Now What!?

Chris Braunlich

Far too often this past year, we have found ourselves asking the ever-so-fun question – NOW WHAT!?  You too?

Our non-profit mission is to help sustain some of the world’s greatest landscapes, cultural heritage sites, and biodiversity. We have to travel to accomplish our mission, so you probably understand why lately our challenges have been many.

One recent challenge arose when our friends at REI Adventures made the business decision to exit the international travel market to refocus their efforts within the United States. We love REI and are so grateful for the good REI accomplishes in the outdoor space. From an operating perspective though, their change in focus meant ConservationVIP has had to adapt at warp speed. As we’ve been adapting our field operations so we could safely return to travel, both in the U.S. and to our international destinations (that photo at the top of the page was taken by our Machu Picchu trip leader this month!) we’ve also been adapting our “backroom” procedures to be able to do more.

For many years, REI Adventures helped to magnify our marketing reach and expand our offerings by including our volunteer trips on their travel platform. We appreciated that REI lives to high standards and expected the same of the companies who operated trips for them. They reduced our operating burden by handling trip signups for our trips. We handled the on-the-ground trip planning and logistics, and everything related to our non-profit mission, including choosing and managing the volunteer projects. We worked with local travel companies and local guides to provide an excellent balance of mission awareness and local knowledge. Now, we handle every aspect of the trips ourselves and are proudly moving forward in a new world full of vaccination cards, safety concerns, and entry-requirements.

We recognize how good partnerships can magnify capabilities. That is what we do after all – we work with land managers, community members, partners and vendors to help sustain the places we all love. Adjusting to the loss of our close relationship with REI has not been easy, as our already long days have stretched to even longer ones. But, to use a time-honored expression, when one door closes, another opens.

World Adventure Travel CollectiveAs we sought to adapt, we met other travel companies – eight new kindred spirits – each of whom had a similar long history of working with REI, who value the places they travel to, care for the people they work with, and share ConservationVIP’s high quality service objective. Collectively, we have become founding members of the World Adventure Travel Collective (“WATC”)

ConservationVIP appreciates that the collective will help spread the word about our volunteer trips. In turn, we want to help spread the word to adventure travelers who relied on REI Adventures to select reliable, safe, high-quality travel companies around the globe: there is an easy way to reach some of these companies.

This is one of the creative ways our small but mighty non-profit, powered by the hope and care of volunteers, is working to better accomplish our mission. It’s not easy. It never was. Doing important things that have an important impact requires a little blood, a lot of sweat, and some tears.

We know you want to travel and contribute to our world, otherwise, you would read a blog on something else. When you are ready, we will be ready for you. Welcome. Let’s make a difference together.

We are proud to work with World Adventure Travel Collective members:

Camino Abierto, leading walking and trekking trips across Patagonia, in Argentina and Chile

ConservationVIP, organizing volunteer trips to Alaska, Costa Rica, Galapagos, Italy, Patagonia, Peru, Scotland, U.S Virgin Islands and Yosemite National Park

CustomWalks,  based in Tuscany but offering walking and hiking tours throughout Italy as well as France, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Spain, and New Zealand

Last Frontier Trekking, creating walking and trekking tours in Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, and India

Planet Earth Adventures, leading hiking, walking, and cycling tours in Ireland and Texas

Pyrenees & More, specializing in outdoor adventure and cultural experiences in Northern Spain and beyond.

Romantic Czech Tours, offering walking, hiking, cycling and custom drive tours in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Austria

Terracotta Journeys, offering walking, cycling and food & wine tours in Portugal and Spain

Safe Travels.

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