One year ago, the thought of planes being grounded and destinations closing their doors to international visitors was unfathomable. Over the past nine months, many people have vowed to never take travel for granted again. From giving back to local communities to life-changing encounters made possible by exploring the world, Travel Courier chats with travel advisors about what travel means to them and what they’ve gained on the open road.
At the age of 21, Erin Kemp backpacked throughout East Africa for six weeks with an organization called Operation Groundswell. While staying in rural communities in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, the group completed projects that were requested by locals.
“While I know volunteer tourism has its pros and cons, I think that there is a place for it when done correctly,” Kemp, Travel Consultant and Director of Marketing & Events at Kemp Travel Group, tells Travel Courier. “The communities knew when we were arriving and would have proposals and budgets ready for projects they wanted completed. They would present the projects to us on day one and based on our groups abilities and funds raised we would pick one to four projects to complete in the community.”
Throughout her stay, Kemp worked on a variety of projects ranging from building a footbridge to helping stock and develop a library system at a local school.
“It may be cliché but this trip truly changed the way I looked at the world,” she says. “I fell in love with Africa over those six weeks and am constantly trying to get back. Interacting with locals and learning about what was important to them made me realize my problems are minuscule by comparison.”
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