Voluntourism at TBEX – Travel Blogger Exchange

I attended my first TBEX conference in Toronto last weekend. For those who don’t know, TBEX is billed as “the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, and new media content creators”. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but I thought I would check it out. I’m really happy that I decided to go. I left the conference impressed with its quality of speakers and participants.

There was a significant presence from the voluntourism community. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet some representatives of great initiatives. Here are a few of the people/organizations that I met:

1. Passports with Purpose was founded in 2008 by Debbie Dubrow, Pam Mandel, Beth Whitman and Michelle Duffy as a way to build community among travel bloggers and to give back to the places we, as travellers, visit.

In 2009, Passports with Purpose, raised nearly $30,000 and, through partnership with American Assistance for Cambodia, built a school in Cambodia. In 2010, they raised $64,128 and built an entire village in India. In 2011, they raised $90,000 to build two libraries in Zambia through a partnership with Room to Read. In 2012, Passports with Purpose raised $110,000 for Water.org. The money was used to build wells in Haiti.

The organization has a very impressive track record and I’m really interested to see what they have in store for their 2013 campaign.

2. I started having a conversation with Leigh Shulman not realizing that we had been in contact online a couple weeks ago under the name of her organization, Cloudhead. Leigh is an established travel blogger and has settled in Salta, Argentina with her family. Her and her husband Noah started working with NGOs on various volunteer projects in the community. They then set out to connect people and create collaborations that ultimately improve the skills and opportunities for all involved. Thus, Cloudhead was born.

Leigh is great and Salta is a beautiful city. If you are interested in heading to Argentina and volunteering, definitely checkout cloudhead.org.

3. The first morning of the conference, I was wandering around trying to find the main room. I ended up taking the long road and riding too many escalators. I was joined by Justin from justingwashere.com. When I started exploring the world of travel blogging last year, Justin was one of the first people who I reached out to that responded. It was pretty random that he was the first person I met the morning of the conference.

Justin has a podcast called Radical Travel. He has an episode discussing “How and Why to Volunteer Abroad“. In the podcast, one of his guests is Katie Boyer, Volunteer Director at GoOverseas.com. You should check it out.

I’m sure there were a lot more volunteer bloggers/people/organizations with great initiatives at TBEX. Unfortunately, time was limited. It would be great to hear about people and projects that I missed. Please let me know in the comments below.


  1. rcdpnepal says:

    Nice, thanks for sharing your resources. Really it is amazing, nice, i have read your hole blog especially on of like most in third paragraph is the first morning of the conference. Its nice workout keep it.
    Thank you.

  2. Hey, there! Another Andrea here! Missed you at TBEX, though.
    I did a heritage interpretation project in Bhutan a couple of years ago. I’ve written up the step-by-step plan of how I created my own opportunity to do it: http://www.greentea.tk/2011/03/how-to-create-your-own-voluntourism.html
    Maybe it will be of interest for you!

  3. If any audiologists are out there, contact me for potential opportunities in China, Vietnam, and Guatemala. http://www.andreaonvacation.com


Speak Your Mind