Go Travel and Talk: Building a community to explore, share and impact

In our latest blog, we chat with Cj Sinclair and Maggie Saltiel, the duo at the helm of the team at Go Travel and Talk. This inspiring team is creating a community-driven travel platform that empowers each other to explore, share and make a positive impact in the world. The platform provides detailed travel guides to worldwide destinations, breaking down how to navigate transportation, budget accommodation, great places to eat and what to see and do, so travellers can feel empowered to explore, a goal we at One Planet Rating too share.

Read on to see how Go Travel and Talk is helping you make a positive impact while traveling.  


What the platform is all about
Go Travel and Talk was initially born out of the frustration of not having all the information needed to travel and feel empowered to do so. The internet is flooded with brilliant travel blogs, but they don’t provide all the information needed in terms of transportation, sustainability considerations, safety, best local places to eat, cool places to visit and how and where travellers can volunteer with cost and time considerations in mind. Go Travel and Talk was created to bring all this vital information together. We want to provide a space where we can empower each other to explore, share and impact; because not only is travel beneficial for our psychological well-being, but it offers a great platform to learn from one another and positively impact the places we visit.

Since we launched Go Travel and Talk in October 2018, we have grown and evolved so much. But Go Travel and Talk’s pillars of exploration, psychology, community and impact and our mission statement have always remained the same: To create a travel network that empowers each other to explore, share and make a positive impact in the world.

On our journey so far, we have learnt two things:
1. The tourism industry includes much more than just travellers. That’s why Go Travel and Talk’s pillar of community has evolved to include ethical businesses, travel bloggers, community driven projects and social impact organisations with similar missions to ours.
2. That tourism can be harmful to communities if travel isn’t done in a sustainable way. Because of this, the Go Travel and Talk’s pillar of impact has grown to make sure our community blog is a space to educate each other on these important issues surrounding travel. We also ensure that our travel guides only connect our community with organisations and projects that are well-researched or experienced personally by our network of content creators.

To achieve our mission of creating an inclusive platform where travellers, organisations and community members can empower and educate each other, we offer two important resources:

  • Go Travel and Talk provides detailed travel guides to worldwide destinations, breaking down how to navigate transportation, activities, accommodation options, local restaurants and positive impact opportunities.
  • Go Travel and Talk also offers a community blog space exploring topics such as global issues, helpful travel tips, social impact initiatives, unique travel experiences, and personal stories. We invite any organisation or individual passionate about these topics to contribute!

Go Travel and Talk has grown over the last five months, and we now have a dedicated team of consistent content creators from all around the world. We have also had the privilege of collaborating with inspirational and responsible travel bloggers, and working with incredible organisations like One Planet Rating, to spread the message of how we can make a positive impact through travel.

 

Our interest in traveling sustainably
One of the reasons Go Travel and Talk was created, was to share our passion for the benefits of travel and to provide the necessary resources and support to empower each other to get out there and explore. However, our interest in sustainable travel was ignited by what we have learned about the negative effects of the tourism industry. Unfortunately, travel is inherently damaging to the environment due to unavoidable carbon emissions from transportation and it can have negative impacts to host communities as well, such as and cultural appropriation and exploitation. We explore this in more depth in our articles on Sustainable Tourism and Travel through a Neo-Colonialism Lens.

With a world that is becoming more and more globalized and a tourism industry that is growing at a rapid rate, it is imperative to make a communal effort to reduce our carbon footprints and increase our positive impact within host communities while traveling. This is what Go Travel and Talk seeks to achieve through our community blog space and detailed travel guides. Our community blog space hopes to inspire, encourage, and educate each other on the importance of preserving our world for future generations to come, and our travel guides offer volunteering opportunities as a way for our community to get in involved and create a positive impact on their travels. We believe that by sharing this information and learning together, we can help change the future of travel. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

 

Suggestions to ensure traveling responsibly
Whilst travelling sustainably can feel overwhelming given all there is to consider, there are simple things we can do to positively impact a place and minimize our negative impact at the same time.

  • Be mindful of your plastic waste and do not use single use plastics – bring a reusable water bottle and foldable tubberware on your travels.
  • Minimize your air travel or book through Flygrn / Hotels that Help. Bus over borders as much as you can.
  • Pay fair prices at the market and pay street performers if you participate in a street performance by watching
  • TRY TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE of the country you are visiting, or at least don’t expect them to know yours.
  • Research the organisations you are volunteering with – are they community lead and community based?

