Three New Experiential Eco-Fashion Trips Taking Off This Summer

This summer, three new eco-fashion-oriented package tours will offer the chance for ethical designers, makers and consumers to meet artisan communities, take workshops in craft production and see the impact of their conscious purchasing decisions.

While different in structure, these trips all offer the chance to travel along an artisan product’s supply chain, from visiting farming communities in Ecuador, to knitting with naturally dyed alpaca yarn in Peru, to shopping finished products in Guatemalan boutiques.

Even for people who don’t geek out on beautiful textiles and hand looms, these trips offer a different way to travel, one that emphasizes connections with the people behind your souvenirs.

Awamaki-Kollabora Collaborative Crafting Workshop

When: May 25 to June 2, 2013
Where: Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
Perfect for: Students, or travelers who seek an authentic off-the-beaten-path experience
What: “A cross-cultural tour pairing you with a Rumira knitter to develop a Kollabora knit item using local, hand-spun alpaca yarn. We trace the entire creation of your project through hands-on engagement: visiting alpaca farms high in the Andes to source fleece, learning to spin fleece into soft yarns, dyeing yarn skeins with native plant dyes alongside Quecha weavers, and studying the local backstrap loom.”
Accommodations: Home-stays with Awamaki’s host families.
Side trips: Incan ruins, markets in Cusco, Machu Picchu.
Organized by: Kollabora, an online community for DIY inspiration, projects, skills and supplies, in partnership with Awamaki, a non-profit that supports artisan groups in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Price: $1,799, which includes home-stay accommodations, most meals, day trips, guides and crafting materials. Fee does not cover international airfare to/from Cusco, visas, travel or health insurance, tips and personal purchases.
For more information: Visit the trip description page or email Global Insight Trip: Community Empowerment

When: June 30 to July 4, 2013
Where: Lake Atitlan and Antigua, Guatemala
Perfect for: People who are curious about social enterprise models and their impact on communities. Mercado Global also offers a Women Helping Women trip for women interested in mentoring and a Financial Empowerment trip for people interested in the entrepreneurial side of rural artisan businesses.
What: “An exclusive week-long journey that fuses service, leadership, and once-in-a-lifetime cultural exchange. Attendees will meet the indigenous Maya women we partner with in the Guatemalan highlands and learn about how their transformation into leaders has impacted their families and their communities.”
Accommodations: Four-star lodging in Lake Atitlan and Antigua.
Side trips: Boat trip to Santiago Atitlan, tours of colonial Antigua.
Organized by: Mercado Global, a social enterprise that links rural indigenous artisans to international markets in order to break the cycle of poverty.
Price: $1900, which includes accommodations, all meals, local transportation, guides and translation and staff support. Fee does not cover airfare.
For more information: Visit the website or contact Leah Vinton at

Fashion Designers Without Borders Immersive Sourcing Safari

When: July 22 to 28, 2013
Where: Quito, Tena and Otavalo, Ecuador
Perfect for: Fashion industry professionals who want to explore opportunities to collaborate with developing world artisans. Other sourcing safaris have taken place in Kenya and Guatemala.
What: “Climb volcanoes, trek the Amazon and get lost in cloud forests. Ecuador’s atmospheric landscapes, resources and people will enchant you. Recognize new opportunities in accessories development. Appreciate the unique resources of this truly magical place.”
Accommodations: Four- to five-star hotels in Otavalo (in the Andes), Quito and Tena (in the Amazon).
Side trips: Activities at an Amazon jungle lodge, trip to the Inga Alpaca Farm, tour of colonial Quito.
Organized by: The Supply Change, a consultancy that connects the fashion industry with global artisan communities, in partnership with The Andean Collection, a line of handcrafted accessories with a social mission.
Price: $4000, including accommodations, meals, day trips and local transportation. Fee does not cover airfare.
For more information: Visit the website or contact Chrissie Lam at

[Photo Credit: Mercado Global]

Experiential travelers get more with new iPhone app

Experiential travel is growing as travelers seek to enrich their lives with a collection of experiences. For experiential travelers, just seeing the sights is no longer enough. They want to go beyond the tourist areas and immerse themselves into authentic local culture to connect with people in ways that enrich their lives and create lasting memories. Now, a new iPhone app aims to deliver just that.

