For most, traveling is a self-exploratory exhibition; for others, it is a journey saturated with religious revival and spiritual cleansing. Witnessing the majestic gothic cathedrals and classic religious artwork are a priceless experience. According to the Independent Traveler, religious travel is a $20 billion dollar industry annually. The world’s most breathtaking destinations are all blooming with religious and spiritual ambience for those seeking religious fulfillment. There are a few things to consider when determining whether a religious trip is right for you.
Religious travel is centered upon the value of celebrating and solidifying faith while practicing charity, fellowship and solitude. Religious pilgrimages have occurred for centuries with various religious groups searching for something deeper than experience in their travels. Religious missions have been established in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil by Spanish Jesuits. Cave meditating was practiced in Buddhism for spiritual enlightenment. In African culture, tribes sent young males out on ‘spirit quests’ as a rite of passage into adulthood.
Modern day travel companies offer specific religious tour packages. For example, Templeton Tours is a Christian based tour company offering land and cruise packages to Hawaii, the Holy Land, Alaska and others. Instead of binge drinking and gambling, the cruises are alcohol-free and include Christian bookstores with gospel music entertainment. Globus offers religious based travel itineraries as well with tour packages including “Journey through the Holy Land” and “Lourdes & Shrines of France”. Isram is a source for Jewish individual and group tours of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and more. Adventures Abroad has a package deal featuring a 13-day stay in cave churches of Ethiopia. ETS leads tours of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish group to Israel and offers theme cruises.
Religious travel does not necessarily mean visiting attractions solely of religious prestige or character; many attractions have spiritual allure that will guide soul searching. Typical religious destinations include The Vatican in Rome, Jerusalem, Egypt, the Sistine Chapel and the Yucatan. Since these attractions are typically overcrowded, most do not experience the inner serenity necessary to fully appreciate their experience. There are more intimate religious travel options available to those who wish for peace and quiet. Buddhist monasteries throughout the world are highly recommended. There are also an array of programs in Europe, Asia and the United States that offer travelers the opportunity to live like a Monk for a week. The itinerary is usually daily morning meditation, followed by a silent lunch, then progresses to a mid-day discussion of Dharma and natures underlying order. Most Buddhist monasteries are great for travelers on a budget because they are free to visit, but donations are suggested.
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