Travel

Tips for Planning out faith based tours in Europe

Faith based tours
Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash

On the topic of organizing religious tourism it should be mentioned that it is a special activity related to the provision of services and the satisfaction of the needs of tourists who travel to sacred religious centers outside their usual environment.

Some tourists prefer to travel for religious purposes and in some cases leave the country for a long period of time, for example, at least six months to visit holy places as well as religious centers. Religious tourism has become particularly popular today, when tourists have many opportunities to travel to other countries as well, especially in Europe.

Target audience for faith based tours

Religious tourism is a promising and quite fascinating sphere of tourism, since it allows to make trips to different places, visiting the oldest monuments that are important not only for religion, but also for the development of art, culture, related to any historical event. In addition, the given orientation of the rest attracts not only believers, but also those who want to learn more about the architecture of temples, churches, various religious constructions, to know their interior decoration and their specific environment. Thus culture and religion overlap in this aspect.

Some people go on religious journeys to purify their souls, as well as to find inner peace and balance. Thus, the pilgrimage was practiced even before the birth of Christ, and now it is also practiced by various categories of tourists. It is very important to know who the target audience is for these faith based tours as it can help plan them better.

Types of faith based tours to prepare

In this way, the following types of religious tourism are distinguished:

Pilgrimage – It represents the desire of believers to worship holy places. Pilgrims have a variety of purposes, such as the desire to pray to God and be closer to him, to find grace, to carry out God’s work, atone for sins, to express gratitude for a good event, etc. The pilgrims, contrary to the opinion of some people, are not religious fanatics, but dedicated and learned people.

Because pilgrims travel long distances, they need to possess the quality of intelligence to communicate with strangers, as well as the ability to count on their strength. Modern pilgrims use the many comforts of civilization to make their travels. Now, this requires a certain amount of money, as well as documents that allow them to reach a certain country, but is a non-issue for European tours.

Religious and cultural tourism – Travel in the religious tourism format involves not only the worship of church relics, buildings, structures, or other objects, but also a general knowledge of the culture and religion of a particular place, which is also of educational interest. Tourists in this direction do not seek to achieve any enlightenment, forgive their sins, they just want to travel and see new corners of our world. For these types of tours it’s great to mix in general local culture elements to keep the audience hooked.

Learning from the history of the religious tourism industry

Religious tourism as a destination has existed since ancient times. However, religious tourists used to travel independently, without the help of any tourist organization. Their goal was to visit temples, cathedrals, monasteries and places of preservation of sacred relics.

The first mention of religious tourism dates back to ancient times, when the ancient Greeks visited Delphi. Pilgrimage tourism is mentioned later in the Middle Ages, when the Crusades gained special importance. In particular, under religious guidance the military operations against a particular state were hidden, so that religious travel at that time has acquired a special political significance.

In the second half of the 19th century, religious tourism began to acquire an organized character. For example, in France there were annual trips to atone for sins.

Characteristics of religious tours to help with organizing

To date, religious visits are the most common. However, when organizing religious visits it is necessary to take into account several aspects:

The address of the tour. The direction of the visit is determined based on the faith that the tourist has or the specific place that he must visit. Therefore, tour operators and travel agents must be well oriented in the available directions and be able to offer the tourist the right product.

The tour route. The tourist’s itinerary must be configured in such a way that the religious feelings of the tourist are not hurt, so that visits to places that may be unpleasant for the tourist are excluded.

Means of transportation. In many countries, the movement through the holy places is carried out by various types of land transport, most of the time by bus, since it allows not only to know the religious monuments, but also to see the daily life and way of life of the people who live there, in addition to knowing the natural attractions.

Designation of tour rules. Religious tourism, like no other, requires strict regulations. People can even carelessly offend the feelings of believers, so it is necessary to know the rules of conduct not only in the temple, but also in other holy places. Otherwise, the consequences can be deplorable, up to imprisonment, especially abroad. To avoid problems for tourists, it is necessary to explain the rules of conduct in a certain place. In addition, it is necessary to stipulate the way of dressing, for example, there are places where it is necessary to put a scarf on the head, it is forbidden to expose certain parts of the body, etc. It is necessary to remember that they have little free time, and it cannot be spent in constant discussions with travelers.

Keep in mind that you can always seek out the help of a professional tour operator for faith based tours in Europe that can help with the journey. When going on a religious tour, tourists should also remember that religious tourism is not a means of entertainment and fun. It is above all an opportunity to change the vision of the world, to learn new things, and to let go of negative emotions and experiences.

