One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
We see travel as a transformative experience that treats both traveler and community as catalysts for change. We pine over the details to infuse people, planet and purpose into each trip. What do we mean by that? For us it is this:
People - Local organizations like restaurants and non-profits as well as individuals like your super knowledgeable tour guides or gifted chef that give travelers like you the opportunity to engage in cultural exchange. We seek destinations where tourism income opportunities are needed and desired, which often mitigates a need for local residents to turn to other employment such as oil, mining, and jobs that take them out of their community.
Planet - We pick some of the most beautiful places on earth for you to unplug and recharge, with the idea of "do no harm" by giving nature the respect she deserves. You'll stay in places - all 3-star and above - that demonstrate eco-friendly practices, such as water saving techniques, solar power or renewable building materials. You'll eat local and organic food as much as possible while enjoying the flavors of culinary customs of the area, and we do the vetting work for you by prioritizing vendor partners that are engaged in their local community to support conservation and sustainable agriculture.
Purpose - We provide the type of travel that allows you to grow and learn through engagement and experience while taking off the pressure of making all the plans yourself. Each trip generates a donation of 5% of sales to the community partner you visit. This allows money to stay within the community not only through the employment provided through tourism but also by supporting local organizations that are working hard to enhance conservation, support community healthcare, provide education, create job opportunities and engage in myriad other social and environmental causes. See our trips.
Our approach is steeped in academic research and industry leadership related to sustainable tourism, global business etiquette and cultural psychology. We use these insights to shape the experiences we provide for travelers and the impact we have on each location we visit.
Highly influential on choice of locations is ecotourism as defined by the International Ecotourism Society:
Purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and natural history of the environment, taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem, while producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people.
Equally as important is the recognition that while we as humans have many, many commonalities we also have deeply ingrained cultural differences that - if ignored or not recognized - can form a basis of misunderstanding, miscommunication and otherwise uncomfortable situations. This is why each trip contains cultural education to bridge the gap of understanding so that we can use our own self and culture in combination with others to "harness the power of our diverse strengths" as Hazel Rose Markus, PhD and Alana Conner, PhD dive into deeply in their incredibly powerful book Clash! 8 Cultural Conflicts That Make Us Who We Are. As they assert:
Embracing our many cultures and selves is an enormous challenge for all of us. But as the planet gets smaller, flatter, and hotter, we can no longer afford to fear or ignore diversity. Instead, we must harness the energy of our clashing cultures for a more creative, cooperative, and peaceful twenty first century.
Interested in learning more? We have a host of other resources we'd love to share! Contact us.
About the founder
A lover of both nature and culture, Ashley’s first taste of travel began at age 17 after a volunteer experience in Panama. In college Ashley studied in Spain and Costa Rica, later working in concert production and international travel where she directed tours to festivals in Europe as well as the Olympics in Beijing and Vancouver.
Ashley holds a BA and BS in International Studies and Print Media from Oregon State University and obtained her MA in Media Studies from the University of Texas, Austin, focusing her research on music for social change in Brazil. Ashley’s academic and professional background merge in her work in project management, cultural consulting, and entrepreneurship and she also taught business English in Seoul, South Korea. She is a fluent Spanish speaker with basic skills in Portuguese and German and has experience in 25+ countries across Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa.
Ashley is passionate about connection, communication and coordination in order to link others with the opportunities and experiences that promote self-growth and community engagement.