Disconnecting means different things to all of us. For me, it’s reading an entire book (okay, magazine) without checking snapchat, insta, or imessage. In a perfect world I am a lot more laissez-faire with my digital devices leaving home without them and really being present in the moment. So when we started talking about the theme of ‘disconnecting’ I thought there was no better person to pen a post than our pal Katalina of El Camino Travel. As a professional disconnector she lives her life in the moment pushing the boundaries of travel both personally and professionally. I hope one day I can spend a little less time checking kylizzle’s selfies and doing important things with my time like her.
Read on to learn about Kata’s latest offline endeavor and keep an eye out for some more news regarding Richer Poorer and El Camino Travel.
I am fortunate enough to call travel a full time job. I am even more fortunate enough to call meaningful travel a full time job. As the founder of El Camino Travel, we are always looking to provide our travelers with incredible opportunities that allow them to experience and learn about the places we are visiting from diverse perspectives. This means I am in frequent contact with local movers and shakers– social entrepreneurs working their damn hardest to improve the living conditions of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations and creatives who are producing jaw dropping work that is raising their domestic industry to international prominence.
While, I will continue to focus on creating these type of moments for our travelers, I also want to push myself out of my travel comfort zone. I want to create travel opportunities for our community and myself where we continue to redefine the boundaries of “meaningful travel” and the impact we are having when visiting other countries.
So what does that look like? I have been watching the heartbreaking news of the refugee crisis pouring out of Europe and Syria with a sense of helplessness. It is moments like these, where I feel there is little I can do, that I realized I absolutely must figure out a way to do something.
After months of contemplation, I decided the best thing I could do is go where there is the most need. I will be heading to Lesvos, Greece with my husband in March to volunteer on the North Coast of the island. Lesvos is the geographical point where thousands of refugees are arriving daily from Syria. As volunteers, we will be providing refugees arriving by boat dry clothes and shoes, rain ponchos, sleeping bags, food, medical help. information, etc. While organizing the coordination and logistics of the trip, I realized this would be an important opportunity to extend to our #elcaminotravel community, so earlier this month we did just that.
I offered to help with the overall coordination logistics of flight, accommodation, and island transportation for those that are in our group. Moreover, I knew for many, this will be the first time volunteering in this capacity, and I did not want that to hold anyone back who had the strong desire to do more. Traveling with a group and with an individual that has worked in this capacity before, can ease up concerns. I wanted to provide that buffer of comfort, like we often do for solo travelers on our formal trips. Beyond that, it is guaranteed that we are all going to be extremely hurt, confused, and sad about what we will witness while volunteering. I wanted to provide a support group to help process these complex emotions that will come up. I did not want anyone to feel alone during such a monumental moment in one’s life.
I was ABSOLUTELY blown away by the response we received within a few short hours of making the announcement. Over a hundred emails poured in and it was clear by the beautiful and heartfelt words that made up the messages, our community is trying to figure out a way they can do more in the face of grave human atrocities that we are witnessing. This has greatly motivated me to figure out a way to provide more opportunities like this for our community of travelers as we grow as a company and it has pushed me to rethink what meaningful travel means to us.
More importantly, it has marked 2016 as the year where I will take the moments I feel like I can do nothing and absolutely do something.
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