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  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Congrats on getting funded Elliot! I'm looking forward to seeing your project come alive!!!

  • Ingrid C.

    This is fantastic. I dream of doing this in Manila.

  • Bug Arete

    I absolutely love this idea. Perhaps your organization will branch out to other countries to allow for such genuine experiences elsewhere, too. One thought while reading your article was, "a female never could have gotten away with that on her own." I know many women who like to travel on their own, but their activities and cultural experiences are often limited due to safety concerns. Do you have any recommendations for female travelers who like to go at it solo while getting the legitimate story of the culture they're visiting?

    Thanks for the great read!

    • Elliot Rosenberg

      Hey, Bug,

      I appreciate your encouragement. Absolutely, we're determined to make travel more immersive and meaningful for travelers and more beneficial for developing communities around the world. What we're working toward is a way to go anywhere and live someone else's life alongside that person as their friend--stay in their home, cook meals with their family, participate in their hobbies, experience their place of worship, go out with their friends, and see the sights of where they live through their eyes. Moreover, through dignified, personal sharing of their life and culture with you, they could earn a livelihood. That's our vision of travel that transforms the traveler and the destination.

      Actually, we have many single, foreign female travelers as guests, so I can direct you to what they report of their experience from our online reviews (https://www.airbnb.com/users/show/408900). A lot of these women have walked around our favelas alone late at night and have felt safer than in the more "touristy" parts of the city. Particularly, check out the reviews from guests named Shari, Joanna, Alexandra, Beccy, and Hannah.

      Of course, it remains challenging for women to travel alone. However, I recommend researching the trust and reputation features on platforms such as Airbnb, Vayable, and Couchsurfing that make it easier for females to protect themselves.

      Best,

      Elliot

      • Bug Arete

        AWESOME! Thanks Elliot! I think your program looks amazing. It's like Peace Corps, short term and minus working in schools or on water projects. That's my kind of travel. The solo female travelers (or would-be if they had confidence in doing it safely) might be a good demographic to market to. Your program looks perfect for that.

        For the record, I travel with my partner, so this is somewhat superfluous to my personal experience. But I have many female friends who love to travel, sometimes solo~ For them, knowing about opportunities like this could make all the difference.

        • Bug Arete

          *Note: not that I mind the working in schools or on water projects. After all, I'm in the middle of two years doing just that.

    • mbstrawn

      Hi Bug :)

      Just my personal experience after living in Panamá for 3 years and having traveled in Argentina and Brazil (and visiting favelas), latinos are super nice and welcoming to foreigners. I think they are more happy to talk to women than men, actually. Latino men are respectful and good people, so don't immediately think that they are all killers and rapists and can't be trusted.

      Each country is going to be completely different, of course. If you really want to learn about the culture of the place, you just have to meet and talk to locals. It's best to do this during the day, at the beach, restaurants, shopping, etc. Stick to meeting women, groups of mixed sexes and families. But tell them you'd love to experience more of their culture and see if you can exchange numbers to meet up again… honestly latino cultures in particular are extremely generous and inviting. Though speaking the local language is a huge plus...

      Or you could contact an NGO or other social organization currently working in the area. Then schedule a visit and go from there.

      Your instincts will tell you when someone is shady or not, when a situation is dangerous or not, etc. Always be cautious if you are meeting someone at night, either at a club or after people have been drinking. Generally, stick with honest people and you'll be fine. :)

      Don't be shy just because you are female, especially in latin cultures! As I said, many times it actually gives you a leg up because they know you won't cause them any harm so they are more willing to talk to you and invite you into their home, etc. But again, best with a couple or family or group of women…

      Best,
      Mary Beth

      • Bug Arete

        Thanks Mary Beth!

        In general, I feel the same way. I would of course never assume anyone is a killer or rapist or anything of the sort~ But being safe is important no matter where you are, and there are different ways to go about that in different cultures. i.e. In Vanuatu things are generally very safe, the people incredibly kind and wonderful. But around Christmas and New Years it's not a good idea to be a woman on your own at any time because it's pretty much the only time anyone here drinks alcohol--and it doesn't bring out their good side.

        I wouldn't have thought of contacting NGOs, that's a great idea! Also, if it's a Peace Corps country, seeking out the local Peace Corps is a great way to get in~ they know the ropes and they live the culture.

        Thanks again!

        Bug