Travel as Transformation

Travel as Transformation

Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity

Non-Fiction - Travel
170 Pages
Reviewed on 10/13/2016
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite

Travel as Transformation by Gregory V Diehl is a remarkable book by a remarkably insightful young author. Diehl left the comforts of his Californian home in his late teens with the purpose of travelling the world - gaining cultural insights, shaking off his acquired childhood inherited and limiting cultural belief systems, and expanding, understanding and developing who he really was. This book shows the reader, whatever age, how to do that too. It is not a how to travel guide in the usual sense (although where to go, dealing with different cultures, finding work, visas, languages etc are mentioned). It is more a motivating and enlightening eye-opener for anyone who feels stifled by ordinary life and believes the things that really matter to humanity can be accessed and absorbed only when you step outside of your usual life and experience who you are once you have departed from the known.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Gregory V Diehl's Travel as Transformation. It is well-written in an engaging style that will draw in the curious reader from the start. The author describes his own reasons for beginning a travelling lifestyle, and the difference between being a tourist and one who travels with an open mind, ready to personally experience other places. How our innate and childhood acquired beliefs and cultural identities shape and limit us is explained, as is how and why we can lose these and discover our true selves and purposes when we encounter different ways of living. The reader sees how the views we hold (about ourselves, conformities, what is acceptable, and life in general) change once we are away from the influences that keep those views in place. I felt Gregory V Diehl’s insights into how our true selves can then emerge (and develop until we become authentic and truly alive, able to fulfill our potential and purpose) are wise and true.

I especially liked the chapter Approach The Insurmountable or Arriving at the Dark Night of the Soul. And the way the author uses his own experiences, difficulties and challenges to illustrate his theories and discoveries. This is a book that encourages the traveler or seeker to be brave: by giving up conventional ways and views and developing personal truths, and then finding a new way of life that enables them to be authentic. There is a special openness and honesty in the writing. I found many true, memorable and quotable phrases - for example: “Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated,” and “You take a major social risk every time you go against the grain because you threaten the bond of a shared identity.” “Recall what you cared about before anyone told you what to care about.” This book will challenge, encourage and be an eye-opener for anyone ready to lose old stories of themselves, get out of their comfort zone living, discover other lives and cultures – remembering, of course, that the real journey is an inward one of personal growth and enlightenment. Recommended.

Jack Magnus

Travel as Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity is a non-fiction travel memoir written by Gregory V. Diehl. At the age of 18, Diehl left his upper-middle class home in San Diego to become a citizen of the world. He shrugged off the recommendations that he go straight into college after high school, and he didn't see his travels as a gap year before settling down. Diehl wanted to experience the world, to see other cultures and, in doing so, to explore the boundaries of his own identity and expand them. He began his journey by boarding a plane to Costa Rica. Diehl knew no Spanish at the time and had no specific destinations in mind. What he did discover was that by living with no set plans in place, he was learning more about himself and his place in the world than he could have imagined. He focused on the tropical environment he found himself in, enjoyed learning about the wildlife he was sharing his world with, and discovered a renewed interest in art, music and scientific inquiry.

In Travel as Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity, Diehl does not exhort the reader to sell off all he/she owns and set off for new lands. He's more than aware that each person has their own path to follow and needs to make their personal journey in their own fashion. What he does do is share the insights he's gathered from his ten years as a citizen of the world and expound upon his philosophies and experiences. I started reading this book expecting to learn about his travels, but soon found that Diehl was offering rather more than the typical fare armchair adventurers vicariously delight in. He was, sometimes subtly, often directly, sharing insights and hard-won wisdom on how those armchairs could be traded in for magic carpets, or, at least, new experiences beyond what most settle for.

Along the way, he discusses the worst that could happen and dispels many of the myriad excuses people often use to stay enmired in their present situations. A most unusual and unexpected approach for a travel memoir, and one I found refreshing and infinitely inspiring indeed. As I read, I began to see how easily the transformations promised in his title could become realities and appreciated the benefits to be gained thereby. Travel as Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity is an adventurer’s guide, no matter what stage of the process you might be at, and it’s most highly recommended.

Joel R. Dennstedt

“Soon after I became a traveler, I came to feel ashamed for having had the limited understanding of things I did before. Travel showed me how arrogant I had been to think I understood my place in the world. I could not have seen that the world I knew was just one of many possible worlds.” Thus begins the unique perspective offered by Gregory V. Diehl in his psychological guidebook, Travel as Transformation. As a fellow non-stop world traveler, I was instantly attuned to Mr. Diehl’s observation and his inclination toward self-examination for the purpose of transformation. And he nails immediately the difference one must cultivate in order to pursue this goal in this particular manner: “Explorers and innovators actively pursue discomfort.” Thus he lets you know up front that travel-as-transformation is antithetical to seeking comfort through escape. Once again, transformation is not at first a comfortable or a pleasurable occupation, but it is a necessary process for reaping the rewards of a self-examined life.

Gregory V. Diehl continues by cutting to the chase and quickly offering his single most important nugget of information regarding both motivation and process in treating Travel as Transformation: “To travel, your perception of reality must constantly evolve.” If one were prone to recognizing pure gold when discovered, this would be enough. For most, this is not enough, and Mr. Diehl succinctly and expertly expands on what he means by offering his own experiences – both in traveling and in the spiritual/psychological practice of self-inquiry – as examples of how one might proceed, and as possible indicators of what in general one might expect to encounter. Smartly and kindly, however, this author leaves the true discoveries up to you. As one who follows a similar path, and for the same purpose, I must affirm: he clearly knows the way and describes it quite brilliantly.

Ray Simmons

I have never read a book that describes the joy and the spiritual benefits of travel better than Gregory V. Diehl’s Travel as Transformation. It is beautifully written, very well organized, and will benefit anyone who is seeking to become a traveler as opposed to a tourist. If you are already a traveler it will articulate things that you have felt and experienced. If you are about to become a traveler and have yet to start your journey, it will prepare you for the wonderful experience you are about to embark on. Traveling is about experience and Travel as Transformation will enrich, enhance, articulate, and explain that experience. As the subtitle suggests, it will show you how to conquer the limits of culture to discover your own identity. That is an awesome reason to write a travel book as opposed to merely showing pictures of your own travel.

I have started a travel blog and I will encourage people to travel for transformation also. Travel has certainly transformed me. I just hope that I can express this as well as Gregory V. Diehl does in Travel as Transformation. This is a great book and a must-read for the serious traveler looking to shape a more holistic world view. I have been that kind of traveler most of my adult life. I just hope that one day I can write as well as Gregory V. Diehl does about my own experiences and how travel has transformed me, as he does in this very insightful book.