GeoVisions Blog

The Best 3 Minute Travel Video Ever

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jul 14, 2014

I posted this video sometime ago, and wanted to post it again since we're in the peak travel time for most people.

"People have a love affair with adventure. We feel it inside like a current in the wind, and it drives us to step outside the ordinary."

It is a video by Grand Trunk, Goods for the Road.  You can take a look over on  Before you do, take 3 minutes and watch the most amazing 3 minute video about travel ever made.

And of course ... get in touch with us here at GeoVisions.  We live this video everyday. 

Tags: Travel Is Transforming, Make Something Happen

I Do This Because Of An Italian Jacket

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jun 02, 2014

I was a high school English teacher from 1972 to 1979 ... in Kansas.

In 1974 I saw a film from AIFS (The American Institute For Foreign Study) that I showed to my classes, which eventually changed many lives.  You can see a brief clip here from an old 16mm film.  The school board met and decided I would not be allowed to take students to Europe because they didn't want to upset families who couldn't afford such a trip.

1976 Lodging

Never a teacher to let the Board of Education decide my fate, the following year, in 1975, I rented a room in the local bank and I held meetings there.  In my first year I took 13 students to five countries for 30-days.  I did that every year from 1975 through 1979, ending with 80 students, five countries, 30-days.  I joined AIFS full time in 1979 and headed to Greenwich, Connecticut from the classroom in Kansas.

But the point of this particular story is what motivated me to do this in the first place, and to make it my career for the last 39 years. It boils down to a jacket bought in Florence, Italy.

The AIFS film I showed in all my classes is one thing.  That got everyone excited to travel abroad for the month of July through Greece, Italy, Austria, France and England.  We designed our itinerary, held meetings, invited parents and the thing just took on a life of it's own.

During that first year our group was visited by a young man who worked for AIFS and he came to one of our meetings.  That, of course, gave our group another shot in the arm and it went a long way for the parents to see that AIFS would send someone to a meeting and it gave AIFS and me a lot of credibility.

When that young man walked through the door, he brought fresh air with him.  And he wore a stunning (for 1975) leather Italian jacket and he had a beard and long hair.  And I loved that jacket.  During the meeting he told everyone he had just flown in from Italy where he had attended an AIFS staff meeting in Rome and he took some time to sit atop Palatine Hill where he overlooked the Roman Forum and contemplated the value of student educational travel.  And then he went to Florence to see a group of teachers and students and he bought the jacket he was wearing at a leather shop in Florence.

I was a guy who had grown up in the farmland of Oklahoma.  I was teaching in very rural Kansas.  Having a job like his was unthinkable.  Well, it was totally unimaginable for someone like me.  What?  You get paid to fly around the world, sitting atop ancient hills, taking notes while looking out upon ruins, and you make enough money to buy a leather jacket IN Italy?  Get out!

I decided at that moment I was going to get a job like that.  There was no question that I would do whatever it took to have a job exactly like his.  It's all I thought about from that point on.

You should not be surprised to read that our group formed and we left for Greece.  We went to Rome and yes, we drove to Florence and stayed there 2 nights.  I broke away from the group, found the shop and I bought a jacket exactly like the AIFS rep's jacket.  Although it was very hot in Florence, Italy in July 1976 ... I had my Bicentennial Passport and I wore that new jacket.  Sweat took on a new meaning but I had wrapped myself, literally, in my future.

By the time we got to London 2 weeks later I had started a beard.

In the summers of 1977, 1978 and 1979 I did this each time but with far more than 13 students.  I wore my Italian jacket to meetings, I grew out my hair and had a pony tail.  In 1979 we needed two, forty-passenger coaches to hold everyone.  And before we left for Greece I got a call from the President of AIFS ... Hank Kahn ... and he wanted to fly out to that odd state with lots of high school students who travel to Europe and meet me in person.  He couldn't understand how I could recruit that many high school students in Kansas to follow me to Europe for a month.

By the time he flew back to Connecticut a day later, he had offered me a full time job.  In Greenwich, Connecticut.  For twice what I was making as a teacher.  In September of 1979, I left classroom teaching where I was making $8,600 a year and stepped onto the platform of international educational exchange for $19,000 a year, and oh yes ... he threw in $1,500 of moving expenses.  I had never seen so much money.

