Updated: Jan 1
Expand Your Family Circle has been Global Family Travels tagline since our inception in 2010 and as 2021 comes to a close and we pause to reflect on the past 12 months, we want to take this opportunity to honor and share some of the highlights of our proud achievements from a particularly challenging year.
Global Family Travels' vision has always been to unite humanity, while also inspiring travelers and the tourism industry to take responsibility for the many challenges and opportunities facing our increasingly interconnected planet. Despite our ongoing global pandemic, Global Family Travels held steadfast to this vision and our mission to provide meaningful travel opportunities that allow participants to Learn, Serve and Immerse when visiting destinations around the world. This mission is fulfilled in partnership with local non-profits whose focus is helping to solve social and environmental challenges.
In 2021, we continued to expand our efforts by creating new community tourism experiences in our own backyard of Seattle and throughout the Pacific Northwest region. We also deepened our mission globally with adventures for travelers of all ages that are designed to awaken the imperative need for climate action.
At its core, traveling allows for discovering other cultures and destinations while reaffirming what matters most: our shared values and connectedness. We believe that responsible travel should allow for authentic engagement and collaboration with the communities we visit, while also creating opportunities for participants to understand and support the needs of locals through inclusive and equitable economic experiences that preserve cultural heritage and the natural beauty of each destination. Amidst our global pandemic, Global Family Travels still managed to expand our own family circle in 2021 with the following accomplishments, many inspired by concepts of regenerative tourism:
1. We kicked off the year with the launch of an impactful educational experience called the Power of Community Gardens with the Black Farmers Collective at Yes Farm, a 1.5-acre urban farm located in the heart of Seattle. In alignment with our commitment to help build a just system, this tour, which is led by guides from the Black Farmers Collective, offers guests a powerful opportunity to learn about the history and development of Seattle’s land in relation to Duwamish and Coast Salish peoples, Skid Row, Japan Town, and the Central District (Seattle’s historically Black neighborhood). The Black farmers also share information about the intersections between urban farming, environmental justice, climate change solutions, and food access, while also shedding light on how urban farms (such as YES Farm and the Danny Woo Garden), provide creative solutions to address environmental racism and bring the community together.
Photo Credit: Black Farmers Collective
2. Global Family Travels expanded our services to become a professional Travel Advisor, in addition to our tour operator services. Along these lines, we shared in a blog the important the role that Travel Advisors have in helping to navigate today’s rapidly changing travel environment. Once called travel agents, the role of travel advisors has become even more critical and has grown to include keeping track of international border closures and openings, continually evolving traveler requirements, cancellation policies, and COVID testing and safety protocols.
3. In Oregon, we joined forces in the early Spring with First Nature Tours and Cascade Volunteers to develop a three-day adventure to help regenerate forests and communities in the Willamette National Forest of Oregon, where some of our country’s worst wildfires struck in 2020. Participants of this adventure learn about wildfire recovery and prevention and partake in trail building projects, while enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting on the McKenzie River. We appreciate the support of Travel Oregon's Destination Ready program to help market this adventure!
Photo Credit: Jordan McCauley/Travel Oregon
4. We continued to cultivate partnerships with several non-profit organizations in the Pacific Northwest and launched a truly regenerative adventure to Learn, Serve & Immerse in the Olympic Peninsula, an experience that includes learning about salmon habitat recovery and immersing with the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe. On this enriching three-day adventure, participants spend a half a day learning with the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and engaging in culturally immersive experiences with the tribe, including a totem tour, and carving experiences at the House of Myths. There’s also a Northwest-inspired welcome dinner, which celebrates the Jamestown S’Klallam traditions. Participants also connect to the stunning beauty of the Olympic Peninsula through a guided hike.
Photo Credit: 7 Cedars/Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe
5. In the summer of 2021, Global Family Travels expanded its family circle by partnering with the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) to develop and operate guided, family-friendly urban hikes and an urban bike adventure, which were free and open to the public. These offerings, launched as part of the DSA’s Welcome Back to Downtown Summer campaign, included the Who’s Watching you in Downtown Seattle tour led by David Williams, which was a big hit among locals. We plan to continue offering two of the urban adventures we launched this summer including the urban bike adventure Pedaling through the Past: A Seattle Urban Bike Adventure and the Seattle Waterfront Past and Future tour, in partnership with several Seattle non-profits including HistoryLink, Friends of the Waterfront, and the Seattle Waterfront Historic Association.
