Combining travel with fundraising, Inspired Adventures is helping everyday travellers make positive contributions while exploring the world. Here, we speak to founder and CEO Justine Curtis.
Travel is life-changing. But what if you could also positively change the lives of others while you travel?
Aptly named Inspired Adventures is a fundraising agency that inspires travellers to do just that by giving them the chance to raise money for charity while embarking on an epic adventure.
Whether it be conquering the Kokoda Track for beyondblue or cycling from Vietnam to Cambodia for World Vision, Inspired Adventures facilitates the travel part while you raise money – and have the adventure of a lifetime along the way.
Here, we uncover the highs and lows of such an operation with founder and CEO Justine Curtis.
What motivated you to start Inspired Adventures?
When I was living in India in 2001, I had a chance meeting with a Tibetan monk, Palden Gyatso, an ex-political prisoner who had been incarcerated for 33 years.
Palden’s advice was simple: “Do dharma; do good work”. With this advice, I returned to Australia and started a new career working with charities.
In 2004, I decided to create a personal challenge to raise $15,000 to fund a water pump for an aids orphanage in Zimbabwe.
I was going to achieve this by reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, with only 12 weeks to prepare myself physically and mentally.
Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest freestanding mountain, and while the climb was gruelling, the experience was life-changing.
After reaching my goal, I decided to use my experience as a prototype for Inspired Adventures.
Since then, we have raised $20 million for our charity partners, with $5 million of that in 2015 alone.
What was the first Inspired Adventure?
The Trek for Tibet in November 2005, which was of course created with Palden in mind.
I got the Australia Tibet Council on board and developed an itinerary for a Northern India trek to the home of the Dalai Lama. India is such a fascinating destination!
We had the diversity of New and Old Delhi, the experience of the overnight train journey up into the Himalayas, an incredible trek with awe-inspiring vistas and met beautiful people along the way.
I had a team of 20 amazing people ranging from 15 to 66 years old who raised a combined total of $55,000.
All of us are still close friends and I don’t doubt that it was one of the best experiences of their lives.
How do you choose the charities?
We partner with charities we know are delivering tangible results and are greatly influencing change around the world.
If it is an international NGO, we create an adventure that will enable us to connect with their work or visit the project or community.
For health and other NGOs, we tend to focus more on aspirational bucket-list experiences that help people fulfil an ambition, such as trekking to Everest Base Camp or hiking the Inca Trail in Peru.
We are currently working with a great deal of environmental organisations, developing wonderful Australian-based tours.
What has been your most memorable trip?
In 2007 I led a team of 24 women trekking in South India for Opportunity International.
We trekked in the tea plantations of Kerala, having raised more than $70,000 to fund micro-finance projects for women in India.
Once our trek was complete, we travelled to Tamil Nadu, arriving on International Women’s Day.
We had the amazing opportunity to celebrate with the local women we had raised money for; it was a truly humbling experience.
Are all the adventures physically challenging?
Yes, there is generally always a challenge component. Inspired Adventures are definitely not ‘holidays’; they are specifically designed for people who are relatively fit and willing to train.
What better motivation is there to get fit than knowing you are doing it for an important cause?
It’s also an amazing way to show participants what they are capable of achieving both physically and mentally when they put their heart into it.
Why should we join an Inspired Adventure?
The whole experience is like nothing else. Each person who signs up has a coach supporting them from start to finish with fundraising, fitness and travel preparations.
As experts in fundraising and travel management we are unique: we truly do change lives every single day, delivering extraordinary experiences whilst raising vital funds for charities around the world.
Taking on an Inspired Adventure will transform you in ways you never imagined.
For more information visit inspiredadventures.com.au