Italian jackets from Florence

I have lived my dream for 39 years.  Even today at almost 65 years of age, I still wake up and start my day knowing I followed my passion.  I love my work.  I love everything about it.  It is what I think about when my eyes open, and it is the last thing I am thinking about when my eyes close at night and my days are never done.  I still keep in touch with students who traveled with me all those years ago.

There are times I miss the classroom.  And then there's last March when I walked through the Roman Forum, looked over at Palatine Hill and smiled.  I took out my notebook and jotted a few things down.

Tags: Travel Is Transforming, Make Something Happen, Randy LeGrant

19 Travel Abroad Resolutions For 2014

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Dec 11, 2013

A volunteer on a mountain in Jordan.Where I really let myself down on New Year's resolutions is what I'm eating and how much I weigh.  Ugh.  By the end of August I had lost 10 pounds and right now I've put it all back on again.  So I guess the good news is I don't have to worry about gaining more weight if I make a resolution to lose that 10 pounds I recently found.

With travel, though, it "should" be easier.  We travel with a purpose, even if the purpose is to have fun or simply get a tan.

I saw an article entitled 21 Travel Resolutions for 2014 in the Huffington Post.  I could only find 19 resolutions in the article and I went over it twice.  So I'm listing them out for you here and inviting you to get us to 21 (or more)!

These 19 are great, and worthy of anyone's attention.  But the one that resonated with me the most was to stop using Yelp.  If travelers only knew "behind the scenes" of reviews.  These are the bane of my existence.  Travel reviews cheapen the experience because some of the things you like, I'm not going to like.  And there are simpletons out there who will only follow the crowds and shun an establishment (any establishment) that doesn't have a great rating on Yelp or a very positive review online.  If you are a travel pro, get a travel show on CNN.  Otherwise?  Keep your opinions to yourself, please.

  1. Work less, play harder.  Written by the guy who's writing this at 3:30 a.m.
  2. DON'T over pack.  I actually am having a contest with myself to pack less and less on each trip. I wrote a Blog post about some new packing apps last week.
  3. Overcome a fear.  Any fear.  The photo that comes with this resolution in the original article is of someone bungee-jumping.  I won't do that, but I will overcome my fear of not drinking enough wine in France.
  4. Take at least one de-stressing break, even if it's only for a day.
  5. Combine your talents, i.e. painting with a local charity that helps construct homes in a place you want to go.  GeoVisions has 75 of those available, by the way.
  6. Get lost.  I did this in Manchester, England of all places.
  7. Vow to learn a little.
  8. Take better pictures and create better keepsakes of the moments.  To this I would add, limit yourself to upload only one photo a day to Facebook and Instagram, stop checking in every place you walk in to, delete 95% of your travel photos after a trip and stop taking photos of the food on your plate at every meal and posting them online.
  9. Start a conversation with a local.  I did and was invited to an artist's apartment in Venice. A lasting memory.
  10. Read something on the history of your destination before you get there.
  11. Stop being all Type A and let someone else handle the planning details (at least a few of them).  My 15 year old daughter is going to live in France this summer.  We're letting her lead the way in airports and train stations to get her better prepared.
  12. Be spontaneous and open to straying from your itinerary. The best meals, the best photo opportunities, the best memories take place when you least expect it, and when it isn't on the itinerary.
  13. Stop obsessing over Yelp reviews and going to the "best" place.  To this I would also add never, ever write a review or read one again. Ever.  Ever again. Ever. Not ever. Nada.
  14. Be nice and helpful to tourists...which, yes, contradicts everything we ever say about tourists.  I was in Istanbul and I had to share a taxi with 2 other Americans. Incredibly they only had American dollars for the taxi. Doesn't everyone on planet Earth want US Dollars?  I ended up paying ... in Turkish Lire of course ... and remarkably, I was nice about it.
  15. Travel within your own hometown.
  16. Use all your vacation days and use them wisely. Take a buffer day to recuperate. I have actually started departing on Friday and returning on a Friday to have the weekend to learn how to feed the dog all over again.
  17. Create a travel piggy bank and make a habit to add to it.
  18. Pick out one specific location you've always wanted to go and research how to get there, save up and GO.
  19. Don't put off to tomorrow what you can book (and enjoy) today.
You can read the article from the Huffington Post here, and if you find all 21 resolutions let me know.  If you have your own to share, please do so in the Comments section below and we'll post them.