Afar is focused on experiential travel and has a new iPhone app that they consider “the antidote to clunky travel guidebooks and sites like TripAdvisor,” says Venturebeat. Afar started as a travel magazine offering in-depth articles about different locations and cultures. Their new app, released this week, goes a different direction with user-generated content.

“What is experiential travel? Experiences that connect you with the essence of a place and its people … simply seeing the sights is no longer enough,” says Tim Peck, chairman of OBMI, a firm that plans things like hotels and resorts. “Experiential travelers want to venture beyond the beaten tourist paths and dive deeper into authentic, local, culture, connecting with people from other cultures in ways that enrich their lives and create lasting memories.”

The Afar app lets users take a photo with their iPhone, type up a quick description, and add it to Afar’s library of travel experiences or check out the photos submitted by other users and start planning their next trip.
“It’s like Instagram meets Foodspotting, but with a focus on dreamy travel locations,” says Venturebeat, a thought consistent with Afar’s mission “that inspires and guides those who travel the world to connect with its people, experience their cultures, and understand their perspectives.”

AFAR Connect launches, using social media technology to bring travelers together

The buzzword in travel today? “Experiential.” Guidebooks, magazines, and even websites like this one strive to provide insider accounts of great travel experiences around the globe. But even we can’t be everywhere at once. What if the coverage of the latest city you wish to visit happened, say, two years ago? And how can one assure that the author of the article has the same travel “personality” as you?

Enter AFAR Connect, the latest platform from AFAR Media (yes, the same people who brought you the magazine). This social media based website is dedicated to connecting like-minded travelers and locals.

Using a proprietary Travel Personality technology and entry “quiz,” travelers are guided through a series of questions that categorizes them into one of 36 different groups with a corresponding color. On one end of the spectrum you’ll find the safe, relaxation-seeking traveler who prefers destinations like Florida. On the other, you’ll find the “Discoverer,” a traveler whose ideal experience would involve, say, volunteering in Haiti.

Users can ask questions about their upcoming travel plans and the site will connect the user directly with others who share their same travel profile and have intimate knowledge of the specific destination. “Tour books are generalized for the masses and lead travelers to the same spots as all the other tourists, and your friends may have general, but not in-depth knowledge of a destination,” said Derek Butcher, CTO of AFAR Media. “When looking for travel advice, it’s not who you know, but who you should know that can make the difference in your experience. Our proprietary technology facilitates intimate knowledge sharing for the enrichment of travel experiences.”

AFAR Connect continues to learn about and evolve a traveler’s personality through a user’s posts, advice, questions and travel experiences. On the site, a user can ask a question about a place that he or she is interested in visiting and the site’s technology will push the question to those users AFAR finds are best suited to answer based on their knowledge of the area and activity, as well as his or her Travel Personality. Those users are then able to engage in direct one-to-one communication that will enable the traveler to have a unique, personalized experience.

In addition, users can also comment on posts, ‘follow’ other members whose advice they value, share photos, and more. Users can create an AFAR-specific profile or log in using Facebook Connect, which will import information already stored in their Facebook profiles. The technology is the key differentiator, and ensures users receive travel recommendations from travelers who appreciate the same types of experiences as they do.

“AFAR Connect is the next step in our goal of promoting experiential travel,” said Greg Sullivan, co-founder and CEO of AFAR Media. “While the magazine is meant to inspire, AFAR Connect is a practical tool for travelers who want to pack their bags and experience a destination from a local’s perspective. For me, the best travel advice comes from locals or from other travelers who share the same values and interests as I do. Until now there was no site that could help facilitate that exchange of information on a personalized one-to-one basis.”

AFAR also encourages local businesses and travel brands to participate in the community. Businesses can set up profiles similar to travelers, and respond to questions, offer advice, and share information about their company. From airlines to snorkel shops, travel brands that participate in the spirit of the community can use the platform to drive customers to their front door.

Gadling readers interested in trying the private beta version of AFAR Connect can gain access through with code GADAFAR. The code is good for the first 100 readers.