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Well, today is the day. The day that I am eating my words that I, Susanna, would never book an organized tour. I’m thankful I tried something new since after exploring New Zealand with Traverse Journeys, a responsible travel company my mind on organized tours has changed. As a tour guide for many years who accompanied busses full of people around my home state of Alaska, I vowed to never be one in the mass of people that stepped off a cruise ship and onto a bus only see the view from the window. I vowed to never be one of those tourists shopping for products made in China, when I was in Chile. I vowed never be one of those travelers that stayed in massive resorts where my money goes to a corporation and not the locals. Instead, I would always be a conscious traveler carefully curating my own itinerary to give back to the local economy and to be socially and environmentally conscious. So, what changed my mind? Did I loosen my morals in order to travel to New Zealand? Not even close. The only thing that changed is finally a responsible travel company, Traverse Journeys, is raising standards on group travel in more ways than one.
As an ethical, sustainable, and responsible traveler, I reached out to Traverse Journeys a company that aligns with my morals, and we agreed on a partnership for their upcoming trip to New Zealand. I feel passionate about representing this company, but all views are my own. To book any tour with them use code sk100 for $100 off.
So, let’s take a look at the many reasons why Traverse Journeys changed my mind on organized tours.
1. Their Responsible Mission of “People, Planet, and Purpose.”
Traverse builds their itineraries around three main principles: people, planet, and purpose. Together, these three elements ensure that each and every group trip is ethical and meaningful.
PEOPLE: From local guides, like-minded travelers, and local non-profits, the people involved in each TJ trip are committed to engaging in cultural exchanges while giving back to the local community.
PLANET: Traverse Journeys offers trips to 15+ destinations with the idea of doing no harm. All accommodation has eco-friendly practices, the food is local and the vendor partners engage with the local community.
PURPOSE: Traverse Journeys creates travel that allows the traveler to grow and learn through engagement while taking the pressure off planning. Each trip donation 5% of sales to the local community partner.
These three things alone cover the most important part of travel, ethics, sustainability, and responsibility and would honestly be enough for me to book a trip with Traverse Journeys, but they don’t stop there, in fact, they are just getting started.
2. They Give Back with Community Partners
I had a blast reading through all the various community partners that Traverse Journeys partners with. Each destination works with a local NGO/charity/non-profit called a community partner. My upcoming trip to New Zealand will be working with a charity called Project Jonah. Project Jonah works to save marine life while educating humans how we can be better allies to the oceans. An excursion with the community partner is worked into every itinerary. In New Zealand, we will be going on an ethical whale safari. In addition to getting to know the community partners, 5% of the sales for every trip is donated to this partner. This empowers the local charity to continue doing their work to make each destination a better place.
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Nelson, Picton, thank you for a fantastic weekend of training! Spirits were high despite the temperatures being low!! Welcome to our 51 new Marine Mammal Medics. 😀 Next stop, Wellington! #volunteerpower #marinemammalmedics #training #inflatablewhale #picton #pilotwhale #pontoons #whalerescue
3. I Can Breathe with Small Group Travel
My nightmare of being stuffed in a massive motorcoach while 60 other people invade my personal space before we descend on a small town causing it to buckle under the weight of mass tourism will never come true, thankfully. Traverse Journeys focuses on small group travel with a max group size of around 12 people. This ensures that every connection the group makes with each other and the locals is meaningful. This also protects destinations from over-tourism which can do more harm than good.
4. I Travel with Experts
The tourism industry is bloated with guides who aren’t acquainted with the destination. These types of guides are often lacking in fundamental knowledge in social, cultural, and sustainable issues for the destination. I was so thrilled to see that Traverse Journeys typically works with local guides. Having local insider knowledge for facts and to help navigate cultural and social situations is a great perk for booking with this responsible travel company. Most traverse journeys work with local guides, or experts – like yoga instructors for yoga retreats, location experts who speak the language or have been to the destination many times.
The local guide for my upcoming New Zealand trips is Maxy. Maxy alone was a huge reason I booked this trip. As a fantastic photographer, he is going to be offering on the spot photography tips and an exclusive photography excursion in New Zealand. I can’t wait to learn tips from this pro and capture an intimate look at this gorgeous country! Booking this trip with Maxy as a guide is going to seriously up my photography game – and yours too, if you join us!
5. They Create Fantastic Itineraries
As I read through the day to day itinerary for New Zealand I found myself nodding my head in agreement and excitement. “Oh, I would have done that anyway.” “That is right up my alley.” “Sounds exciting!” “Wow, they chose great companies!” I found myself saying over and over again. You can tell they put a lot of work into each itinerary to get a great taste for your destination. Some of the things to look forward to if you join me in New Zealand are: a whale safari with Project Jonah, a midnight beach excursion to avoid the crowds, a traditional Maori welcome, supporting a Maori owed geothermal spa, cave exploration, star gazing at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve (I’m definitely packing my night lens), hiking at Hooker Glacier and much more!