6. In July of 2021, in partnership with three local non-profit organizations, Global Family Travels launched our Street Hues: A Seattle Urban Art Tour. This small group walking tour guided by local graffiti artists allowed guests to explore Seattle's ever-changing street art pieces, including tags, "sticker bombs," painted murals, graffiti, and stencil pieces. This impactful adventure allows participants to learn about hot topics like power, ownership, and identity in public art from guides who are themselves part of the local street art community. We were thrilled when Street Hues was featured in the Seattle Times shortly after we launched!
7. In August, we proudly expanded our family circle to become an official partner of Visit Seattle! As part of this partnership, we unveiled our Seattle Community Tours & Regenerative PNW Adventures brochure at Pike Place Market visitor booth. Stop by the booth if you’re at the market or download the brochure to learn about our impactful, community-focused outings. In 2022, we look forward to bringing more visitors to Seattle to support and regenerate local communities.
8. Climate Action Now: As a planet, we have about one decade left to take meaningful action to address the climate crisis and avoid irreversible changes and harm to many of earth’s natural systems. We all bear responsibility for addressing climate change and reaching the net zero goal. Earlier this year, Global Family Travels wrote a blog to help educate travelers and industry partners about climate change and we took a climate action pledge (introduced in our February newsletter) to better protect our planet. In addition, we were a supporting partner for a virtual event Tomorrow's Air Convene: Climate Clever Travel, hosted by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and Tomorrow’s Air.
Global Family Travels is dedicated to helping the travelers we serve take meaningful action to protect the environment, whether that’s through organizing trips to help tackle global challenges, or planning sustainable adventures closer to home that support and protect the environment and local cultures.
9. In October of 2021, we launched our exciting new transformational adventure to Iceland: A Powerful Story to Inspire Climate Action. An Icelandic adventure, this journey encompasses awe-inspiring landscapes, majestic mountains, milky blue lagoons, and fascinating wildlife. In addition, this uniquely designed Global Family Travels experience immerses participants in the country’s living science, providing firsthand learning about Iceland’s geothermal and volcanic activity, as well as the devastating toll climate change has already taken here.
In creating this this adventure, we expanded our family circle by partnering with two impactful organizations: Sustainable Travel International, to help offset the carbon emissions generated by our visits to Iceland; and with our longtime partner, the Transformational Travel Council (TTC).
As a trip designer for the TTC, Global Family Travels created this new Icelandic adventure with transformational travel principles in mind, including creating activities and experiences that are designed to serve as catalysts for personal transformation. We offer guests the use of the Transformational Travel Journal to document their learning on this powerful adventure, and we hope the journals will also be used by travelers to set intentions for new lifestyle choices and climate actions once the trip has come to an end. Learn more about our Iceland Climate Change Adventure in our blog.
10. Last, but hardly least, Global Family Travels is a proud signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, which was launched in November at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). By signing the Glasgow declaration, Global Family Travels declared our shared commitment to unite all stakeholders in transforming tourism to deliver effective and meaningful climate action. We support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050. We will consistently align our actions with the latest scientific recommendations, to ensure our approach remains consistent with a rise of no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
We look forward to continuing out efforts to expand our family circle in many ways in the year ahead, including in early February, when Global Family Travels will attend Arival 360 in San Diego and our founder will join other travel entrepreneurs and industry thought leaders to share how designing diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) experiences are sustainable and benefit the communities we serve.
Global Family Travels is grateful for the valuable partnerships we cultivated throughout 2021, which enabled us to create more meaningful ‘expand-your-family-circle’ travel experiences and unique opportunities to help build bridges between past and present, to discover our common roots and explore the very essence of our shared humanity.
Afterall, it is in the spirit of collaboration that we can continue to help bridge divides and to protect our planet while continuing to explore all of its wonders.