Travel Philanthropy


Tracey Friley

Tracey: How many people love to travel? I do too. But I am not a country counter. I'm not in a race. Travel is a part of my lifestyle... as opposed to a vacation I take once or twice a year. Does anyone blog about travel? There are travel bloggers and lifestyle bloggers. I am a bit of both. I have my blog and I blog for some specific travel sites.

In case you haven't heard... there is a new breed of blogger that is doing a sort of social good. They are looking to be of value instead of just "get." I want to talk about travel philanthropy. One brown Girl celebrates culture, diversity, and travel. It's also about giving girls a world view. So OBG Aventure Camps teaches girls 11-17 to travel without their parents. It's a really great program and really important to me. It was part of Oprah's Angel Network. I took these girls to The Virgin Islands and it was a great trip.

The other part of giving girls a world view... I put together a trip to Paris for women who've always wanted to go to Paris. We went "glamping." Glamorous camping.

The travel writing industry isn't very diverse. And we have to create these epic campaigns in order to get noticed. Then we can take our travel writing to thee next level.

So... anyway... here I am in Vancouver. I'm on a zip line in the snow. some one wrote about me and called me a Travel Philanthropist. I have never been to a travel writing conference. I didn't know they exist but I found one and i went. I was in one of the sessions... with 300-500 people. There were panelists. I didn't know these people. And I heard one of the panelists say that travel writers don't pitch. So I raised my hand. And the mic wrangler wouldn't look over at me. And some guy saw me waving and tapped on the mic wranglers shoulder and sent him my way. I didn't know who that man that helped get me the mic was... he walked out of the room.

The week before this... I had taken a girl in my community on this trip. And they all needed to have their passports... so I had a passport party. We talked about global awareness and played games.

So I wanted to do this again. On the fly... I thought out a pitch for doing this again. So I told my story and got a standing ovation. Everyone could relate and wanted to help. I set out to do what I stood there and talked about. I scheduled out the whole campaign. I had the first passport party and raised the money and some out of my own pocket. Then Expedia called me... the guy that managed to get me the mic. They offered to pay for my entire project. And now I'm having regular parties. 10 girls, 10 parties... and at the end... so out of these 100 girls... 6 of the girls will win an all expense paid trip to get their passport stamped. But it's not about a trip. It's about what a passport represents.

I want to simplify this notion of travel philanthropy. You can save resources, save people, and save the world. I don't care about comments. More people are watching than commenting. Go online and look up any philanthropy related to travel and it's complicated. I want it to be simple.

I also like to be green. Responsible tourism, eco-tourism... you've heard all thee names. It's basically about leaving the smallest footprint you can while traveling. Such as water conservation. I read an article asking why more bloggers aren't writing about responsible tourism. And many say... it's not sexy enough. Some of us just write about it occasionally and some live it as a lifestyle. There's also Voluntourism, Volunteer Vacations and such... this is where you volunteer while off on your trip.

Now... with orphans. There's a controversy. With Voluntourism there is a darker side. And we're hearing that many organizers using orphans are being used as a commodity. Be sure to check out the agency. Know what you're doing and why you're there.

So, why does philanthropy matter? If you have to ask... you aren't philanthropic. And hopefully nobody is doing it because it's the trendy thing to do. Why do I do it? i tend to view the world without borders. No matter what your cultural background is... we all put our pants on one leg at a time. Don't wait until you take a trip to try and connect with people from other cultures. Kids operate in groups and sometimes adults do too. If you see some one eating something different... praying... doing something different. How about you ask them about it. These are the people you're going to meet. The world is one love. One place. We're all connected and it's culture that differentiates us.

Before I give some examples of who is doing it and where the opportunities are.... I want to share this. 74% of respondents to a to Conde Nast felt that hotels should be responsible to helping alleviate poverty in their communities. There's a trip in Kuai. You can go to this hotel and they offer volunteer opportunities. Check out programs while you're on vacation. Teach it to your kids early on.

During Katrina... lots of people went down to help. Not just bloggers. Everyone can have a role in philanthropy. Almost 5 million people have volunteered to go on voluntourism trips and only 5% actually go.

so Erin Michelson (National Geographic) reached out to me... she's been referred to as the new Adeventure Philanthropist. Erin set out on December 31stm 2010 on a trip on all 7 continents raising money for causes. She's connecting in ways with communities that casual travelers can't. You can follow her at @GoErinGo. She visited a school where we were supposed to bring pens and paper... but they bought soccer balls and things instead. Once they reached the school... she saw how these pens and paper were really needed. They then bought lumber and the parents of the children came and built new desks. That's leaving a legacy and not just leaving.

You don't have to go anywhere to be a travel philanthropist. Here's a picture of some of my volunteers. One is Shelly Seal is a travel philanthropist as well with a son she adopted.

