Traveling, it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.

Shelley Sankey

“Traveling, it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.” ~ Ibn Battuta

Shelley Sankey

This quote by Ibn Battuta is intensely the experience that I have on each trip with ConservationVIP. I wish I had enough page to tell you all of the speechless moments that I’ve had while traveling with ConservationVIP. The intense beauty and wonder of the structures within the Sacred City [Machu Picchu], the incredible sunsets and waves crashing the beach of the Pacific Coast in Costa Rica, and the first time I saw the enormous, towering granite face of El Capitan in Yosemite, it took my breath away.

For me, there is a distinct difference between traveling and traveling with purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I travel for a variety of reasons, as do most people: relaxation, adventure, work, family and more. But when I think about traveling with purpose and what that means to me, I recall some pretty amazing experiences.

I think about the incredible opportunity to work on structures in Machu Picchu, more than 800 years old, that very few people have the opportunity to lay their hands on. I recall learning how to create water bars and swales in Yosemite and working alongside Dirty and Happythe National Park Service to properly repair trails for safety and enjoyment of all who visit. I remember cleaning up a beach in Costa Rica that was destroyed by a tropical storm and threatened the wellbeing of the turtle hatchery, and then building barricades for future storms and how much that meant to the people that live there. There is no better immersion into a culture, its people, history, landscape and challenges than traveling to an area to support conservation projects alongside the people that they impact.

Traveling with purpose provides me opportunities to learn and grow, and that’s what turns me into a storyteller.

I’m lucky to work for a company that encourages giving back and in 2015 I started my quest to find an organization that was the right fit. Being that I have a corporate career, there is something appealing to me about getting my hands dirty. While researching opportunities to make a difference and aligning that with my love of the outdoors, travel, hiking and culture, I found ConservationVIP. I was immediately drawn to group volunteering with like-minded people, the opportunity to make a documented environmental impact and the incredible destinations offered. Here is what I wasn’t expecting: the indescribable sense of accomplishment and the lasting friendships that I’ve gained.

The combination of these factors has truly transformed my personal journey of giving back. So much so, that I’ve applied to be a volunteer leader for the organization! I still text and chat with friends I’ve met along the way and there are plans to meet again on future trips. Of all the travel I do, traveling with purpose with ConservationVIP holds a special place in my heart and I’m excited for my future endeavors as part of this organization.

I look back at pictures from all of the ConservationVIP trips I’ve taken and am still in awe of the beauty and speechless moments, and yet the real story is in the learning I’ve had, the impact I’ve made and the people I’ve met.

I will guarantee that you will also have speechless moments and incredible stories to tell as part of joining a Conservation VIP trip, and I would love to hear all about them!

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Paul Adams

What a great post, Shelley! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve no doubt they capture the heart of many of ConservationVIP volunteers.

Jackie Quint

Love the top picture, Shelley! Thanks for sharing your story.

Cari Kelm

This was so touching. Thank you for sharing!!

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