Spirit Quest Tours: Explore Sacred Travel Destinations that Speak to a Spiritual Calling
Taking a sacred trip with Spirit Quest Tours could most likely be one of the memories that will stand in the forefront when you are old and reflecting on your life’s most rewarding travels.
Enjoy this interview with one of the tour company co-founders, Greg Roach.
You will learn what makes this Las Vegas based tour company so unique, and what you can expect when taking one of their guided tours.
Courtney Silvka: First of all, thank you Greg for taking the time for this interview. I’m excited to learn more about Spirit Quest Tours, and I’m sure many readers are as well.
How long have you been leading these spirit-nourishing trips?
Greg Roach: We led our first “Spirit Quest Tours” trip in 2002; though I had been pursuing this kind of travel, on a personal basis, for several years prior.
So for me, I’m going on almost twelve years of spiritual travel and Spirit Quest Tours has now been offering trips for seven years.
Courtney: What first sparked your interest in spiritual pilgrimages?
Greg: I traveled to Egypt in 1998 and had a tremendously powerful spiritual awakening. A “shattering” would actually be a good way to describe what happened to me during that first trip.
The personal, emotional and psychic fallout from the trip was profound, and serious, so I began to travel to sacred places as a kind of coping and healing strategy.
In 2001, I was invited by UNESCO to present a paper at the opening of the Alexandria library, This not only gave me a chance to return to Egypt, it gave me a chance to reconnect with my friends and guides from my first visit.
One thing led to another and within a year we had fielded our first Egypt tour and Spirit Quest Tours was born!
Courtney Silvka: How many trips does Spirit Quest Tours typically lead each year?
Greg: When we first began we only led a single trip each year, In the past few years we’ve increased that to three of four trips a year, but we’re now in a pretty serious expansion phase – increasing both the number of trips we offer and the number of destinations. So Spirit Quest Tours will soon be offering over a dozen trips to all parts of the world.
Four Factors for Picking a Spiritual Travel Destination
Courtney: How do you choose the destinations for your trips?
Greg: There are several factors.
First, is there a strong spiritual resonance or energy at the travel location? There are lots of places you can travel to, but what are the sacred travel locations that have the greatest potential to help accelerate the evolution of a person’s consciousness. I’ve learned that not all destinations are created equal in this regard.
Next, is it a place that people are interested in? For instance, I love Bulgaria: it has a remarkable spiritual heritage that spans 3000+ years and several different spiritual or religious traditions (Thracian, Eastern Orthodox, New Age), but as a destination it’s not a “draw” for Americans.
Then we look to see if there are their favorable economic forces that allow us to deliver incredible value for our travelers – this usually means the “developing world” like Egypt or Bali, places where the dollar goes a long way (though the drop in the Euro and the British Pound are making Europe and the UK more feasible again).
The last consideration – can we provide the kind of access to special, unique, one-of-a-kind experiences and places that are the hallmark of a Spirit Quest journey.
The Egypt Tour Connection
Greg: The answer to both questions is really the same. By far our most popular destination is Egypt. It has such a power to it, and we hear from many people who tell us that it’s a life-long dream to go on an Egypt tour, and it never fails to deliver life changing experiences.
Just like my personal experience there, I’ve seen many people’s lives changed radically after visiting Egypt. And it also happens to be my favorite destinations.
I’ve been there many times over the years, so I know it incredibly well.
I speak a little bit of Arabic and we have absolutely top-notch connections there, so we can arrange some very special things that few other companies can offer.
Maybe most importantly, it’s like a second home to us and we have friends there who are, truly, our family.
The country itself boasts a staggering history – and the Egyptian people are genuinely warm, open and welcoming.
But with all that said, it is a little like asking a parent which child they love best. So England, Bali and Greece are all close seconds. And China is a place I’m really starting to fall in love with as we prepare for our first China tour in October.
New Spirit Tour Destinations
Courtney: Are there any areas of the world that you’ve visited on your own, or hope to visit, that you plan to create into a Spirit Quest trip?
Greg: Lots! I’ve spent a lot time in Eastern Europe, but we’ve yet to offer a trip to that part of the world. I love the cathedrals of Europe and would love to focus a trip on those sites.
As I said, we’re just now offering our first tour to China – something I’m incredibly excited about. At first I had a hard time embracing China as a “spiritual destination,” but then I was exposed to some truly beautiful, awe-inspiring sites that completely changed my thinking about China, and so now I’m incredibly excited about our upcoming China trip, as I think it offers some remarkable spiritual places.
I also want to explore the spiritual legacy of Japan, focusing on Zen, Shinto and Bushido. And finally Bhutan is a destination that I am deeply, deeply intrigued by, so I am actively visioning Spirit Quest tours to all these places!
Accommodating Small and Large Tour Groups
Courtney: How large are your typical travel groups?
Greg: It depends on the trip, the destination and the host with which we are working. We’ve have group sizes from 8 to 85.
With a Bali tour, for instance, we don’t like for the group to be larger than about 40 people – the infrastructure in the country just isn’t there.
Egypt tours, on the other hand, can manage much larger groups – and because of the explosion of Egyptian tourism it’s a definite advantage to having a large group there, as it allows us to do things like private visits to the Cairo Museum, or a private, catered gala dinner on the grounds of Luxor temple.