6. I Can Customize My Trip
Along with the set itinerary, which includes a ton, you’re given a lot of additional excursions. You can customize a more extreme adventure trip or a more relaxing trip. These additional excursions do cost money, but there’s a price range of cheap to expensive to cater to all budgets. If you’re not in the mood for additional activities, you can just enjoy exploring on your own, which is perfect for a more introverted person – such as me. I did, however, pick some awesome additional activities including an excursion to see penguins, a glow worm cave exploration and the chance to ethically get up close and learn about preserving a rare dolphin local to New Zealand.
7. I’ll Get Acquainted with Local Culture
Have you even traveled to a destination if you only seek out experiences that are just like home? Part of being a responsible traveler is engaging in cultural exchanges with locals. However, this is a tricky thing to do. Often cultures can be appropriated and sold for the sake of tourism. Growing up in Alaska I saw too many tourist traps capitalizing on Indigenous culture to make money. So, there is a right way and a wrong way to learn about local culture. Traverse Journeys works directly with locals so you can create bonds and support their business ventures.
In New Zealand, we will be welcomed to the Whenua (land) with a traditional Maori welcome ceremony, complete with Haka, Waka, Hangi dinner, traditional dances and other cultural education at the Mitai Maori Village.
8. I Rest Easy, While They Plan
Being a responsible traveler, it is in my nature to obsessively research and scrutinize each destination, hotel, restaurant, and excursion to make sure I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Several times I emailed Traverse Journeys asking for details on a tour operator to ensure my money was going to make the difference they advertise. Every time, my nerves were calmed with details and sound research on their part and eventually I realized I should let go. Traverse Journeys does all that research I would normally do and they do it with local connections. I can relax and know that I am going to be eating local food, staying in green hotels and working with ethical and local tour operators. I am in good hands. Their standards are on par with mine and that is saying something.
9. They’re a Member of Responsible Travel
If you’re like me you’ve used the website Responsible Travel to research tour operators or read their travel guides. This name has been around since 2001, before responsible travel was cool. Traverse Journeys is a proud member of this organization, so you can feel good they are being vetted by a big name.
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What does saving whales off the shores of New Zealand take? Learn about it here from our community partner Project Jonah. . https://traversejourneys.com/blog/2018/10/3/meet-our-partner-project-jonah . “#ocean #whales #dolphins #newzealand #travel #travelnewzealand #newzealandtrip #hiking #landscape #bucketlist #grouptravel #impacttravel #naturalbeauty #activetravel #adventuretravel #wanderlust #peopleplanetpurpose #traversejourneys @projectjonahnz . Photo credit Allan Conin
10. They Have Friendly Customer Service
During all my communication with my travel representative at Traverse Journeys, I’ve felt like I’m talking to a like-minded friend and not a big travel company. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the people traveling with me this November and I know I am going to make some life-long friends!
Convinced? Join Us!
I know, I didn’t think such an ethical travel company existed either, so it’s time to support Traverse Journeys so they can keep making a positive impact around the world. There is still space on the November trip to New Zealand. If you can’t squeeze in a last minute trip there will be another trip in April and you can use the code SK250 for either one of the trips to receive a $250 discount on either trip. Read more about their upcoming trip to New Zealand here, and book directly on their website.
I typically travel by myself and I avoid traveling with groups. This actually sounds like something that I could enjoy. The small groups and community partners make me a bit more open minded. Thank you for sharing!
Yeah, I feel the same way. I enjoy the giving back aspect and having some breathing room while traveling!
Love this! Traverse Journeys sold you and now you’ve sold me! I’ve never been a fan of organized tours because I always feel like it subtracts from my explorations but everything you’ve outlined – notably the commitment to responsible travel as well as the ability to customize your trip – is exactly what I would love to get out of a solid group tour!
Yeah, I agree that organized tours can take away from the experience, but feel like TJ adds to the experience.
A great post and a very informative one. I normally don’t do planned holidays but this one surely makes me think twice now. I have Australia and New Zealand on my bucket list for next year and I will surely look into using Traverse journeys.like you said Traverse Journeys are a company that aligns sustainable travel and eco friendly ones. We all need to do our share however small it may be and this will be a great way to do it by using a company that believes in it as well.
You’ll have a blast in Australia and New Zealand! My husband is Australian so we get to go there a lot, but this will be my first trip to NZ. I agree more people can do their part by traveling smarter.