Tags: Travel Ideas, Make Something Happen, Travel Humor

The Next Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Feb 12, 2013

Yesterday I wrote a post about The Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad. In all honesty, the post was "The Ten Things..." but I typed so much, no one was going to read such a long Blog post.  So I cut it in half.  Here are the other five:

6. It's Impossible To Travel Alone
I'm not good around a lot of people.  I'm very shy and I have to work hard to be chatty with strangers.  But what I discovered quickly is that whether or not the person you sit next to on the plane chats you up or someone in a bar in Madrid sits down next to you and starts talking…you're meeting people. Taxi drivers love to practice their English and someone in the hotel bar has always missed their flight. The police officer giving you directions will usually ask where in the States you're from. You cannot travel alone, even if you try. Don't fight it. Listen and learn. Enjoy the random acts of good directions or the discussion of politics. Some of my fondest travel memories involve total strangers.

7. It's Impossible To Make People At Home Understand
35 mm color slidesIn my early days of travel, I took hundreds of photos. Back in those days they were "slides" and basically they consisted of film set between a small frame of cardboard. You put them in Kodak slide trays of 80 to 120 and started showing them in a darkened room. My family really could have cared less…they had never traveled anywhere to speak of. And people who had traveled somewhere had not traveled where I had been and they just didn't get all the little innuendos in my photos. When I tried to talk to them about people I met, meals I had eaten and artifacts in museums…all of that fell on well-meaning, but disinterested ears and minds.

Entire chapters are written for returning students…a basic cause of reentry culture shock or reverse culture shock as we call it in our profession.  The University of Iowa has a great article about Reverse Culture Shock.

How can you cope if you are back from doing something that changed and shaped your life and the feeling is that no one really gets it?

What works for me is that I take photos and videos and document my travels really well. You will find a few of my travel journals on our Community Pages.  A couple over on Everlater.  Some here at my home.

Then I turn them into a book at the Apple Store or some other place and use travel quotes to set off the photos from my daily journal. Someone is going to pick up that book at your house or read online and start enjoying all those interesting travel quotes and then start asking some questions. because using quotes draws people in, and once you hook them and they become will attract a lot more interest in your travels.

8. Knowing The Purpose Of Your Journey Brings Great Results
When the intentions of your trip are supported by a "why" that has meaning, you will find a way to bring them to life on your travels. Making the most of our journey is a matter of continuing to remember why you have chose to do this trip in the first place.

One of the best things about working at GeoVisions is listening to everything people want to accomplish on their GeoVisions program.

In the end focused and persistent effort along the way will help you enjoy a successful trip. When your travel efforts are driven by your purpose, you can keep enjoying exciting trips for a lifetime.

9. A Positive Vision Makes A Big Difference
One of our most read posts is "Think Traveling Or Volunteering Abroad Is Too Expensive? Think Again."  Our Social Media Manager, Alexandra, wrote that post.

If you envision a trip as achievable, it will be. Envision yourself packing, buying your plane ticket and arriving at your destination. Hold that image firmly in your mind and each step will be in this direction. If I want something badly enough, I tack a picture of it above my desk so I see it everyday, all day.

If you choose crowd funding, this positive vision makes your online profile believable, and you'll attract bigger donations.  Knowing you are going to do this project gets you half way there.

map of places I've traveled10. Your Journey Is Ultimately What You Make Of It
There is no such thing as a perfect trip. What does exist is a continuous series of imperfect travel moments filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities for you to interpret them and do with them as you please. What you don't accomplish on this trip can be accomplished on the next one.

You can pave the road you travel with frustration that you "didn't do it all" or "I am not finished." Either way you are going to arrive at the same destination. The only question is, do you want to arrive there with a frown or a smile?


So here, then, are the Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad. I hope breaking the post into two didn't confuse anyone.

Last week I showed some of our staff my scrapbook of my first trip abroad.  1976.  They were amazed that I had kept the itinerary, photos, and even currency in that old scrapbook these past almost 37 years.  I keep it because it reminds me of what got me to today, and why today is so important and why each trip is something to share.

