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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Nicole Kato

Thomas Kohler

Photo from Thomas Kohler

Photo from Thomas Kohler

Traveling can be a wonderful and enjoyable excursion.

We share photos of famous landmarks and beautiful scenery, and each journey allows us to grow as individuals while opening our eyes to other cultures, experiences and people.

Travel2change.org, spearheaded by HPU professor Thomas Kohler, aims to benefit the communities people visit.

Its mission is to connect travelers with meaningful travel experiences provided by local hosts.

Travel2change was birthed from one of Kohler’s travel experiences to Mauritius, Africa, where he participated in windsurfing with a group of friends.

“Somehow we felt privileged to have all the means to perform the sport, while the local community didn’t have the opportunity to perform the sport, and they didn’t benefit from our traveling activities,” Kohler said.

At the same time, Kohler also noticed a lot of mass tourism development taking place.

“We asked ourselves, what if there’s a way to use our passion to travel with a purpose, so that we can make our trip meaningful as travelers and benefit the local communities?” he adds.

Travel2change is an international platform that invites local nonprofit organizations to post travel experiences that travelers can join. It utilizes a crowdsourcing approach to connect hosts with travelers.

“We want the local nonprofits to submit experiences, so they can directly describe what they need in terms of skills from travelers,” Kohler explains.

These nonprofits (hosts) also submit a log of what types of activities travelers would engage in, as well as who would support the efforts and what the impact of the activities would be.

The organization’s first challenge centered around water (such as surfing), and Kohler and other volunteers supported experiences in Kenya, Peru, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

Travel2change has a two-fold mission that benefits hosts and travelers. For hosts, they are able to raise awareness regarding their mission, develop experience, and get the support they need. Travelers, on the other hand, are able to make each trip meaningful by using passions to connect with the local community.

“Rather than hanging out for two weeks and just spend time in your hotel or at the pool, you would look for opportunities that are provided by the local nonprofit community to join them,” Kohler said. “And by doing that you’d probably have a more authentic, immersive experience.”

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