How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling

Tripoto
23rd Nov 2013

impacTrip volunteer tourism

Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling by Rita Marques

impacTrip volunteer tourism

Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling by Rita Marques

impacTrip volunteer tourism

Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling by Rita Marques
Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling by Rita Marques
Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling by Rita Marques

Hey, my name is Rita, I am from Portugal and I, like most of you, love to travel.

Today I will tell you about a trip that changed my life.

My story begins quite far away from where I live… With 23 years old I boarded into a solo journey through Southeast Asia for a month. After 6 months working entrepreneurship in Malaysia, I realized I couldn’t leave the continent without exploring the best of it. From Indonesia to Thailand, from Laos to Cambodia, I enjoyed every moment.

Was a truly unforgettable month that ended up changing my personal perspective of the world as well as my professional path. Yes, the landscapes were unbelievable and impossible to translate into words (that’s why I added some pictures…) but the people I met along the trip that shared their experiences and beliefs with me, that opened their home doors for me, that offered their home made food and showed me around, little secrets I would never find out through a standard travel guide.

Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling 1/6 by Rita Marques  Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling 2/6 by Rita Marques

In Bangkok, I met a middle-aged Canadian men who was escaping his life and living in a cheap hostel because of a unhappy love story. On the border with Laos, I met a 90 year old writer who gave up on a stable life to travel and live freely while writing his truly interesting biography. InLuang Prabang I gained a friend who was a monk that wanted to be a singer in UK. In Southern Laos taught kids how to count in English (only till 10). In Siem Riep, I met a social entrepreneur who founded a sustainable English school for over 300 kids who did not have the chance to go public school. In this same city, I went out with the National Basketball team for a crazy night out in a local club. These are only some examples of what happens when you travel, are curious, and are not afraid to make new friends.

I also met some reeeeeeeally nice travel mates. People would join and leave throughout my trip leaving good memories and e-mail addresses for later contact. I had traveled through many countries before but I had never met travelers like these, who wanted to see more than the touristic side of the places they were visiting, who wanted to learn more than just check sites, who wanted to give more than take. Here I understood that many travelers want to get involved with the locals leaving a positive mark there. This was possible through volunteering.

Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling 3/6 by Rita Marques  Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling 4/6 by Rita Marques

This is not a new concept, the Volunteer Tourism. It works in many underdeveloped countries for many years but is mainly restricted to Europeans and Americans going to Africa, Asia or South America. What I understood was that Europe has so many urgent social needs that this would also make sense in several European countries. For me it was very important to transform tourism in a positive social change agent and fight/minimize the negative environmental impact it causes.

Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling 5/6 by Rita Marques  Photo of How I started a Volunteer Tourism company because of traveling 6/6 by Rita Marques

That was my light bulb moment. Portugal is an amazing country to visit but has increasingly urgent social needs so tourism can be an important factor fighting social inequality. Was in that moment that I decided to create impacTrip. That was the first step of a long journey that led to the launch of this social travel promoter that wants to change the way people travel in Europe.

Somewhere in the middle of this (really) tough entrepreneurial journey I met Diogo Areosa and he shared the same vision I did so we teamed up and we are working together ever since.

Every time we speak with our social partners and we are able to support them in their mission, we become even more motivated to keep going and grow impacTrip.

We work every day to create truly incredible experiences that make a difference in the life of many people.

Now I don’t travel as much as I wanted to but I am happy to create authentic experiences for other travelers that think like me.

This is my story. What’s yours?

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