Family · Opinion · Parenting · Personal

Raising Pragmatists – Parenting Without God

It’s pretty safe to say that religion is not something which factors very highly on mine and Husband’s list when it comes to parenting our girls. We’ve taught them the basics about what each of the major religions involve and have told them that, if they choose to, they’re welcome to explore faith if it appeals to them, but we certainly don’t follow any religion ourselves and usually strive to separate the girls from these kinds of teachings. While this may seem like our household is “lacking” in something because of our aversion to faith, I actually think that it makes our jobs as parents a lot harder, in two specific ways.

Firstly, there’s the issue of death. When Husband and I have broached this subject in the past with Sausage (BB is still far too young and is mostly only concerned with cake and Mr. Tumble), we don’t have tales of fluffy white clouds and angels with harps to pass on. Husband and I feel that humans have energy and that energy is reabsorbed into the earth when we die, but beyond that there’s nothing. It’s really hard to look your child in the eye and tell them that we won’t live on together in eternity, as much as I would love that to be the case. Expecting a child to be pragmatic enough to deal with the thought that, one day, we won’t be together anymore and we won’t be skipping around in Heaven together is really quite tough.

When my stepmum passed away in 2011, Sausage was just three. Lorraine was another pragmatist and had a Humanistic funeral, presided over by a minister who talked not about God but about people and life and living as a good person. When we spoke to Sausage about her passing, we were careful not to say “Lorraine has gone to Heaven”, both as a way to respect Lorraine’s wishes but also to convey our own views on the situation, but whenever anyone else mentions death around the kids, they tend to soften things by saying that the person had gone to Heaven. While I respect people’s views, I can’t help but wonder if they’re making things easier for themselves because they don’t have to broach the subject of nothing after death, just as much as they are softening things for the kids.pragmatism

The other issue, whilst still Heaven related, is the issue of morality. Husband and I can’t teach our girls that if they aren’t “good” then they won’t go to Heaven or that bad people get their comeuppance in Hell. They don’t have the looming threat of eternal damnation keeping them in line, they simply have to self-moderate and apply what we’ve passed on in terms of ‘how to be a good person’. Anyone who knows our girls knows that they’re both really decent little people, with kind hearts and mindful attitudes (again, I’m talking about Sausage here more than BB, she’s still a work in progress!), both of which have been achieved without religion. It makes me really proud of Sausage to know that, when she’s being a good person, it’s not for the sake of a Heavenly trade-off, it’s because she’s a genuinely good person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing people who’ve got faith and pass it on to their children; I’m all for personal choice and as long as people respect my right to live without faith, I’ll respect their right to have it. All I’m saying is, religion must make certain aspects of child-rearing a lot simpler.

What do you think? Are you raising faithless pragmatists? How do you broach the difficult subjects without making things seem too stark or scary? Do you use the phrase “going to Heaven” even though you don’t believe it? I’d love to hear your views, please leave me a comment below.

Life · Opinion · Personal

Grief and Faith.

Some of you may know and some of you may not know that my stepmum passed away at the end of last year and while we’re all dealing with it, there are times when it still feels very raw and painful. On a seemingly unrelated note, Husband was bought a book on Buddhism by my little sister for Christmas and when reading it, found the story of Kisa Gautami. It goes something like this:

Kisa Gautami was a young woman from a wealthy family who was happily married to an important merchant. When her only son was one-year-old, he fell ill and died suddenly. Kisa Gautami was struck with grief, she could not bear the death of her only child. Weeping and groaning, she took her dead baby in her arms and went from house to house begging all the people in the town for news of a way to bring her son back to life. Of course, nobody could help her but Kisa Gautami would not give up. Finally she came across a Buddhist who advised her to go and see the Buddha himself.When she carried the dead child to the Buddha and told Him her sad story, He listened with patience and compassion, and then said to her, “Kisa Gautami, there is only one way to solve your problem. Go and find me four or five mustard seeds from any family in which there has never been a death.”Kisa Gautami was filled with hope, and set off straight away to find such a household. But very soon she discovered that every family she visited had experienced the death of one person or another. At last, she understood what the Buddha had wanted her to find out for herself — that suffering is a part of life, and death comes to us all. Once Kisa Guatami accepted the fact that death is inevitable, she could stop her grieving. (source)

If you’ve read this blog lately, you’ll know that I’ve been musing over faith, mortality and eternity and while Christian teachings allow us to take comfort from the idea that we’ll live forever in Heaven, what I really like about the Buddhist parable is that it makes no promises. It doesn’t speak of clouds and winged angels and halos, it simply teaches us that in grief we are never alone as everyone has suffered loss and that it is an inevitability in life.

I don’t know why, but I find this very comforting and have felt strangely peaceful since Husband told me. What do you all think?