Photograph by Robert Caplin
Alison Wright is a photojournalist and the founder of the Faces of Hope Fund, which partners with communities and organizations to help provide medical assistance, education, and aid to children in crisis around the world. "Travel puts a face to a place," Wright says. "It helps you make a connection and start to care. And travel brings a whole new appreciation for how good we have it. I believe that travelers do want to help the communities that they visit; one way is to channel the spirit of philanthropy through travel."
Seth McBride and Kelly Schwan
Photograph by Susan Seubert
Seth McBride and Kelly Schwan are a couple on a yearlong, 10,000-mile mission on a handcycle/bicycle ride from Portland, Oregon, to Patagonia. Averaging 35 miles a day, the bikers meet with disability rights organizations while blogging their way south. "I'd hope that our journey can help illustrate that the world is as accessible as you want to make it," McBride says. "Travel, by its very nature, pushes you out of your comfort zone, even more so when you use a wheelchair. I think our journey is proof of the power of travel to unseat assumptions and challenge perspectives." McBride plans to be the first person with quadriplegia to complete a Pan-American cycle tour.
Photograph by Steven Martine
Shannon O'Donnell launched Grassroots Volunteering, a database of free and low-cost volunteering opportunities and sustainable tourism enterprises. "My big dream is to create a streamlined and simple way for travelers to connect with social businesses on any trip, anywhere in the world," O'Donnell says. "With a tool like this, we can think beyond profit and toward the greater good."
Photograph by Peggy Dyer
Katherine Connor is the founder of Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, a nonprofit committed to the rescue, recovery, and retirement of abused Asian elephants. "There’s an education out there that we can’t get from sitting behind a desk—and travel is central to this," says Connor. "We have to challenge ourselves."
Photograph by Jessica Sample
Benny Lewis is a 31-year-old globe-trotter from Ireland who has spent the past decade on a mission to prove that languages can be learned quickly. "If you travel with just one language, you restrict yourself," Lewis says. "When you speak the local language you put the locals in a different frame of mind. Even a few words in the local tongue shows people you’re willing to make an effort to connect."
Molly Burke and Muyambi Muyambi
Photograph by Cade Martin
"I’m from southern Uganda, but grew up traveling often to the north, an area deeply affected by war,” says 24-year-old Muyambi Muyambi. “Traveling showed me how people lived, and it revealed their struggles.” Muyambi met Molly Burke while attending college in Pennsylvania and together they developed Bicycles Against Poverty, a nonprofit which distributes bikes to low-income entrepreneurs. "We see the world through a social-change lens and, whether we’re traveling for pleasure or business, we see opportunities for social change everywhere," says Burke.
The Carroll Family
Photograph by Peter Carroll
Earlier this year, Peter Carroll, a photographer; his wife Kira, a pediatrician; and their sons, eight-year-old Xaver and five-year-old Felix, left Alice, Australia, for a yearlong drive through southern and eastern Africa. "When traveling as a family, keep an eye on the kids but give them enough freedom to explore and extend their boundaries naturally," Peter says. "Children are great icebreakers when meeting people and they help open doors that you may not otherwise have noticed."
Photograph by Mitsue Nagase
Joan Halifax is a socially engaged Buddhist and hospice caregiver who launched Nomads Clinic, an annual medical pilgrimage by volunteer clinicians to the Himalayan region. "So many of our clinicians have had their commitment to medicine renewed through their compassionate service in the clinics," Halifax says. "I think that is why they return again and again, to be reminded of their basic humanity, and the joy of giving care. This is not just common travel, but more like a pilgrimage of service."
John Ellis and Laura Preston
Photograph by Susan Seubert
John Ellis and Laura Preston, known as the Democratic Travelers, fueled their wanderlust of seeing new places by crowdsourcing ideas from the online realm. So far, the duo has traveled 215 days to 15 states while completing 101—and counting—travel suggestions. "We've found that the suggestions that are lesser known and off the beaten path have been the most rewarding," Ellis says. "I hope readers can use the suggestions as a tool for their own trip. By learning of places they might not have known about and reading about our experiences on the blog, visitors can pick and choose their own adventure."
Photograph by Tricia Cronin
Tracey Friley is a travel blogger who launched Passport Party Project, a grassroots initiative to provide underserved girls the tools they need to obtain their first passports. "I believe that kids will find their place in this world once they see more of it, that another country's problems are the world's problems, and that they can be a part of world change if they want to be," Friley says. "They can't get any of these things or become global citizens by staying at home."
John and Hilda Denham
Photograph courtesy John Denham
2013 United Airlines Sustainable Travel Leadership Award Winners
John Denham and his wife, Hilda (not pictured), are coastal conservationists who established the Pacuare Nature Reserve to protect turtle nesting areas in Costa Rica. "Traveling has helped me appreciate the wonders of the world, especially as regards to nature and people," John says. "Often people in villages, isolated from the big world, are unaware of the treasures they have. So it is very special to see people change their views and attitudes once they learn, for example, about the life cycle of a turtle and the importance of protecting their eggs instead of eating them. Many people have never given it a thought, but once they know the importance of such protection, they quickly change their thinking."
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