In collaboration with Duara Travels

For me, travel is about being an open-minded sponge to not only soak up other cultures in respect, but to also squeeze some of myself and my culture out in return to foster understanding, break down bias, and break through prejudices.

If you actively follow my travels, you know I’m a big advocate of slow travel. Not so much the duration or time you spend in a place, but rather the quality of time you spend by slowing down your pace and trying to learn more about the culture through locals and insiders.

And as travelers, we’re often inundated with postcard-perfect Instagram photos of scenic destinations with the traveler themselves in various degrees of posing in those shots.

But I often wonder… what about the people who live every day in those scenic destinations? The locals who carve out their living for these very landscapes and who preserve their rich cultures and traditions?

Those are the stories I want to see and hear too.

This is also why I advocate living with locals in a mutually beneficial fashion. One that not only enriches your travel experiences but directly and responsibly benefits and empowers the local communities within which you’re invited. Staying with farmers, following host families to work, dining together around the table, getting a glimpse into their world and leaving a piece of yourself behind as a way of fostering cultural understanding.

Finding the right partner to get you closer is crucial and Finnish company Duara Travels aims to help facilitate those encounters. Founded in Finland, this small sustainable company aims to “value destinations as they are, not as they are built for visitors” by helping travelers explore communities responsibly, sustainably, and with respect to local norms and cultures.

Duara is from Swahili and means circle. That is exactly what we create in our villages by connecting families with each other, to offer you experiences that last for a lifetime….Duara Travels

My most enriching experiences have been those quiet moments when I’ve been invited into the homes of locals – whether in Jordan, Cambodia, or most recently in Panauti community in Nepal. For me, as cliché as it sounds, that is the oyster travel opens up for me beyond marveling at jarringly beautiful landscapes.

Because every time I leave, I am reminded of both the power and privilege of travel. The power to put our lives and everyday worries into larger perspective, and the privilege to explore the world and get invited into far-flung cultures to experience both our similarities and differences in such profound ways.

As I start planning my travels for 2018, I would love to explore Sri Lanka and Tanzania, and more importantly, I’d love to do so in ways that gets me closer by slowing down.

About Duara Travels

Finnish company Duara Travels connects intrepid travelers with village communities off the beaten path in Africa, Asia and Latin America and empowers local communities by returning tourism revenues to them. You gain access to offline villages that are otherwise difficult or near impossible to reach. You stay in a local community, cook and eat with your host family and take part in their daily activities.

These communities could be anything from fishermen’s villages, rice fields and rainforests, to name a few. This type of immersive travel also provides locals with new employment options and extra personal income.

Duara Travels currently operates in 19 villages across five countries – Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, and Tanzania. 60% of the money goes back to locals. 10% goes to a community savings group often run by women, benefiting the whole village by giving micro loans, for example.

By booking a stay with Duara Travels, you directly benefit the community you live in.

Watch the video below, read traveler stories, and be inspired to get closer with Duara Travels.

This post was written in partnership with Duara Travels. All opinions and musings are mine as always but seriously… could this be a more perfect collaboration?! They stand for everything I advocate here.