Blog | ExplorEquity

Updated: May 23



As summer quickly approaches, many people are finding that they’ve had to cancel or postpone trips due to travel restrictions and COVID-19. The cancellations can be heartbreaking and we need to find ways to cope with the now available time. Boredom while being quarantined is a real phenomenon. ExplorEquity wants to provide you with some short-term solutions to alleviate some of your travel blues. We asked our followers on our social media platforms what they’re doing to get their travel fixes at home and here’s what they had to say:

This is so difficult for me! It’s like telling me I can’t breathe. I LOVE to travel! I have been looking through my travel journals/photo albums and reminiscing while continuing to make a list of ALL the places I have yet to experience!” -Dra. Dulce Lopez, PsyD; @dracrzn

“I’ve been following others’ travel memories on Instagram and looking through my own photos has been quite therapeutic in that respect.”

-@joanna_suchomska


"In early March, we decided to cancel all international travel because it would put our African women farmers at risk. To cope with this, we've been doing video interviews with them. We miss traveling for conferences so we've been engaging via online conferences and coffee chats. I even have some Zambian-farmed honey to remind me of the local farms. Try it with an English muffin and peanut butter!"

- Michelle; @theharvestfund “I post daily, focus on gratitude and drool at travel photos on everyone's social media. We will definitely be traveling in the future, but just so grateful to have experienced so much prior to this.” -Simone Warren; @ruribluedestinations

I’ve been sorting through, archiving and editing years worth of travel footage. It’s been so cathartic and nostalgic! I finally have time to blog about some of these experiences as well but I’m just waiting until it’s more appropriate. I’ve been trying to stay off of social media but I have enjoyed everyone’s travel-related posts, videos and articles.” -Malou; @skiptomalouuu I bought some passion fruit butter from a local farm I visited in Hawaii and just had the most wonderful breakfast with it. I definitely miss the sensation and thrill of travel, and these small things bring me back!” -Anna I started going through my travel photos and sharing them on Instagram. I've been to 27 countries by the age of 23 and can't wait to visit every country in the world. I'm also learning how to edit photos and videos and watching way too many movies.” -Ena; @globetrottingsolo “I’ve been traveling since so long that home doesn’t feel like home anymore. I know this is just a transient moment, and I apply all the positive thinking and tolerance as I do while I travel, which I learned on the road. Second, I read a lot, learn new things, hear about new stories and work on new projects. The thrill of travel is that everything is always new. So if you get this newness shot every day, it’s a bit like travel. Third, I exchange a lot with all my friends who live all around the world and I make new friends through social media. Lastly, I get as much nature as I can by walking the countryside and helping out at a horse farm nearby.” - @Explorzila_voyage “COVID-19 has given me a new appreciation for staycations. Do I miss traveling? And am I disappointed I won’t be traveling to St. Louis, Colombia, and New Orleans? Absolutely! But with this opportunity to remain home for the past month, I’ve been able to try new recipes, discover international TV shows and films, and enjoy my staycation partner’s (and doggies’) company through it all.” - Adriana Smith, Travepreneur; @travepreneur “This time of shelter in place which has brought travel to a standstill has been difficult. Not only is travel intrinsic to my life but residing on a small isolated island, there is zero possibility of any travel without flights operating. This literal standstill hasn’t been all bad though. It has brought a whole new consciousness by awakening my senses to the treasures around me, even in my own backyard. The sounds, smells, and sights that I once overlooked couldn’t be any more apparent. I’ve returned to some of the simple things in life including enjoying the sounds of bird sounds, tending to the plants and herbs in my garden to make delicious teas and enjoying the fruits growing around me. I have been inspired to see this awakening taking place all around my island. With this new consciousness, I am optimistic that when travel resumes, travelers (including myself) and destinations alike - especially small islands - will emerge from the shelter in place to rediscover and reimagine travel that will be slower and more sustainable. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have been impacted by this pandemic.” -Marcelle; @ecoislandtraveller “My partner and I are using the time we have now during this crisis to work on our project: making sure that every travel plan made can make both the traveler and local grow. So we do research, test things, prepare everything, and we have already started giving advice on our Instagram profile.” -Majda; @majdatravels


"I'm getting my travel fix during this time by continuing to plan adventures and creating a support system of other travelers who love travel and adventures as much as I do."

