Friday, April 3, 2009

The next level of life coaching - a travel coach?

Professional coaches are a part of everyday life now. As we try to manage our ever-stressful lives we seek help from experts for everything from health and fitness to careers, finance, image, parenting, relationships, time management, spiritual development and personal goals in our lives.Now, according to World Travel Market’s Global Trends research commissioned by Euromonitor International, more people are turning to travel coaches to ensure they enjoy a personally fulfilling trip when they go away. It says time-starved travellers are employing coaches not only for advice on where and how to travel but also how to use their previous leisure time to ensure that they return mentally stronger and ready to tackle life’s challenges.North America is the trendsetter, and travel mentors are particularly popular with business travellers. The coaches examine clients’ life and career goals to plan how travel can help achieve them. They even handle logistics of trips, which can be long and often involve helping companies with sabbaticals or job relocation for employees.Individual travel coaches are also prevalent, advertising their services in mediums from local directories to online communities. The advice does not come cheap, either. A focus on the emerging trend in 2006 in the New York Times cited fees of $500-$2,000 or more per month for up to four one-hour sessions per month, in person or over the phone, backed up by emails and text messaging. One Toronto company specialising in personal development training undertakes travel coaching trips. Its inaugural trip took six women on a nine-day trip to Italy with their personal coach, the reason for coaching in new environments being to allow people to examine their own personal “environment” according to the company’s website. “During this trip to Italy, the women and Italy each provided a landscape upon which the women could examine their choices about how they treated themselves, how they felt about their beauty and, consequently, how they expressed themselves in the world,” it enthuses.As for the need for travel coaching, it adds: “When we journey into another country or culture, we automatically see that life happens in very different ways. We are reflective of our own situation, culture, beliefs and choices.”Lifebreak coaching is how one San Francisco-based trainer describes his one-on-one programme to help clients plan and take their much dreamed-of sabbatical, such as sailing off the Greek coast for six months. “Lifebreak coaching is for anyone who's looking to refresh, renew, or recharge their life by stepping off the daily treadmill and trying something different for awhile,” he says. Visitors to the World Travel Market trade show at London’s ExCeL in November are unlikely to find coaching gurus on stands of exhibiting destinations. However, travel coaching has made its way across the Atlantic. Polish-born writer and sometime London resident Rafael Wlodarski, author of several guide books for WTM exhibitor Lonely Planet, has travelled through more than 60 countries and offers travel coaching and consulting in person or by phone. Topics include advice about responsible and ethical travel, helping motivate people to plan, save for and enjoy the trip of a lifetime and discussing cultural sensitivities, “reducing culture shock and laying the foundation for a richer travel experience.”A four-star Welsh guesthouse even offers guests an on-site holistic therapist “to soothe away the stresses of the day” – in case its private Brecon Beacons garden and airy bedrooms don’t do the trick.

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