Regenerative Travel Company unites travelers and communities

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Got the travel bug? Well, Jennifer Spatz certainly does! Her wanderlust stems from the fact that she lived abroad with her family and was immersed in many cultures as a child through her father’s career in the foreign service.

This upbringing has had a major impact on how the world sees it today. And how it helps others see the world. Now an anthropologist with a background in international development, Spatz creates experiences that help travelers form deep connections with the places they visit and the people they meet.

Spatz owns and operates Worldwide family travel, a Seattle-based tour company specializing in tours with a big mission. Her vision is to unite humanity and inspire travelers to take responsibility for the challenges and opportunities of our increasingly connected planet. The company was founded with a mission to provide authentic, community-based travel experiences that empower participants To learn, To serveand Dive.

The goal, says Spatz, is to promote cross-cultural understanding, destination stewardship and better global citizens.

“No matter where you go, there are opportunities to learn about the history, culture, food and people.” she said. “Doing this allows you to get out of your comfort zone and push aside any preconceived notions you might have had.”

Whether participants embark on a day-long Seattle-area community adventure, a customized trip, or a small-group global adventure, each experience offers a unique blend of cultural and educational activities, as well as a community engagement component to create positive… Achieving results impacting people’s lives and the natural habitats they visit.

As spring and summer travel heats up in Seattle, Global Family Travels is launching past and future waterfront tours for the season, as well as other local and regional tour options for visitors and locals to discover something new. With the 2022 Alaskan cruise season kicking off this spring in Seattle, Global Family Travels has signed an agreement with American Cruise Lines (ACL) to offer passenger shore excursions.

Learn, Serve, Immerse

Spatz started Global Family Travels in 2010 with an adventure to the northern Indian region of Ladakh, rooted in the To learn, To serveand Dive Model. Once an independent Buddhist kingdom at the crossroads of important trade routes between China and the Middle East, Ladakh is often referred to as “Little Tibet”. The tour is still offered today and supports the Siddhartha school project, a non-profit organization that supports quality education for children in the area while honoring and promoting local culture and traditions. This summer, the trip will be offered with a focus on culture and climate change issues related to the water crisis in the region.

Near or far, every Global Family Travels excursion benefits the local community by partnering with a local non-profit organization. When developing a new tour, Spatz begins by interviewing people and organizations representing the community to learn more about their mission, challenges, and what it would look like to bring visitors along. When the organizations are well-matched, they collaborate on experiences that connect with local people, cultures and the natural beauty of the destination. Activities support the needs of local people while preserving cultural heritage and natural beauty.

Global Family Travels tours and activities often focus on this United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future. Goals include education, access to clean water, conservation, gender equality and the preservation of diverse and indigenous cultures.

Regenerative travel and community tourism

Global Family Travels addresses a previously unoccupied niche in the travel market.

“After the pandemic, more people who are traveling now want to do so meaningfully and are looking for ways to do so.” She said. “They want to travel with a conscious mind and intent to learn about a destination.”

These regenerative experiences encourage conscious reflection on how to give back to communities and economically support small businesses and a destination’s natural environment.

“At Global Family Travels, we aim to promote unity and cross-cultural understanding,” said spaetz. “For example, if you do a tour that supports Peruvian artisans or potato farmers, empower them and uplift them. But what if the tour is over? Not everyone has the privilege or means to travel. How will you tell what you have learned? Even after the trip, your travel experience remains in pictures and memories. You can reinforce that and share some of the things you’ve learned.”

It is part of the concept of regenerative tourism to ensure that travel experiences are designed to benefit diverse communities and consciously improve social and environmental systems. It is an approach that goes beyond sustainable travel to redefine the role of the tourism industry in the communities and ecosystems it depends on and to put the destination at the center of the tourism experience.

Participants in a Street Art Seattle Community Tour

Encouraging Communities

In 2017, Spatz brought this concept of socially conscious travel to the Seattle area when she founded the Seattle Chapter of the Impact Travel Alliance with the goal of educating travelers about sustainable and community tourism. In 2018, the group welcomed guests from the peace boat, a Japan-based international non-profit organization working for peace, human rights and sustainability. When the ship made a stop in Seattle, Spatz helped curate field trips and events that aligned with the group’s mission.

Shortly thereafter, she began managing Seattle tours under Global Family Travels. Following the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, she worked with Western Washington University students to explore how to address the challenges of racial injustice and injustices exacerbated by COVID-19. Spatz focused on creating one-day, community-based tours in collaboration with nonprofit partners that cater to locals who have been unable to travel during the pandemic. These new tours partner with Seattle-area nonprofits to address social issues and support local communities and businesses through unique stories, perspectives, and engaging activities.

“We wanted to bring meaningful adventures to local people in their own backyards,” She said. “As we develop these experiences, we look at what is unique and how we can tell the story of American culture in underrepresented communities.” This involves working with diverse communities interested in their cultural heritage, collective memories as well to share ecological and historical perspectives in the destination.

learn locally

Participants listen to the guide on a Seattle Community Tour.

Rather than operating as a normal tour operator, Global Family Travels focuses on building relationships, creating experiences and telling stories to help people learn about challenges from different perspectives.

Here is a selection of tours in Seattle:

Street Colors: Seattle Urban Art Tour

Created in collaboration with 206 Zulu, Experience Education and Urbanists, this tour explores the diverse street art in the Capital Hill neighborhood, from graffiti, tags and “sticker bombs” to intricate spray paint, brushwork and stencil pieces, while covering topics such as Property, Power and Identity in Art in Public Space. Learn more>

The power of community gardens with the Black Farmers Collective

This enriching community experience at YES Farm, located in historic Seattle near Yesler Terrace, offers a powerful way to learn how the Black Farmers Collective find some creative solutions to growing food and building a community has developed. Learn more>

Waterfront Past and Future: A constantly evolving coastline

In partnership with the history linkthis tour explores the history, communities and parks that make up Seattle’s waterfront while learning some history along the way! Learn more>

learn regionally

This spring and summer, Spatz is excited to add multi-day tours that combine the energy of Seattle with the beauty of surrounding areas like the San Juan Islands or the Olympic Peninsula.

Olympic Peninsula: Learn, Serve, and Immerse in Support of Salmon Habitat

An upcoming tour introduces participants to the beauty of the North Olympic Peninsula while learning about salmon habitat restoration and the cultural traditions of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe while staying at their beautiful hotel, 7 Cedars . Learn more>

Oregon: Regenerating forests and communities from wildfires

Lace up your boots and hit the trails of the Willamette National Forest in Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range to learn about wildfire recovery and prevention, and to help with trail building projects. Learn more>

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