Traveling is becoming more and more convenient through the help of new technology, but sadly it doesn’t always bode well for places affected by over tourism and negative influences. Kin Travel began when founders Brian Jones and Mark Somen decided to give travelers a way to go on vacation while immersing themselves into the local culture and having a positive impact on their destinations. They strive to offer opportunities to rejuvenate communities and environments through travel, proving that visitors don’t have to disrupt their surroundings to enjoy themselves.
One of the company’s most popular trips, located in Labadie, Haiti, includes volunteer work in reef restoration, hikes to UNESCO World Heritage sites, local school visits, bonfires with village elders and beach drum circles. The trip ranges from $2,400 to $4,000 for the six-day experience depending on accommodation type, but that rate includes everything but flights (that means transportation, experiences like yoga classes and photos, food, drinks and accommodation). The housing for the Haiti vacation is akin to glamping, equipped with a glamorous beach side yurt tent with memory foam mattress and furnishings made by local artists. Throughout the camp there are spots for dancing, yoga, fire pits and lounging, as well as a fully-equipped bathroom, bar and kitchen. Food is prepared by an accomplished chef who uses local ingredients for every meal. Kin partners with local companies in Haiti to help boost the economy and positively impact the community.
Halfway across the globe in Kenya, Kin Travel leads safari trips in the Olderkesi Conservancy bordering the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. Kin invests part of the profits into tree-planting, as well as the Cottars Wildlife Community Trust to support local entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for women. Accommodations for the Kenya trip include private bathrooms, a spa, pool and tented lounge area with a viewing deck. Apart from the typical safari activities like bush walks and Big Five game drives, participants also get to experience school visits, waterfall swims, massages, local markets, village visits and even an educational meeting with a reformed poacher. The camp is an accredited Global Ecosphere Retreat, chosen for its commitment to sustainability through conservation, community, culture and commerce.
In Wyoming, Kin partnered with The Bentwood Inn, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World to create a winter wildlife safari on the corner of Grand Teton National Park and Elk Refuge. An uncommon spot for a typical American vacation, the town of Jackson Hole, where the trip takes place, represents one of the country’s largest income gaps. Kin focuses on serving underrepresented communities in the area while interacting with the people who best know how to serve the local environment. Along with a National Geographic photographer and local biologists, visitors will track animals such as wolves, bison, fox, bighorn sheep and elk through the unparalleled landscape. Travelers will also visit the Wildlife Art Museum, Vertical Harvest and Cultivate (a local organization that provides training and education to combat the local unemployment rate), while supplementing the trip with skiing adventures. In Wyoming, Kin Travel also works with One 22 providing language interpretation, emergency services and education to underrepresented communities and 1% for the Tetons, who contribute $1 million a year to local social and environmental projects.
Each weekend package for the Cape Cod trip will include immersive activities led by renowned scientists and explorers where travelers will dive into the non-profit’s work saving marine mammals (think tracking whales at sea and dolphin rescue training) and beach side experiences like bonfires, oyster shucking, bike riding and yoga. In addition to Provincetown, IFAW and Kin are planning future trip location opportunities as well. Prices range from $2,200 to $2,800 for the all-inclusive weekend. Accommodations will take place in The Salt House Inn, a restored 19th century cottage a few blocks from the beach, complete with an outdoor patio and dining room.
The focus of the newly designed trip is to immerse participants into the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research work along the 700-mile southeastern Massachusetts coastline. Sadly, this area is known as having one of the highest rates of whale and dolphin strandings (beaching) on earth. IFAW is fighting back against strandings and sea life entanglement with the non-profit’s world-renowned rescue and prevention program made up of experts and highly-trained volunteers, all while conducting important research simultaneously. As a part of the Kin Travel group, attendees will participate in a marine conservation course led by these experts.
With the growing popularity of mindful and sustainable travel increasing among jet-setters, the journeys offered by Kin Travel couldn’t have come at a better time. The company proves that travel organizations don’t have to sacrifice community and environmental awareness for life-changing experiences.
Images via IFAW, Kin Travel, Kimson doan, Montylov