Travel as Transformation [Book Review & Giveaway!]
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*
Synopsis: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Giveaway: Enter to win a paperback copy of Travel As Transformation. Only open to US & UK.
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