I'd love to read your comments and ideas about things you wish you knew before you made your first trip abroad.  We have space below if you feel up to sharing.

Tags: Make Something Happen, Randy LeGrant

The First Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Feb 11, 2013

I took my first trip abroad in 1976. As an American, that was our Bicentennial year and so my passport was in celebration of that fact. I still have it.

Since then, I've traveled abroad almost every year and multiple times in a year. Even as I grow older, I look forward to traveling as a renewal. I'm eager to go, I'm eager to return.

When my father was alive and he would travel to visit me, the first thing he would do was put his small travel bag by the back door. "This way I won't forget it when I leave." That was almost before he hugged me "hello." He was preparing for his departure the moment of his arrival. Now I get it. We all want to enjoy our trip, of course. We all look forward to our "stuff" and getting back into some kind of routine at the end.

All of this made me want to come up with a list of 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad.  For brevity, I am sharing my top five things in this post, and tomorrow I'll share the next five things.

Teaching English abroad doesn't have to be a lonely adventure.

1. Uncertainty About The Trip Is Certain
Will I make it to the airport on time? Did I pack everything? Will there be a delay, which will cause me to miss a connecting flight? When I land, will anyone speak my language? How much time, really, do I have to make my connection and is it easy? What kind of transport will I use when I get to my final destination? Can I trust the taxis? Do I have enough cash in the local currency?  Will I know how to buy a ticket on the train? What do I do with this luggage while I wait 6 hours to check into my hotel? Will it be safe? If I'm staying with a host family (most GeoVisions' programs) will they like me? Will I like them? Is the house noisy? Will I like the food? Is there ANY privacy? The Internet: Do they have access?

Do you know 100% of our participants go over these questions, and more? It's normal. Nothing about travel and cultural exchange is certain. And, isn't that ONE reason you're traveling? What other uncertainties do you think about? You can write them in the Comments section below.

2. Your Itinerary Is A Circle
Even if you start in one place and end up in quite another…you will come home eventually. But your itinerary is far more than a list of places you will you see and a list of places you will go.

This is how all of my itineraries begin:  If you want to be rich, be generous. If you want to make friends, be friendly. If you want to be understood by others, take the time to truly understand them. If you want to be heard, listen.

If you want to have an interesting life, be interested the happenings around you, no matter where you are.

If you want the world to change, start with the one in the mirror.

I have learned that if I begin any trip with these words written down, it really doesn't matter if my plane is late, my taxi gets lost or if I miss a meal.

TaeKwon-Do tournament in New Jersey.3. Discipline Is The Mother Of All Virtues When You Travel
I am preparing to test for my 3rd Degree Black Belt in TaeKwon-Do. I have five Gold medals in International competition.  (And, I get to train with 3 of my children...)  I lead my entire life by the Five Tenets of TaeKwon-Do. I manage GeoVisions by those same Five Tenets:

Self Control
Indomitable Spirit

You don't have to kick high and break boards to live your life by these five tenets. You just have to live them.  They bring discipline into your life and the space needed to take a breath and "persevere" on.

4. You Have Full Control Of Your Fears
Your fear is 100% dependent on YOU for its survival, and it is the only thing standing between you and your travel goals. Deal with your fears; don’t let them deal with you. And know that 100% of the people who put their butts in an airplane seat are in the midst of controlling their fears about their trip. We're all in various stages, that's all.

In October 2012, I started my 39th year of professional travel. And still, I have fears to deal with when I travel.

5. Good Travel Buddies Are Priceless
Finding someone to travel with is easy. When I announce I'm headed to [blank] for a week to 10-days, I have a line out my office door of people who want to tag along. Especially my kids.

I love to travel with my wife, Rebecca. Other than her disdain for museums (and I love them…) she makes a fantastic travel partner. She doesn't look it, but she is very adventurous when she travels and will hike mountains and volcanoes like a pro.

My 2nd favorite travel buddy is someone I work with and don't see enough. Ray is our station chief in Paris. He travels easy and light. He loves good food and good wine and when he travels he is jolly all the time. I never pass on an opportunity to travel with Ray.

Even if you depart by yourself...keep any eye out for someone to travel with.  Your trip will bloom.