 

We connect travellers with social projects and local organisations
We work with a range of organisations, such as schools, animal rescue centers, NGOs, community driven projects and global awareness campaigns. It is important to us that the organisations we recommend in our travel guides are well researched to ensure that there is no corruption or misdirection of resources. The organisations and social projects that we include have been recommended by our Go Travel and Talk content creators, who have on the ground knowledge of the operations of the organisations and can vouch for them through personal experiences. We will never include an unresearched organisation or social project in our travel guides. If we are unable to find an ethical organisation that one of our community members can vouch for, we will not include one in that guide.

One organisation we support is Angeles of Medellin. A small community centre based in one of the poorest barrios of Medellin, Colombia. Created by an America expat, Marcos Kaseman, Angeles of Medellin, provides a safe space for displaced children and women to learn English as well offering lessons in hair design and beauty. Volunteering with Angeles of Medellin offers an insight into life outside of the tourist hotspots in the centre of Medellin. It is a humbling experience and from our time there, we learnt so much, not only about the families struggles, but about their resilience and support for one another in the face of adversity. The minimum time commitment Marcos asks for is 4 hours, so if you are tight on time, there is still the opportunity to get involved and we wholeheartedly recommend it.

In Antigua Guatemala, we support and recommend volunteering with The GOD’S CHILD Project. The GOD’S CHILD, is a non-denominational organisation that works with children and families in extreme poverty to provide essential care that they are lacking. In addition, The GOD’S CHILD Project’s Institute for Trafficked, Exploited, & Missing Persons (ITEMP) attempts to prevent and rescue persons affected by human trafficking. The “DREAMER Center” is The GOD’S CHILD Project’s Central American base and is located in Antigua. It is a 6-acre campus that hosts several operations that offer medical, dental, psychological care, education, disaster relief, crisis-intervention, and community-connection services to thousands of people living in extreme poverty in the surrounding villages. Among these various operations, and a project I can personally vouch for, is Casa Jackson, a residential recovery care center for malnourished babies. They look for volunteers to offer love and care in the form of feeding and skin to skin contact. Other operations you can get involved with at The DREAMER Center: The Atkinson Family Medical Clinics, DREAMER School and the Santa Madre Homeless Shelter.

In our Colombo Sri Lanka travel guide we offer information on Embark, an incredible organisation dedicated to improving the lives and wellbeing of street dogs. Through rescuing and re-homing initiatives, whilst managing the population through sterilisation and vaccination programs, Embark, have helped 1000’s of dogs find new homes and enjoy a better quality of life. You can get involved in multiple ways: donating, fundraising, sourcing sponsors, fostering or volunteering with them in Colombo.

Another example of an organisation we support is Helping Overcome Obstacles in Peru (HOOP). Based in Arequipa, Peru, HOOP are an organisation focused on bringing support through education to the underserved populations in a district outside of Arequipa. Their mission is to leave the community in a self-sustaining and stronger place. Most volunteers work as English teachers for the children, while social workers develop and present workshops for mothers. These workshops address prominent issues within the Flora Tristán community: financial management, domestic violence, and healthy living. Outside of our day-to-day assistance, HOOP works on fundraising and community development projects like their recycling bin initiative or local artist series. Staff and volunteers are made up of both Peruvian and international personnel of many different disciplines, ages, and backgrounds; all of who come together to empower the HOOP community.

 

Standout locations in terms of driving sustainability
Guatemala is a country that surprised us with its sustainability movement and initiatives. Antigua recently banned all single use plastics and other Guatemalan municipalities are following suit. The commonly used water purifying invention, Ecofiltro, has reduced plastic water bottle use tremendously throughout Guatemala. We recently wrote an article on this, exploring the problem of Guatemalan water and the remarkable invention of water filtration, which has been life changing for the local communities. Additionally, there are many Eco-communities, Eco-driven organic farms, and Eco-driven sustainable housing projects throughout Guatemala, some of which we collaborate with, such as EcoFarms in San Felipe (just outside of Antigua). EcoFarms is a community-based eco-project that utilises ancient Mayan farming techniques to cultivate high vibrational foods, activities, and events for a healthier community. EcoFarms has a horse sanctuary, puppy sanctuary, mushroom growing facility, and spiralled gardens. They accept long term or short-term volunteers to help with any of these projects.


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