ve been on a nonfiction kick since the end of 2018 when I was working on my goals for 2019 and I would love this book! I realized I love non-fiction books about travel since I read Eat, Pray, Love. Which is exactly the traditional approach of “DROP EVERYTHING (house, husband, country, etc) and JUST GO” you mention LOL I like this more doable, realistic approach! And yeah, the financial side of this traveling adventures is the big HOW for most readers!

  • I love traveling, Olivia, but I’m mostly confined to a few states in the U.S. I am traveling abroad for the first time this month, so I’m excited. 🙂 I also like travel books because they enable me to travel from the comfort of my sofa without the expense and this one sounds like a good one to pick up. I think I might learn a few things before traveling abroad more. 🙂

  • Sounds like a well told story, except for maybe the parts about China. I don’t travel like a lot of others do and really don’t have plans to. I want to go on vacation in the future but will probably stay somewhere within the boundaries of my own country. It is interesting and quite brave to take on the world like so many people do today.

  • I don’t seem to enjoy non-fictions as much but this one really seems like an enjoyable read! I love travelling too and it’s so interesting learning and understanding different cultures! It’s sad he has that bias against China, but like you, my brother said his experience there was great!

    I’d love to explore Croatia! I’m planning on going there this year when interrailing with my friends, so hopefully it would be a good experience 🙂

  • This books sound exactly like something that you’d love! You are such a traveler that I am jealous, but I love seeing all that you get to see! That’s too bad that he let a bad experience ruin a whole country for his book. Thanks for sharing this!

  • This is such a lovely review, Olivia. I loved how you explained eacb point in detail. I haven’t read a nonfiction related to travel and I like the sound of this one.
    Regarding the China, I am sorry, but I hate that country too 🙈 Because they are enemy to our country and always backs up Pakistan in regards to terrorism. But yes, I haven’t been to that country and don’t know about the natives, so I would definitely keep my opinions to myself. So I guess, the author should also leave that to the readers to decide for themselves.

  • I like the sound of this! And while I don’t read a lot of nonfiction these days I do love reading about travel. I’ve heard it said that travel and experiencing other cultures changes us, and I believe that. It’s good for people to see other cultures!

    Also I hope to visit china some day, so I would probably agree with you on the author’s China criticisms.

  • I don’t read that much non-fiction either so it’s nice to get one that you like. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed this book.
    I love to travel too, although I don’t do as much international travelling as I would like. It’s much harder (and costly) when you have kids. So big tip: do as much as you can now before you have kids! LOL
    I think people who are motivated to travel would save to do so. That’s what I did when I was younger. I would work and save, and then backpack on a shoestring. I am surprised the author didn’t go into that. It’s a big part of the planning!

  • I love to travel, although haven’t done it as much as I’d like while raising our children. But now that they’re older, I’m hoping hubby & I can get out & see so many places that we haven’t yet. This sounds like an insightful book as we hit this new phase of our traveling.

  • That’s awesome you’ve been enjoying nonfiction! This sounds great with how he takes a different approach to the idea of travel since, as you said, the other ways of traveling the world just aren’t feasible for everyone. Although it does seem it would’ve helped if he’d mentioned the financial aspect since that’s probably the biggest issue for most people who would like to travel but can’t. And that’s unfortunate that he let his bias against China into the book. But I’m glad you enjoyed the theoretical side and some of the discussions and were able to relate with some of what he said 🙂

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