Do you have comments about these five things I wish I'd known when I started traveling?  If so, please use the Comments section right below.

Tomorrow I'm going over the next five:

It's Impossible To Travel Alone

It's Impossible To Make People At Home Understand

Knowing The Purpose Of Your Journey Brings Great Results

A Positive Vision Makes A Big Difference

Your Journey Is Ultimately What You Make Of It

See you back here tomorrow!

Tags: The Well Prepared Traveler, Make Something Happen, Randy LeGrant

How to Fundraise To Work or Teach Abroad

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Nov 13, 2012

Guest post by Billy Beltz
Co-Founder & CMO
Volunteer Forever

For many people traveling abroad and participating in a meaningful activity such as volunteering, studying, teaching, or interning can be a life-changing experience. But the costs associated with these trips can be overwhelming, especially for young people. A recent graduate may have the time, passion and dedication to serve or learn overseas but not the funds. They might be surprised, however, how willing their personal network is to help them make the trip a reality. At Volunteer Forever we’ve created a solution to help harness that collective support and allow travelers to raise funds for their trip abroad.

The Volunteer Forever fundraising solution is built off the concept of allow users to create a campaign page that conveys their story and fundraising needs in a simple yet powerful way, and provides them with the tools to promote the campaign to their extended network. This is basically what many people refer to as ‘crowdfunding.’ If done correctly it can allow people to reach exponentially more donors than they ever would have through traditional fundraising methods.

Interested? The first step is to create a campaign page on Volunteer Forever. But setting up your page is the easy part- the success of your fundraising campaign is determined by what you do afterwards! So here are 7 tips to ensure you optimize your fundraising campaign:

  1. Give a Good First Impression. Because you may not be speaking to some of your donors directly, your profile page must present a strong first impression for your fundraising project and goals. Include all of the information on your profile that potential donors will want - your itinerary, a purposeful budget and most importantly, the details of the organization and project you plan to work with.

  2. Playing with an elephant in ThailandTell Your Story. Your campaign page should be much more than the basic facts of where you’re going and how much money you need to raise. People respond to stories, so make sure your page explains yours. If you’re volunteering, why are you choosing to serve and what do you hope to achieve? If you’re studying abroad, how do you foresee this trip impacting your life now and in the future? Don’t hold anything back- this is a life-changing experience, and the more enthusiastic you are about your trip the more likely it is they’ll get excited too.

  3. Share Your Page. Spread the word among everyone you can! This may include family, friends, past teachers, co-workers, community members, or even just people that you know on a Christmas-card basis. A good first step is to use the “Share” widget on your campaign page to promote the page through email, Facebook and Twitter.

  4. Ask Your Contacts to Share Your Page. Don’t limit your outreach to just people you think have the money to donate. One of the most powerful benefits of our crowdfunding platform is that it makes it easy for others to share your page and reach an exponentially larger network. So when you share your page, ask people to share it with their contacts as well! If you don’t ask they may not even realize how they can help.

  5. Take Advantage of Holidays & Special Events. No matter what time of the year you’re running your campaign, there’s usually some kind of holiday or special event you can integrate into your campaign. If you’re in the U.S., take advantage of having everyone around for Thanksgiving. Make donations to your campaign the first thing you ask for as a Christmas, birthday, or graduation gift. And use other holidays or family get-togethers as an opportunity to show everyone your campaign page in person all at once.

  6. Thank you message on the beachThank Donors Publicly. People love recognition and this is your chance to give them well-deserved praise! Make it public so that everyone can see that someone has contributed to your campaign- this will help get additional donations from others. Also, when you thank your donors make sure to ask them to help you spread the word among their contacts as well.

  7. Share Your Page Again. And Again. You will be much more successful in raising funds if you continue to share your campaign multiple times. People may need several reminders before they take action. And use your campaign timeline to create a sense of urgency, especially towards the end.

Remember- the wider audience you reach, the more likely it is that you’ll catch the attention of people who will donate to your cause. If your story is engaging and persuasive enough, you may find that you exceed your fundraising goal, as some users have already done on Volunteer Forever! And then suddenly your dream of travelling abroad in a meaningful way becomes a reality.

