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“I founded Hands Up Holidays to give you the opportunity to not only see amazing sights, but also to have authentic interaction with local people and give something back in a “hands on” way to local communities through a taste of volunteering, in luxury.
But I got two things wrong.
Firstly, I thought the UK was going to be our biggest market, and secondly, I thought “cash rich time poor” young professionals would be our main clients, but from the outset, the USA has been our biggest market, and families are our #1 client.
When we launched, I didn’t have kids, so this took me by surprise, but in talking with our clients, and asking why they booked with us, they said things like:
I want my kids to appreciate how fortunate they are” “We want to bond closer with our children” “We want to inspire our kids to be future world changers and instill in them the values to do so”.
That resonated with me, and now that I have children of my own, Raphael and Gabriel, it is a blast introducing them to ways to help and go beneath the surface on a luxury family trip. So now we focus on families!
In my life I have been blessed to have had some incredible travel experiences in over 60 countries, from African sunsets on safari, to swimming above whale sharks, to hiking up volcanoes and even gasping for breath in the Himalayas.
But as amazing as those experiences are, my most enduring memories are the times when I have engaged in meaningful ways with the local people: becoming the official photographer at a village wedding in a remote section of North-East Vietnam, sharing chai with Indian farmers, mint tea with Moroccan bedouins or copious grappas with gracious Italian hosts are the memories I cherish the most. Moreover, when these interactions are overlaid with making a difference through volunteering, they became incredibly fulfilling, inspiring…and life changing.
Experiences such as helping build a house in South Africa and teaching English to my host family in a home-stay in Guatemala are great examples, and the lifelong friends I have made as a result and the lives changed were the catalyst for leaving my Investment Banking job in London and setting up Hands Up Holidays. Through volunteering, and the consequent interaction with local people, I gained an insight into peoples lives, and was blown away by how happy and content they were, despite having very little materially.
The Journey Begins
I was both challenged and inspired by this, and I decided to adopt a simpler, more contented attitude to life; being grateful for what I have, rather than striving for more and more possessions. I started working on Hands Up Holidays in 2003 to make it easy for you to have an inspiring luxury family volunteer trip that digs a little deeper into a community and give back in ways that enable you to make a positive impact in 3-5 days.
How This Helps You
I am passionate about you having remarkable travel experiences. I personally guarantee that your family will have a meaningful vacation with us, while at the same time being challenged to look at the world in a new light. You can have an incredible family vacation that blends luxury, sightseeing and serving and I am committed to helping you get it. Be the change.
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