Dr. Carol Dimopoulos has a unique background that bridges the educational tourism sector and academia. In her industry role she serves as CEO and founder of Learning Journeys, a company focused on global transformational journeys which encourages participants to immerse in their interests and passions. The organization focuses on incorporating education into the global travel platform as well as creating social exchanges which initiate economic opportunities for developing societies. Through her global exposure, she discovered what drives human empowerment at a core level. She is a well-respected assistant professor of entrepreneurship, speaker, published researcher and scholar on the subjects of DEI, social entrepreneurship, and responsible tourism. She also holds an MBA in strategic management from Sage Graduate School and a doctorate from The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in Global Education and Leadership and earned a SUNY Fellowship in DEI-teaching and learning certification.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Hello, Carol. The last time we talked was 2019, and a lot has happened in the world since then. How have you been?
Carol Dimopoulos (CD): Hello and thank you so much for having me, and the opportunity. Thank you for asking. The world and the tourism industry has endured many conditions which require a shift and transformation of focus to meet one’s personal needs.
Learning Journeys lives by what brings you joy and how can you create a rich life in a space which is meaningful for you.
TRO: In the previous interview, we talked about self-care travel for women travelers and how important this was for well-being. It seems Learning Journeys has new programs available for this very thing. Were these in the works over the COVID-19 pandemic, or more recent?
CD: Learning Journeys has focused on transformative experiences for many years. Coming out of pandemic conditions, we have all suffered a collective trauma. Offering programs for individuals and groups that focus on self-care is at the core of wellness and transformation. Feeling good, and finding your own unique essence, creates the pathways to personal peace and fulfillment. Travel is a great conduit to allow the freedom and space to learn more about ourselves and the world by immersing in other cultures, their practices, and way of life leaves an indelible imprint on our psyche and creates new ways of knowing.
TRO: The first of these new programs is She Takes Off- Malta and Sicily: A Journey of Restoration. The main focus seems to be to realign mind, body, and spirit. What sort of activities will the traveler experience on this journey?
CD: This program truly gives you the best transformative experiences that Malta has to offer. Boat excursions by sunset while visiting ancient cities, and experiencing local cuisine provides a fully immersive experience into the culture.
Some of the transformative activities participants will immerse in are:
- Wine Tasting sessions
- Fragrance Workshop
- Fashion immersion with local designers
- Snorkeling at Ghar Lapsi
- Maltese Culinary Courses
- Red Tent Women’s Circle
- Megalithic Summer Solstice Celebration
- Meeting with The Horse Whisper
TRO: Malta is a perfect location for resting the soul, from healthy food to spas, and temples to festivals—it is a holistic paradise. What inspiring settings within Malta have you picked out for the activities above?
CD: The Maltese have tapped into the secret of enjoying life to the fullest while the Knits of St. John protected the secret of mind, body, and soul for centuries. The oldest Megalith temples are here, dating back more than 7,000 years while adapting to change over time so a sense of well-being permeates the Maltese islands. A holistic lifestyle has become amplified by spas, temple visits, festivals, healthy food, and meditation. Malta is a perfect destination to reflect on personal growth and meaning.
TRO: The Peaceful Peru is a small group program that includes the typical bus trips to Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Temple of the Sun. But, Learning Journeys’ version includes sessions of reiki and yoga at a holistic retreat. Can you tell me more about these retreats?
CD: We create programs which focus on restoration and at Learning Journeys, we create programs that focus on restoration and discovery.
One of our recent participants, Laura Mech, left an eloquent review of her experience:
“I cannot say enough about my experience with Learning Journeys. My trip to Peru and the Sacred Valley was one of the best experiences of my life. It was deeply restorative, healing, and life-changing. Everything was taken care of, from the time we woke up to the time we were back in our hotel room. Accommodations were beyond any expectations that I had. Our personal guide, Mario, was full of knowledge, personality, humor and he is now our friend. Peru is unlike any place I’ve visited- its towering mountains, peaceful rivers, flowers and fauna, history, and its people have me yearning to go back. If you are considering a trip with Learning Journeys, this is your sign—GO.”
TRO: There’s also a chance for the traveler to experience local culture by visiting a villager’s home, where they will also get a hands-on lesson on traditional garment weaving. An amazing opportunity for a real culture-to-culture experience. How does this activity benefit the locals?
CD: Learning Journeys was built on the pillars of collective community. We consider how the programs benefit participants, the communities they will be visiting, and the greater society. Local families benefit financially through teaching and selling their ancient crafts, sharing their stories and culture with participants, and connecting through discussions of projects they have mastered within their circle. These experiences are brought home and shared while fostering new local ways of life.
TRO: Reflective Soul – A Writer’s Journey in Ireland takes a different route from the other two, being a retreat for writers. Ireland’s lush beauty and history are known for producing legendary writers. What do the small groups on this journey see and learn?
CD: This program is immersive for anyone interested in Irish Literature, writing as a hobby, or turning it into a career. Participants gain insight into historical writing through participating in several hands-on writing workshops including visiting libraries, authors’ houses, and museums.
The goal is to inspire and provide the space to embark on a personal writing journey.
TRO: Experiential travel seems to have become more popular as responsible travel rises, and Learning Journeys is ahead of that curve. Have you seen an uptick in interesting travelers looking for a trip to gain knowledge about local cultures?
CD: Yes, absolutely. People are seeking different experiences which offer personal enrichment. They want to participate in activities which move them, engage in learning new skills, and become immersed in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the culture visited.
TRO: Do you have any other big news or announcements for Learning Journeys in the near future?
CD: Learning Journeys has a major announcement and is preparing to launch an exclusive new line that focuses on day learning experiences throughout the globe. Stay tuned!
TRO: Carol, thank you for joining me today. I hope to talk again in the future.
CD: Thank you for your time! We are profoundly grateful for this opportunity.