This week on Planet Good Radio, our guest is Andrea Ross, founder of Journeys Within Bed & Breakfast and Tour Company/Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC).
For the last 6 years, Journeys Within B&B and Tour Company has been offering tours throughout SE Asia and is a pioneer in philanthropic travel and voluntourism, in fact being named a Conde Naste Travel World Saver because of their focus on helping their community. JWOC is their non-profit arm that focuses on projects that help reduce poverty and increase educational and economic opportunities in the region. Philanthropic travel is key to their business model and to their growth and success. Some of the ways Journeys Within has aided the community are:
- Building wells in villages to provide clean drinking water
- Providing micro-finance loans to help local entrepreneurs build their businesses
- Funding and providing equipment and supplies to local schools, orphanages and museums
- Providing scholarships to students for high school and university
- Disaster relief (for example, local fires and the Myanmar tsunami)
- Providing a fair trade program to help local artisans sell their handicrafts at a good market price
And one of the most involving ways Journeys Within helps their local communities is through Voluntourism. Tour guests are offered the option to make a donation of as little as $50 or $100 towards a program or project they’d like to donate to and a visit to that project is then incorporated into their tour. Nearly every guest opts to donate and incorporate voluntourism into their trip – a key part of the Journeys Within business model and company vision.
For the industry, voluntourism has often meant a guest spending the majority of the vacation in a service project (volunteering at an orphanage, building houses, etc.). And although Journeys Within does offer those kinds of intensive volunteering tours, they realize that’s not a feasible option for everyone, so they’ve pioneered this hybrid approach to allow everyone – no matter the amount of time or money avail – to incorporate philanthropic travel into their tour, and make a huge difference.
With British parents, Andrea grew up in England listening to stories of colonial Africa and the Far East. At the age of eight she took her first solo trip to Australia to visit her aunt and she hasn’t stopped traveling since. In 2003 Andrea moved with her husband Brandon to Cambodia where they started Journeys Within Tour Company and B&B. In the last seven years Andrea has also set up offices in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. Andrea has been on the Wendy Perrin expert list for the last three years and takes her role as a regional expert seriously, she lives in Cambodia for half of the year and travels extensively through Southeast Asia to make sure the guides, drivers and hotels used by Journeys Within are up to standard. She loves to find new and unique trips, hotels and experiences for her guests. Since starting the tour company Andrea has focused on philanthropic travel and the idea that travel can change the world and she is a volunteer executive director for Journeys Within Our Community, a non profit organization she and Brandon founded in 2005. She has two children who are great travelers and go wherever Mom goes! When in the US for the summer Andrea continues to travel, speaking at clubs and schools, promoting Philanthropic Travel and fundraising for JWOC.