Volunteer Forever makes it easier for people to find and fund their volunteer abroad trips. The website features program reviews to help volunteers discover and select the right overseas placement, as well as a unique crowdfunding platform that allows users to tap into the power of their extended networks and raise funds for their trip more effectively. To learn more visit

Tags: Make Something Happen, Fundraising

Think Traveling or Volunteering Abroad Is Too Expensive? Think Again

Posted by Alexandra LeGrant on Tue, Oct 16, 2012

Every now and then we like to trot out a post that has done really well over the course of the last few months.  And this is one of them.  This particular post has been read 2,220 times since March.  That's 10 reads a day, 7 days a week for the last 228 days.  So, we thought we'd offer it up to those of you who are new or failed to see it before.  One of the best we have ever written.  Thanks to Alexandra, our Social Media Manager here at GeoVisions for writing it.


Traveling Fund

How many times have you told yourself or others that you’ll travel abroad once you have saved enough money?  Now, be honest with yourself, how much money have you really saved?

If you are like most people who are scraping by to pay their bills and are thankful even for a boss from hell just to get a paycheck every two weeks, you probably haven’t saved a penny for your travel the world dream fund.

Take a look at these links to see how some other people made their traveling dreams a reality and how to move past your "it’s too expensive" thoughts that might be holding you back.

Volunteer Forever. This website is amazing and allows you to fund your dreams and bring them to reality. Crowd funding for traveling abroad made easy and straight forward. This article tells you why now is the best to time volunteer abroad and take advantage of the financial crisis. There are 5 specific reasons you could probably relate to. Read this blog entry from a person who spent three years traveling abroad and actually saved money by doing so. It is possible! Why you should quit your job and travel around the world… Don’t let your excuses hold you back from what you want out of YOUR life.    

The truth is, you could actually save yourself money by traveling abroad without much financial preparation. It sounds like a crazy idea, but when you think about how much you spend every week (gas, coffee, lunch with a co-worker, dry cleaning, take-out dinners, entertainment, etc) it really adds up, and you could end up spending $200-$300 a week indulging in your day-to-day expenses and hardly blink an eye.

Add this on top of rent or a mortgage, utilities, car loan, gym fee, phone bill, and cable you are probably spending at least $2,000 a month if not more just to live. Now, maybe you have roommates and live frugally, and actually get by on a lot less than that amount, but I’m going to tell you just how much it would cost you to travel or volunteer abroad and I guarantee the numbers will surprise you…  overflowing piggy bank

1. Sell your car or have a friend or family member drive it and help you out with car payments while you are abroad, it’s a win/win! Cha-ching! Save yourself on rent by subletting your place while you travel. It is considerably less to live with a host family abroad, and with GeoVisions it is included in your program fee along with most of your meals. Entertainment while abroad can be as simple as visiting and touring local sites (often times free), and depending on where you are traveling you can get a meal for just a few dollars (that’s less than what you would pay for your daily latte at Starbucks).  Be sure to steer clear of touristy traps for day trips and rentals, and if you are staying with a host family you should have no problem getting the ‘local’ going rate and finding out where the best deals are.

2. If you’re looking for some extra cash before you travel, have a yard/garage sale and get rid of your clutter at the same time. If you have a lot of ‘stuff’ not only will this result in some extra cash (possibly a few weeks worth of spending money while abroad) but when you come back home you’ll already have your spring cleaning done!

Where to next?3. Traveling the world can be great, but why not enhance your resume by volunteering or working abroad? With GeoVisions, you have the option to participate in Au Pair programs (the placement fee for most is only $850), apply for a PAID internship, or live with a family and teach them conversational English, no teaching experience required. The time you spend on these projects will give you unique experience that you can use when you come home to get a better job than the one you have now! If you don’t want to make a long- term commitment, GeoVisions offers a two-week conversation corps program in Italy for $755 and Spain for only $715. The program fees usually include your room and board along with extensive health insurance.

So, with just a bit of preparation and getting in the right frame of mind (getting past your hesitations), traveling abroad can be a lot simpler than you probably have thought. Of course, don’t just take my word for it, do some research and ask around and be sure to check out those helpful links at the top of this page. Happy traveling!