-Shuntelle Paynter; @ajourneytotelle


We love all of the suggestions that were submitted to help the community! After some brainstorming, here are some additional suggestions we came up with:


Take virtual tours: Google Arts & Culture made headlines by working with art museums and cultural centers to provide a platform to showcase famous works of art (and hidden treasures) to audiences all over the world. YouTube also serves as a platform for travelers, experienced and amateur alike, to showcase their travels and adventures for major tourist areas but also areas that are more off-the-grid. Other museums and cultural centers are sharing their exhibits on a case-by-case basis so it’s worth checking out their social media pages to find out more!


Make recipes from around the world: As people are forced into quarantine, more individuals are cooking their own meals and turning to their kitchens as a place for exploration. Travelers and locals alike are sharing their recipes for authentic cuisine which you can make from home. What better way to connect with another culture than through food?


Learn international dances: The rise of TikTok allows people to share their moves within the comfort of their own homes. YouTube and TikTok are great platforms to find traditional global dances that you can practice, especially when no one is watching, and then dance with others (digitally, of course)!

Join ExplorEquity’s virtual events: Joining ExplorEquity’s virtual events like our upcoming happy hour & dialogue with our partners! We love talking and meeting all of you but we love building community even more. Virtual happy hours are a great way to bond with other travel lovers. It’s also a great way to learn more about how everyone else is coping with the lack of travel. Click here to see our upcoming events.

This list is not exhaustive so if an idea inspires you, be creative with your process! None of these will truly replace traveling to other countries, meeting the locals, and experiencing new cultures but we hope that they can help get us through this challenging time. Did we miss a really good idea? Let us know if there are other ways you’re able to get your travel fix right now!





Communities are so important, especially during this time. In this blog series, we spoke to three leaders who build communities around travel and sustainability. They gave us their insight on what they are doing to change the way they build community during this pandemic.

This interview is with Kerry Botensten, the Head of Trips for Tripsha.com. Tripsha is a community and platform for travelers who want to connect. It’s a place to meet new travelers, join curated trips, host trips and create memorable experiences with like-minded travelers.

As the Head of Trips for Tripsha, Botensten currently leads curated trips while both training and guiding hosts in successfully leading their own trips. Her trips are unique to the travelers attending, consisting of adventures off the beaten path, local experiences, current culture and lots of laughter. She credits her experience on Wall Street, working in entertainment and her passion for travel bringing her to her current role. After leaving her financial job and traveling to over 50 countries, she decided to combine her passion and her professional experience and share travel with others.


In all of your work, what have you learned about the importance of building community?

Kerry Botensten: Communities are built to bring like-minded people together, creating a bond of similar interests, similar personalities and similar processes. Communities are the foundation and support system during rough times (COVID) and the growth/inspiration during good times. You are ultimately creating a “team” which is always stronger together than separate. This is evident in our daily lives. When you’re at a baseball game, most people want to be surrounded by fans of the same team creating a community. When you’re at the gym and you take a yoga class, you’re in a community.

Travel communities are the same. Leaving your daily routine to travel to an unknown place can be scary, so travel communities can help ease this uncertainty. At Tripsha, we believe that travel Communities are extremely important for developing trust, security and a comfort level for all travelers. On a corporate level, the Tripsha community creates brand loyalty, an understanding of our mission and a unified network among our hosts and our travelers.

It then tiers down to multiple other subset travel communities. Are you adventurous? A foodie? Beachgoer? Historian? Figuring out how you want to travel, what you want to do while traveling and the pace of your travel are all key factors in travel communities you can join within our community. We know that our travelers want to find others to travel with, feel secure with, discuss travel interests with and unify with while traveling.

How did the coronavirus impact your organization and its plans for 2020? What changes do you anticipate for 2021 and beyond?

K.B.: We noticed the impact very early in the year as travelers questioned traveling internationally. The fear that came out of China had our clients hesitant about booking trips. We understood the uncertainty and wanted to support our travelers as much as possible. Due to the virus, Tripsha has postponed all trips through mid-summer and is being updated as the environment changes.

As for beyond, travel will slowly resume. I expect that the summer and fall trips for 2020 will mainly be domestic for each country. Traveling will start with transportation via road trips, trains and shorter domestic flights, not internationally. The focus will also shift away from large crowded cities to mountains, beaches, and more remote destinations. To start, travel groups will be smaller and among friends, as people adjust to being in group situations again.

