Kickstart Your Travel Dreams

Most of our New Year’s resolutions are already distant memories (as I type this, I’m munching on handfuls of jellybeans, oops). But Seattle-based travel writer Charyn Pfeuffer made her New Year’s resolution, and made a pact to keep it.

Pfeuffer could easily be considered a jetsetter: She clocks more than 150 flights a year and is well-versed in thread counts, massage treatments, and gourmet cuisine (and she tweets under the name @Global_gourmet). But all of her travels left her wanting something deeper, so she decided to create a goal for herself. Her plan, which she’s calling the Global Citizen Project, is to spend the next year working on volunteer projects in different countries–12 projects, 12 countries–and she is attempting to raise $20,000 to help support her efforts. She’s made arrangements to work with organizations like GeoVisions, a non-profit education group that works on the Honduran border, and Karikuy, a non-profit tour company that gives back to several humanitarian projects throughout Peru. But there’s one hitch: If she doesn’t raise all the money, none of it happens.

This all-or-nothing fundraising plan comes via a website called Kickstarter, a relatively new, invite-only site where creative types (journalists, adventurers, filmmakers, designers, tech-gurus, etc.) can conjure up plans and request the funding to help make them happen, often by offering incentives and rewards in exchange for public support. Much like a public radio pledge drive, Pfeuffer is offering gifts large (three-nights at the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i and The Royal Hawaiian, and a two-night, all-inclusive stay at Hacienda Tres Rios in Riviera Maya) and small (postcards sent from each of the 12 countries she plans to visit) and she’s been busy over the past month and half doing her utmost to make it happen, reaching out to her social network and beyond.

So if you’re looking for a way to make your burning travel desire happen, Kickstarter might be a way to bring it to fruition. Pfeuffer’s travel plans are just a few of the adventures featured on the site: One person is hoping to document their drive along Route 66, The Pacific Coast Highway, and The Alaska Highway; another pair wants to walk across New Zealand (they’ve already documented their hike across the Continental Divide).

“I believe wholeheartedly in my volunteer project and jumped in with two feet, essentially into the deep end without water wings,” says Pfeuffer. “I wouldn’t have embarked on this project if I didn’t think I could bring a lot of good to a lot of people and I could succeed. It just so happens that Kickstarter

provides a fairly free-form and easy-to-use platform for folks like me, who have wildly creative aspirations to make their dream comes true.”

So far, she says, more than 155 people have contributed to her project, and about a third of them are strangers. “It’s pretty awesome when you think about conceptualizing a travel dream, putting it out there for people to support and fund and having the general public believe it enough to make a donation. I’m just grateful to have the platform of Kickstarter

to make it happen.”

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Of course, there’s no guarantee that it will happen, as Pfeuffer has four days left in her project deadline and about 41 percent of the funds left to raise. But one great aspect of Kickstarter, she says, is the “pay-it-forward mentality.” Once you get an invitation to Kickstarter, you get five more invites to pass along. “Everything about it is so organic and authentic,” she says, “I’ve enjoyed every second of the journey so far.” Stay tuned as to whether the journey itself gets started. Want it to happen? It’s up to you.

[The Global Citizen Project on Kickstarter]
[Kickstarter site]

Photo: courtesy Charyn Pfeuffer

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