We also use a luxury “dahabeya” which only sleeps 16 guests for some of our small groups. It’s like a floating luxury private hotel that we sail the Nile on.
And sometimes when we organize a trip for a group, a speaker or a church, then those groups tend to be a little larger.
Everyone Enjoys a Spirit Quest Tour
Courtney: Do you have any age requirements for your tours? What is the average age range for your travel groups?
Greg: No age requirements and we’ve traveled with 10 year olds all the way up the folks in their 80’s.
People find interest in adventure, culture, and spirituality at just about any age.
We have been grateful for the older folks who come on our trips to fulfill a lifetime dream, and also the younger adults who bring such a sense of adventure to our trips.
Courtney: Do you find that your travelers are mostly single travelers, groups of friends, families, or a diverse mix of people?
Greg: Again – we get a mix of all of the above. We have single travelers, pairs of friends, small groups of friends, groups that are a mix of both friend and family, and some other permutations I can’t really think of at the moment.
We also see all levels of “spiritual interest.” Often a couple will travel because one of the spouses has a strong interest in the spiritual part of our trips, so they travel together to support one another.
And we also see friends celebrating birthdays or life milestones together. But no matter what the composition of the group – they always bond into a unique kind of family. We make friends for life, and we see friends for life being made.
Challenges of a Tour Leader
Courtney: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of leading the tours?
Greg: Maintaining your stamina and your humor.
As tour leaders we go through all the physical and emotional challenges that our travelers do. We get tired, we get ticked off, but we have to always be there for our travelers, fix their problems, listen, be compassionate… Also, dealing with other tourists can be tricky.
It’s so important to us that our groups always have space, privacy and a unique experience that can’t be easily achieved the way that most “tours” are run. So sometimes sharing a site with large groups of “tourists” can be an issue for those of us who are “travelers.” But we have a whole bag of tricks to avoid crowds and keep a nice bubble around our people.
Really, the key is kindness, patience and compassion. So the challenges are actually an opportunity to grow spiritually as a person.
Amazing Places & People, Incredible Food, Beautiful Culture
Courtney: What is the most enjoyable element of taking groups of people around the world?
Greg: Everything that’s not part of the last question <smile>.
We love the amazing places, we love the incredible food, we love the beautiful cultures and we love the terrific people who travel with us and with whom we get to share all these phenomenal things.
What’s not to love! It’s the best thing in the world.
At Heart, Spiritual Transformation for Everyone
Courtney: How has your career transformed your own spiritual life?
Greg: Profoundly. And vice-versa as well. My spiritual life came first, and that then led me to this career.
The more time I spend helping people to experience the world, and helping the world to experience our people, the more I’m able to connect with the wonders of human accomplishment, the wonders of the natural realm, and the great, pervasive genius that ties it all together.
Courtney What are the biggest changes you notice in yourself after returning home from a Spirit Quest trip?
Greg: I have a renewed appreciation for life here at home – both my personal life, and our life as a nation.
I find I have a deepened interest in the world – and a greater understanding of it. And I always come back with a whole new list of things I realize I need to learn more about.
For me, Spirit Quest Tours is like the coolest continuing education program on the planet!
Courtney What kinds of changes do you observe in your travelers from the beginning to the end of a trip?
Greg: Oh, man. You name it. People go through profound changes on these trips. I see them become more of who they really are, more of they want to become. They find a power they forgot they had. They become more patient, accepting, loving, open.
We had a traveler once who was just the greatest guy – he always looked out for everyone else in the group, brought up the rear, made sure we were all there, helped people across the street, bought people sodas, whatever.
He was just terrifically open and generous. About midway through the trip I said to his wife. “I just love your husband. He’s a great guy!” and she said, “Oh that’s not the man I left with. That’s not my husband. I don’t know who that guy is, but I sure hope he comes home with me.”
That’s a great example of how a Spirit Quest trip really helps people to find their best selves. And of course, some people don’t change at all. It’s rare, but it does happen.
A Mix of Guided Tour Time and Personal R & R
Courtney Are the trips mostly structured with activities, or do travelers have a great deal of downtime for personal exploration?
Greg: With Spirit Quest Tours we want to create trips that are diverse and varied.
We do have a structure which includes:
- guided site visits
- unique lectures
- informative classes
- expansive ceremonies
Really all kind of things to enrich the experience. But, we also carefully sequence our trips so that people have personal time, R&R time, time away from the group and with nothing to do.
And we also empower people so that if they want to strike off on their own, they can do it with knowledge, confidence, and the security of knowing that we’re right there if they need us.
Transformation at the Heart of a Spirit Quest Tour
Courtney What is the greatest gift that participants in Spirit Quest tours can bring back home with them?
Greg: Change. And not just the coins from a foreign country. Personal transformation. People come back with a completely new perspective on the world, on their own lives, on meaning and purpose, on what it means to be human.
They come home with a greater appreciation for the gifts in their lives and the gift of life itself.
Seriously. I’ve seen these changes in people over and over again. It’s incredible. And it’s the gift that I get – that we get (because Spirit Quest Tours is most certainly more than just me) from the trip as well.
Knowing that we participated in that transformation.
Oh, and we know where to get all the really, really cool souvenirs.
Interested in a spiritual adventure? Visit > Spirit Quest Tours.com