In 2021, international travel will return but maybe selective on which region and type of travel as each country eases restrictions at different times.

Have you changed the way you build community right now? How have you responded? How do you plan to respond?

K.B.: We have changed the focus of our community but have not stopped building it. The focus has shifted from travel inspiration and creating groups in foreign destinations to being supportive, positive and a stabilizer for this uncertain environment. We want to be a safe positive space for travelers who have questions, concerns and need support.

What has been the impact of the coronavirus on your community’s members?

K.B.: Our members are connected because they all love to travel, to meet new friends and to travel together in groups. Right now, none of this is possible, therefore it’s creating a sense of emptiness. Most travelers feel like they have lost the ability to have a balanced lifestyle of work and travel. They are confused, anxious and want to know when life will resume and when they can travel again. Some are feeling isolated and yearning to connect with others who feel the same way. This is why we intend to keep our community present and supportive for all.

What advice do you have for everyone under quarantine, and in particular, travel lovers?

K.B.: We always say that we don’t have enough time. This is your time to learn something new, spend time with loved ones (whether virtually or at home), work out, write, meditate, cook, etc. Catching up with old friends or family will help with the lack of human contact. And travel lovers, you can still go online and plan for future trips, write about old trips, create videos and photo books from past trips. Reminiscing and celebrating past trips are positive ways to keep the travel spirit in you alive. I also strongly believe that knowledge is the key to stabilizing the mind and helping with potential anxiety. Keeping up with the news and current events will give your mind the power to create your own assumptions and feel confident with the vast amounts of information. Because of this, I have been posting the brief news highlights every morning on my Instagram stories. It’s for people who don’t have time to read/watch the news but still want to understand the highlights of the ever-changing environment. It’s true; knowledge is power.

When you look to the future, what are you hopeful for? What challenges do you foresee?

K.B.: I’m hopeful and know that we will all come out stronger, more resilient and not take as much for granted. We will also learn more about ourselves and become more confident. This time at home, without our normal socialization and time schedules, will help us realize how simple life actually is. From a financial perspective, it will also help us understand where and how we spend our money.

The challenges will be reversing the fear of social interaction: getting on an airplane, going to museums, hugging each other, eating at a restaurant, using public transportation, etc. These are all functions of society that, in a month, have become abnormal to us. It will take time, science and our communities to build this up again. I have no doubt we can and will!

What resources can you share?

K.B.: Email alerts are my savior! It’s a quick, easy way to get an idea of what you want to see whether it’s flight deals, news updates, shopping deals, etc. For the current environment, I visit the CDC website as well as the U.S. Department of State’s travel website. I also receive local city alerts (via phone).

If you’re interested in learning more about Kerry’s work and Tripsha, visit her at:

www.tripsha.com

instagram.com/botesonthego

instagram.com/tripshatravel

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Tripsha/


Updated: May 13


Communities are so important, especially during this time. In this blog series, we spoke to three leaders who build communities around travel and sustainability. They gave us their insight on what they are doing to change the way they build community during this time.

This interview is with Kelley Louise. A travel entrepreneur passionate about storytelling and sustainability, Kelley is the founder of Impact Travel Alliance, a nonprofit and community aimed at teaching travelers how to spend their money mindfully so that they have a positive impact on local communities and the environment. She also runs Elsewhere Agency, a boutique creative agency for clients in the travel/impact space.


Kelley has built her career through carefully selected opportunities in the United States and abroad, including leadership roles in entrepreneurial endeavors, social impact projects and media strategy. A content creator herself, Kelley is an avid photographer and writer. Kelley is a passionate connector and has an innate ability to build loyal and diverse communities.

In all of your work, what have you learned about the importance of building community?

Kelley Louise: Community is at the heart of our organization, and always has been. Impact Travel Alliance represents an inclusive group of curious travelers passionate about sustainable tourism – a type of travel that is far too often considered a niche within the industry.

I wrote this in a letter to our local chapter leaders recently, and it rings true to our focus on community: We are often considered the underdogs, but we are the innovators and the pioneers. We are the ones who have the courage to imagine a better future, and to push forward with the vision to build it.

By joining a community of 20k+ travelers around the world, our network offers a space to know that you’re not alone, and there are others by your side to lift you up. Sometimes, that reassurance is all you need to change the world.

How did the coronavirus impact your organization and its plans for 2020? What changes do you anticipate for 2021 and beyond?