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Conversation Corps, The Well Prepared Traveler, Make Something Happen, Volunteering Abroad

Volunteer Abroad And The Resume Dilemma

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Sep 27, 2012

Guest post by Sherry Ott

Sherry Ott is a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer with one goal in mind - to make you wish you were somewhere else.  She seeks out unique travel experiences and writes about her around the world adventures on    She’s also a co-founder of  a website and national travel event teaching you how you can take your very own traveling career break or sabbatical.

Meet Plan Go Logo 

Should you or shouldn’t you – it’s the big resume question?  You’ve finished your volunteering placement and had the time of your life traveling around the area and learning about the culture of your host family or placement.  But now you are staring at that gap on your resume wondering if you should mention your volunteer experience or not.  Is volunteering something that hiring managers even care about?

A recent LinkedIn survey found that 41 percent of the professionals surveyed stated that when they are evaluating candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience. Twenty percent of the hiring managers surveyed agree they have made a hiring decision based on a candidate's volunteer work experience. 

In a recent article about volunteering and it’s career relevance, CNN Money reported "What we're hearing on the employer side is that if the volunteer experience is relevant to your career goal, include it."

Volunteer Abroad on a career break in IndiaSo – how to you make sure that your volunteering experience is relevant to your career?  You can start by choosing your geographic location carefully.  Are you in an industry that manufactures in China, then maybe volunteering in China to learn more about the culture there is a good start.  Or maybe you are in the IT industry and volunteering in places like India will be a good career enhancing experience.

Next you can consider what type of work are you doing on your volunteer assignment.  Are you leading others, managing a classroom and schedule, working with conservation or medicine – there are a world of opportunities out there to volunteer and build your tangible skills and soft skills alike.

When you return, you will need to consider the best way to highlight those experiences to enhance your job search or career.  Volunteering can demonstrate a commitment to character, signal your ability to accomplish a goal, or show that you are a well rounded person.  It will most definitely make you stand out among other applicants. 

And sometimes volunteering has other benefits to your career  - like helping you understand what it is that you love to do, or helps you network and meet new people in different parts of the world who can further your career.

Sherry Ott volunteering in IndiaVolunteering on my career break travels changed the trajectory of my own career and life.  It was through my volunteering assignment in India that essentially Meet Plan Go! was born. Michaela, my now business partner, worked for the company I was volunteering with and we became friends.  Through that friendship we discovered our passion of career break travel and were determined to bring career breaks to American society in the form of Meet Plan Go events across the country!  We are now on a mission to put a career break on every resume.  We are accomplishing this by teaching others how they can take a career break or sabbatical, plan a purposeful itinerary, and return to the workforce again with more experience and knowledge. 

Your volunteering experience as part of your travels is valuable – so don’t hide it on your resume, proudly display it as part of your career travels and accomplishements.

And if you don’t know where to start when it comes to preparing and planning purposeful itineraries as part of longer term extended travel and career breaks – then don’t miss the Meet, Plan, Go! Travel event October 16th in 10 cities across North America.  At each event you’ll be inspired to do meaningful long term travel that includes volunteering among other cool knowledge building ideas.  In addition, you’ll be guided through the process of planning and taking a career break or sabbatical so that you can get started on achieving your own travel dreams. 

To learn more about Meet Plan Go! events – go to and get your tickets to your travel dreams today.

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Tags: Make Something Happen, Resume, Volunteering Abroad

GeoVisions Wins The Work and Travel Video Of The Year

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Sep 26, 2012

GeoVisions is so very proud of one of our Summer Work and Travel students from Malaysia.  And we were suprised at the WYSTC (World Youth and Student Travel Conference) conference last week in San Diego.  Abby, who hails from Malaysia had just won the Video of the Year award and US $2,000.  Her job was to produce a video along the theme of "Expand Your Horizons."  She did an amazing job.  Her video was judged by people all over the world.

Each year, WYSE Work Abroad, through WYSTC, invites young people to submit a video that shares their unique experience of working or volunteering abroad. One lucky participant can win US $2,000!  So, if you're a great video producer, why not enter for the 2013 award?  It will be awarded in Sydney, Australia in September, 2013.

Kevin Morgan and Randy LeGrant of GeoVisionsThe video must celebrate the many benefits of the work abroad experience through the annual "Expand Your Horizons" video contest.

