The experiences guest ranches provide can offer you the space and tools to contribute positively to your worldview, your perspectives toward nature and other people. I’ve outlined below several steps that demonstrate the process that I’ve witnessed through our guests over the years. This process of transformation has, to my knowledge, not been outlined within the guest ranching industry but is a strong component of many of the ranches that exist today.
Step 1: Getting out of your comfort zone
While some guests do arrive with experience in the activities that ranches offer (horseback riding, whitewater rafting, kayaking, archery, shooting, hiking, mountain biking, etc.), many guests do not. Or, some may only have experience in riding, but not in archery, for example. Regardless, it’s safe to say that hardly anyone has experience in every adventure activity. We then are left to assume that the nature of choosing this type of vacation demonstrates that our guests are willing and ready to get out of their comfort zone in some form or another.
Step 2: Embarking on an adventure experience
Many push their personal boundaries, whether internal or physical, in a host of different ways on a ranch. For some guests, it may be getting over an internal fear around or while riding a horse. It may entail pushing your physical strength to reach the top of a Colorado Fourteener, or you may get out of your comfort zone by understanding and empathizing with different cultures, including those of the ranchers’ lives. Michael Bennett of Muddy Shoe Adventures commented, “Adventure experiences — whether they are physical adventures, powerful cultural experiences, or spiritual encounters — invite us to reconsider our perspectives and beliefs about the world and about who we are. This process of exploration and discovery is what “getting out of your comfort zone” is all about. Adventure travel just happens to be a natural catalyst for it.”
Step 3: Reflection
One of the most important steps of the process is setting aside time to reflect on the experiences of the day. Did the horseback riding increase your ability to take risks, teach you to control your emotions, or to overcome challenges? Did your hike help to decrease your mental fatigue, did you bond with any others in the group, or did you experience a greater sense of well being? When you are able to evaluate your own internal and external performance, you do often recognize how condensed your adventure is with the consequences of your thoughts and actions. In other words, the activities of each day at the guest ranch give you the opportunity not only to experience adventures out of your comfort zone but also to more quickly see the consequences, or assess the feelings, of your taking part in those experiences than you normally would in your everday life.
Step 4: Positive Change
You began your journey before you had booked your guest ranch vacation by deciding this was the right choice for you. And now as you go back home with the experiential aspect of your vacation over, the transformational journey will continue. Yvette Reisinger author of Transformational Tourism: Tourist Persepectives wrote, “By critically reflecting on world perspective or frame of reference and underlying assumptions and taken for granted beliefs, tourists can shape new attitudes and perceptions of the world and, consequently, change their actions.”
The changes that you make in your life are largely up to you. It’s not unusual to find that your self-confidence is improved or you feel accomplished by your mental growth. For some, the experience may spark a career change or an initiative to experience more nature in your life. For others, you may have created a friendship that you’d like to continue after the vacation that leads to future trips together.
We are, in a way, touched by all the experiences in our life. However, by providing guests with adventures that get people out of their comfort zones and the opportunity to reflect on those experiences, a guest ranch vacation has the ability to transform your life in a positive and meaningful way.
Up Next: Experiential Travel: How Horseback Riding Can Change Your Life
Potter, E. (2016, June 21). Transformational Travel with Michael Bennett. Retrieved from http://www.everettpotter.com/2016/06/transformational-travel-with-michael-bennett/
Reisinger, Y. (2013). Tranformational Tourism: Tourist Perspectives. Boston, MA: CABI.