K.L.: At Impact Travel Alliance, we’re fortunate that we’ve always been very connected digitally. In-person events are a huge part of our organization, but on a deeper level, knowing that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself is what really fuels ITA.

At the beginning of 2020, we had mapped out our core events for the year, and our big event for May was slated to showcase ways travelers could support local communities. Perhaps serendipitously, that theme is now more relevant than ever, and it was an easy decision to transition that event to focus on how travelers can support locals today in an era of digital travel (visit our Facebook page for updates on all of our upcoming events).

Have you changed the way you build community right now? How have you responded? How do you plan to respond?

K.L.: In many ways, I’ve felt a sense of returning to my roots over the past few weeks. I launched ITA with a mostly digital team of volunteers, meeting in person only on a bi-weekly basis (and five years later, that’s still how our organization runs). With some of our larger-scale events, I’ve joked that my cat is an honorary team member because I’ve organized so many logistics from my couch with him by my side. We’re in the midst of strange times, but at least for me, there have been some little work habits that have been a comforting reminder of the ways in which I started ITA in the first place.

A digital focus on engaging our community has allowed us to bring our network together from different corners of the globe. In building ITA, we’ve invested so much into developing local networks at in-person events, and it’s been a really cool experience to help facilitate international connections for the first time.

There are opportunities everywhere, and I’m grateful for the creative problem solving we’ve had to do during this time to create those moments. That type of programming is something we’ll keep doing even in a post-coronavirus world.

What has been the impact of the coronavirus on your community’s members?

K.L.: The travel industry has been thrashed, and my heart aches for my peers within the industry. I don’t know of a single travel company that hasn’t been forced into layoffs and hard budget decisions, and the part that’s really difficult to grapple with is that there’s no finish line in sight for when travel will resume.

I wrote an article in mid-March urging travelers to stay home, despite the fact that my livelihood depends on the industry. Within two weeks, I lost 95% of my income. I’m sharing my story not because I’m looking for sympathy, but because I know that it’s not unique.

Our world is hurting, and community is needed more than ever. I’ve focused my energy on bringing our network together, and a huge part of that is just reminding myself that if I need some resources or support, my peers are probably seeking it as well. Shifting my perspective to focus on ways to support others is what has led me to spearhead some efforts like our webinar on best-practices for financials. We've focused a lot of our projects on community efforts like these and you can read about some more of our programming in one of our latest newsletters.

What advice do you have for everyone under quarantine, and in particular, travel lovers?

K.L.: First and foremost, take care of yourself – both mentally and physically. A quote that’s really resonated with me is the reminder that you’re not working from home; you’re working at home during a crisis. I’ve made a commitment to myself to focus on productive habits, such as a daily yoga practice, eating healthy and even little things like making my bed every day (this article offers some peace in navigating the roller coaster of emotions from life at home). For those of us with an insatiable wanderlust, remind yourself that quarantine will not last forever, and travel will return. Until then, you can keep dreaming – and the travel industry is getting creative with creating ways for you to experience the joy of travel from home. Whether it’s a workshop with an artist from the other side of the world or an opportunity to connect with new friends, the industry is reminding us that just because we can’t cross borders right now doesn’t mean that we can’t connect with the world around us.

When you look to the future, what are you hopeful for? What challenges do you foresee?


K.L.: If I could imagine the best possible scenario from what we’re going through right now – at least for travel – it’s that the industry would wake up to the harm tourism has inflicted on our world.

Travel has this beautiful potential to empower locals, protect our environment and transform us into global citizens. But mass tourism is plagued with exacerbating climate change, overcrowding destinations and creating generic and boring experiences.


Shifting our perception to value quality over quantity is so important, and perhaps the coronavirus could offer the industry a chance to reset the traditional approach. But as all good things are, it’s easier said than done, and a more sustainable travel industry requires buy-in from stakeholders all across the sector, and that’s a big undertaking for an industry that accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP. It’s a long road, but that’s why Impact Travel Alliance exists. What resources can you share?

K.L.: If you find yourself asking what you can do to help, remember that sustainability is a lifestyle that starts at home. Familiarize yourself with what sustainable tourism looks like, get really curious about the world around you and never stop learning. If you’re in need of some inspiration, you can always connect with our community of fellow travelers. If you’re interested in learning more about Kelley’s work and Impact Travel Alliance, visit:

impacttravelalliance.org.