While at Blogalicious... I heard about Heart of Haiti. I had been doing something on my own... collecting shoes. I had a great big shoe drive. Well, Macy's put together an initiative using bloggers. There was a collection of home decor items that were handmade by artisans in Haiti. This was a partnership between Fairwinds trade and Macy's. There have been 2 blogger trips to Haiti. Here is Nadia in the slide... showing children to use computers. This is an example of Travel Philanthropy.

There are plenty of opportunities for bloggers for philanthropy. Some are even here... like Shot@Life. But we're talking specifically about travel. Like the Peace Corps. This is my friend Michelle. She's in her mid 30s. I read that most volunteers are between 17-in their 20s. But Michelle... she doesn't have children or anything to tie her down loves to do this. There's also another demographic of boomers that want to do more with the second part of their life.

Here are some other social media users in action. They didn't go through a program. They did it on their own. MarocMama isn't a traditional travel blogger but she travels and blogs when it's appropriate. She had a statistic on her site... that Morocco has an extremely high rate of abandoned babies. she started Mobiles for Morocco. She wanted to take soft mobiles with her on her trip to Morocco for these babies.

Also... I'd like to say that no ideas are original. People have told me that I copied another guy using social media to have passport parties... I say that great minds think alike. And he has a different demographic. Some of the simplest concepts are the ones that work. In March of this year... I went to my husband and I said that we're so fortunate to travel like we do. And I told him that every time we travel... I want to do something. There have been times I glance at twitter... like this time with Luxury Link posted something that caught my eye. It's called Pack for a Purpose. Using available space in your luggage to provide supplies for the neighborhood. You look a the areas in need and also pick your lodging in the area of need. Drop off the supplies to the lodging and they will be picked up and distributed. So I asked the founder, Rebecca, why? And she said it gives travelers a way to help out. Just as you would bring flowers to a dinner. So check it out... it's awesome.

Bloggers who travel can change the world. These are my take-aways... How can I be a travel philanthropist?

-Stay home. A shoe drive like i did... sent shoes to people in another country who needed them.

-Say Yes to R&R. Don't feel obligated on your vacation to always be philanthropic. Maybe just do a little something in the community you visit.

-Make sure what you do will be a good fit for you. The more authentic I was about the things I wanted to talk about... the more people responded.

-Do your home work. As I said earlier... It's very important to know who you're dealing with. Make ensure it's legit. Find out if the hotel you're staying at has a program.

-We are family. Involve your family in what you're doing. Kids are fabulous at pulling at people's heartstrings. It changes who they become. And it stays with them... instead of a selfish attitude. It's about being of value.

-Do it because it feels good. My husband says it's nice to be nice.

-Write from the heart. Good or bad... you want people to know what they are getting in to. People will follow in your footsteps.

-You don't need permission to help others. Just do it.

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is giving it away.

Audience: One good way is to contact ExPat bloggers. I often share when there are events. But you can do things fom home too. There's a huge ExPat blogger connection and you can reach out to them.

Tracey: I am writing a series on black ExPats. It's the most popular series I've written.

Audience: I ended up at Genesis Farm. People would come to get this experience... missionaries, volunteers. I'd like to travel and find more places like Genesis Farm and that's why I'm here.

Tracey: I gave about examples I knew... but if you Google "voluntourism" you'll find thousands of examples but referrals are important. But as corny as it sounds... follow your heart.

Audience: I've been approached to go on a food program in a developing country. In terms of partnerships and sponsorships... I'd be ok being sponsored by Expedia but not so much thru big pharmaceuticals. How do you feel?

Tracey: My first question is "What do you want from me?" to the brand. I had a great brand connection with the man at Expedia gave me an extra in. You know when it's right. If you're looking for a free trip... shame on you. But if you're looking at being of value... go. Trust yourself.

Audience: I wanted to say thank you for your talk today. I started my website about my weight loss and my quest to climb Kilimanjaro. And I've done it to raise money for AIDS. One of the cool things about being a bloggers is you never know who you'll touch. I'm on my path to wellness and I share how to be active as a plus size person and it grows from the heart. So thank you.

Tracey: Now I want to climb Kilimanjaro.

Audience: My 12-year-old son is in Portugal now. Before he went... we hosted the exchange family's child for 3 weeks. We should really be getting our children out there in the world.

Tracey: Thanks for sharing that.

Audience: I'm a travel freak. I was inspired by my father... we went to India and Nepal and it blew me away. And I discovered how easy it was to raise money for a cause. We did garage sales... lemonade stands... and that money built a meeting center. And our guide talked to us about the schools in Nepal. So I was inspired to help build a school. so I met a woman who makes scarves and we raised money by selling the scarves at home parties and build a school.

Tracey: That's great. So great. You start with something small and the next thing you know... you're doing something big.


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