Have you ever thought about what type of traveler you are? Which European itinerary suits your needs the best? When I look at my personal social media, an amount of traveling experiences are shared. On Instagram, a young couple traveling to Paris and visiting Notre-Dame while giving a life street concert. On Snapchat, a group of friends together with their grandfathers making short footages while walking a section of the Camino de Santiago with their backpack. The content of the posts has the power to inspire others to achieve enrichable experiences and share their wisdom globally.
A current example that identified this new character of traveling is the Spirit Youth project. By designing an itinerary that crosses Europe from west to east the initiative aims at offering a unique travel experience to stimulate mobility of young travelers (<35 years old) in a more “creative-brain-travel”.
Certainly, there is a tendency for planning unexpected itineraries using unpredictable methods. Perhaps you can already identify some of your friends who decided to visit Europe by bike. Or maybe you have that Erasmus friend who never stops seeking for a journey to the Iberian Peninsula from Cádiz to Basque Country. This way of acting can release abilities to enhance the state of your mind. As the slogan of the Spirit Youth project says, “Free your mind.”
Surrounded by people who always do unusual tourism activities, I started wondering which factors make this youth generation an important travel market to pay attention to. Firstly, they are looking for personalized experiences to distinguish themselves from the rest. Having more time, they also spend more than others. Additionality, they are more likely to return and revive those moments. These facts inspire travel stakeholders to create innovative strategies more according to the interests of target. Consequently, they are being motivated to renovate themselves in order to keep up with the youth dynamism and gain their attention.
Yet, what does spiritual tourism mean? Are the youths relating the meaning to religious connotations? Or are they more likely to provide a personal interpretation?
Due to a constant routine, my boyfriend and I were also looking for activities to recover our creative spirit and positive mind. We decided to take our tent and go hiking to Hardangervidda National park (Norway) for two weeks. We engaged actively in local activities such as kayaking and cycling while enjoying the Eidfjord charming landscape. We were able to involve ourselves in an exceptional form of recreation of inestimable value. Sports, mountains, and no internet seemed the perfect combination to free our mind.
From an academic research perspective, the meaning of spiritual tourism has not yet been established. However, from a practical perspective spiritual tourism may refer to a travel experience which contributes to enhance the emotional well-being of travelers. Thus, the essence of the concept relies on its subjectivity. A student architect who travels around Italy visiting monuments to Florence Cathedral, the Colosseum or Sistine Chapel will have a rich source of inspiration for his artistic and spiritual sense. Whereas the perception of an art history teacher about the same experience will have a completely different meaning but then again contributing to its own spiritual dimension. Therefore, spiritual tourism can be all sources of recreational interaction enhancing to the welfare of body and mind.
Taking into account the desires of the youth market, the added value of the Spiritual Youth project is the creation of a new multicultural identity promoting memorable experiences. Therefore, by reinforcing the international character and youth lifestyle, the project engages them in a new dimension of self-development eliminating borders and supporting integration within EU-27.
I consider this initiative an innovative and updated project inspired by the vision to preserve European Union as one destination. Originally from Romania, growing up in Spain, and currently living in the Netherlands, I can recognize the “youth hunger” of discovering new adventures moving beyond familiar scenarios. At the end of the day, the reality is enhanced by pushing boundaries.
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