A GeoVisions student, Wai Kuan Lam (Abby), is this year's winner. Abbey is from Malaysia and worked in Cape May, New Jersey last year.  Randy LeGrant and Kevin Morgan from GeoVisions accepted the award in San Diego on behalf of Abby.  (But Abby gets all the money!)

We hope you will take a look at this 3 minute video that won "Best Video Of The Year" and see why her four months in the United States was so meaningful and you will understand how the Summer Work and Travel experience and going through GeoVisions "expanded Abby's horizons.

Tags: Make Something Happen, Working For A Better World, Volunteer/Work Abroad Industry Updates, Work and Travel

The Ripple Effect: Terri Wingham’s Incredible Journey, Part 2

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Aug 28, 2012

Posted by Anni on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at Journeys for Good.  This Blog Post is used with permission.

GeoVisions note:  Terri Wingham started her "incredible journey" with GeoVisions in Vietnam. This post is an interview done by Journeys for Good regarding Terri's "incredible journey."

Terri Wingham

Yesterday we spoke with Terri Wingham about her journey of hope. Here is the second half of that interview. Enjoy!

Terri Wingham

What has been one of your favorite destinations or projects (or both)?
I will always have a big place in my heart for CCS Cape Town because it was the experience I had there and the beautiful children I fell in love with that healed me from cancer and put my dream for the Fresh Chapter Foundation in motion.

On my recent Adventure of Hope, I grew the most personally during my time with CCS in India. Working at Mother Teresa’s home for the mentally and physically challenged pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me see humanity in a different way. My time at a Rwandan Orphanage with GVN broke my heart wide open and has inspired a dream to adopt a child one day. And, my time with ProWorld Urubamba showed me how powerful it can be when you work on projects right alongside the people who benefit from them. The clean water filter project and cleaner burning stove project inspired me beyond measure and I give the ProWorld team in Peru huge kudos for the sustainability and ethical approach to their projects.
What advice would you give to a cancer survivor going on her first volunteering trip? Do you think there are any unique challenges she may face?

I try never to speak on behalf of all cancer survivors because the disease affects all of us so differently. But, in building the Fresh Chapter Foundation, I am looking for partnerships with volunteer organizations who can inspire confidence that the survivors will be well taken care of. Cancer can shrink someone’s world and shake their confidence. This is one of the reasons I have decided a group model is best and why I’m working hard at putting together a pilot program to take 8-12 survivors to New Delhi in February 2013 for a 2 week trip that will include volunteering, cultural exchange, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Taj Mahal. My hope is that in planning and fundraising for this trip, the survivors will feel a sense of possibility and accomplishment and that their time in India will shift their perspectives and give them the opportunity to think about what they want their fresh chapter back home to look like.
What is the ripple effect of volunteer travel in your life?

Volunteering Internationally has had a tremendous ripple effect in my life. It has made me a citizen of the globe, instead of a citizen of only Canada. Having the opportunity to spend time on 5 continents and volunteer in 9 countries, I have seen how much more alike we are than we are different. I have seen people around the world share the same desire for love and belonging and the same desire to live a meaningful life. Volunteering internationally has made me passionate about raising my voice for people struggling with issues of cancer, poverty, and a lack of education in countries around the world. It has also inspired me to help other cancer survivors experience the joy that can come from volunteering internationally. My wish is for each of these survivors to come home after their trips, inspired to give back locally or support international programs. My dream is that something as horrible as cancer can result in a global ripple of hope and new possibilities.

Terri Wingham

What’s next for you?

In addition to planning and getting funding to support the upcoming trip to New Delhi, I am writing a book, and working on a social enterprise model to help sustain the foundation in the long term. I’m also passionate about the challenges facing cancer patients in developing countries. So, I plan to continue traveling globally where I will build more partnerships with volunteer organizations both inside and outside the cancer space.

My ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the challenges of survivorship and give survivors an option for transitioning into a new chapter in their lives. I want to make sure no other cancer patient walks out of the hospital on his or her final day of treatment feeling alone and like the support has ended.

Here at Journeys for Good, we are committed to growing a community of global citizens. We celebrate volunteer travel experiences, volunteer heroes, and organizations that make a difference.

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Make Something Happen