Traverse Journeys sounds like the perfect travel company. They’ve taken so much care not to over-crowd a place and to deliver back to the community that you can’t help but be happy with choosing them. I also like that while there’s a base tour, you can add more experiences or just explore on your own. Will be checking them out for our own New Zealand trip!
That is so great that you will be checking them out. I think a tour companies ability to not add to the overcrowding is really crucial to preserving a destination.
A Maori owned geothermal spa sounds perfect for me! I’ve not heard of Traverse Travel, but I can understand the appeal. I too don’t like these big mass tour groups. They’re never as entertaining or informative as there are too many people to please! I’ve also not been yet to New Zealand, so when I do make it there, I’ll be sure to look them up.
I am really excited to enjoy this geothermal spa as well and love that my money will be helping indigenous businesses.
My opinion is about tours is not good as well. However, when you mentioned few important points and the small group travel, I start to feel convinced. I could try their offer, it looks fair.
I can totally relate. I also said that we won’t be using tours and packages but my last minute flight changes made me do it during our last family trip.
Glad to know that you enjoyed your trip and you had a wonderful experienced guide. Anyway, bookmarked your post for future reference.
Sometimes organized tours are great for family trips!
I am convinced totally.The I am sold on their ethics, sustainability, and responsibility part. Nothing beats the experience of traveling with a travel company who takes great pride doing things responsibly. More than anything, I like the way they introduce you to the local people and give an authentic local flavor of the culture. Its very important work with the local agency/NGO for the betterment and the development of the place. And I am happy that they have taken many such initiatives. I have personally met Maori people from New Zealand and I am very keen on experiencing their culture. Thank you for introducing me to Traverse Journeys.
Wow!! It feels as if I could have written this except I traveled to Ecuador/Amazon rain forest with Traverse Journeys.
As a seasoned traveler, this was my first organized tour. It won’t be my last one!
I will be booking again with Traverse Journeys!
I’m so glad you enjoyed your time with them in Ecuador so much. I would love to head to the Amazon Rain Forest with TJ! Maybe that will be my next trip!
I am a very introverted person so traveling solo always has been my go-to. I get anxiety being stuck on a group tour of 50+ tourists who are SO touristy but you have sold me on this amazing small group tour company. It is so nice to have someone plan everything and you just pop in and join. Plus I seriously love their sourcing local and knowledgeable guides!
I’m pretty introverted as well, but this was just enough social interaction for me and the perfect amount of space.
I also have never booked a group tour. Last year, for the first time, I had someone else build my itinerary and similarly, it was a relief having someone else being in charge of making the plans!
It is nice to be able to disconnect for a bit and really enjoy your vacation!
I haven’t typically taken tours because I like to have the option of sightseeing at my own pace. However, when my mother and I traveled to Scotland, our only way to see the Isle of Skye was with a day tour. It opened my eyes to some of its benefits. Our guide was extremely knowledgable about all the area we visited. He pointed out things that we might have missed. Your post has me interested in Traverse Journeys because they seem to put so much effort into thoroughly researching what they are offering and making sure that tourism is helpful, not detrimental to the locals. That trip to New Zealand looks amazing!!
I know when I do an organized tour I learn a lot more about my destination through local guides. The trip to New Zealand really was a dream come true!
I’m so with you on this. Traverse Journeys remind me a lot of some local touring companies in South Africa where sustainable travel in small groups is the way to go. The added benefits of learning the local culture and great itineraries are just more reason to book with such companies.
Sounds like I need to make a trip to S. Africa to check some of these awesome companies out.
Wow! Thanks for sharing about Traverse Journeys. Glad you enjoyed your trip. In fact, we are planning a trip to one of the destinations they cover and will check it out with them.
That is so great, let me know if you have any questions about them! Where are you headed?
I’m the exact same! I’ve always steered clear of yours unless it is in an unsafe place or sometimes it can actually be a cheaper option (I remember I got a $60 a night tour for Oktoberfest because a bed in a 10 bed dorm in the main area was $150 a night!!)
Oktoberfest gets so expensive, so going as a group is a great way to cut that cost. Small groups with a local guide are always a great way to get to know your destination on an intimate level as well.
oh yes totally understood. I prefer to go always by myself without being part of any tour but sometimes it is necessary and of course you understand better the story and the history behind a place. Good article.
Yep, local guides really are a great way to get to know a place on an intimate level.
I usually travel with family and we like to go our way. I had group trips years ago but none of them brought me good memories. Nowadays things change and the services are tailored to customer requests. So I might also try the group trip again.
Yeah, I can totally see how mass tours with an impersonal touch can ruin your vacation. There are a lot of boutique experiences popping up, like Traverse Journeys, which is something really great and much needed.