Here at Indigo, we have a lot of amazing friends doing amazing things. So we thought it was high time we introduced them to our Indigo community. Meet CJ, the founder of travel website, Go Travel and Talk.
Hey CJ! First up, can you tell us in one sentence what your organisation is all about?
“Go Travel and Talk is an online travel network that connects people, places and organisations with the aim to empower people to travel and make a positive impact when doing so.”
Let’s start from the beginning. What inspired you to get this started?
“I have always loved travelling and because of my dad’s job when I was growing up, we used to move every two years – sometimes to Europe, Asia or Central America. When I was 25, I finally plucked up the courage to solo travel and it was life changing. When you travel on your own you go on an amazing journey of self-discovery, push the boundaries of your comfort zone and ultimately blossom into a more adaptable, confident and open version of yourself.
But on my solo travels, I started to see unethical tourism and poverty around the world. I felt a huge pull to do more than just travel, and to shift my focus to making a positive impact while travelling. So I did beach clean-ups in Peru, volunteered at a community centre in Colombia and taught English and Art in Ecuador. Doing good felt amazing, but it also taught me so much more about myself and how I can personally make a difference to someone else’s life.
This was the main reason Go Travel and Talk was started – to encourage people to give back when they travel. Most of us have a skill to offer, so why not do something with that skill and help others?”
And then what – how did you get your organisation up and running?
“When I got back from South America, I lasted two days back in my old job before I left, moved back in with my parents and started setting up Go Travel and Talk. I started reaching out to people I had met while travelling and the organisations I had volunteered with. Within two weeks, I was having meetings with website developers and creating content. Then Go Travel and Talk was born.”
So after all that, where is your organisation at today?
“Since then, Go Travel and Talk has grown exponentially. I now have a business partner, Maggie, an amazing girl I met in Colombia. In the early days it was just the two of us, but now we have a team of 17 writers from all around the world, tons of collaborations with incredible local businesses and amazing partnerships. Maggie and I work very hard to ensure we are creating a community of dedicated people who really want to make a difference through their travels.
With the volunteering opportunities on Go Travel and Talk, people can literally volunteer for a few hours, days or weeks – so there is minimal time commitment required, and yet you could change someone’s life.”
What does your day-to-day look like?
“I start early – up by 6am for meditation and a 10-minute focus session for the day. After a strong coffee, I spend the morning doing consultancy work (my other job that runs alongside Go Travel and Talk.) By 2pm, I get cracking with Go Travel and Talk – this can be anything from researching new content, business development meetings or social media management. I normally spend a good few hours talking strategy with Maggie as well. I have a quick dinner around 6pm, walk the dog, more work on Go Travel and Talk (as a lot of our writers are on very different timezones!) and then I’m in bed by 11pm.”
What has been your career highlight so far?
“The bravest and boldest career move for me (and therefore my highlight) was setting up Go Travel and Talk. I have never been more terrified than when I left London to do this – I had worked so hard at studying Psychology at university, and had worked even harder to get my first role as a Business Psychologist, so it was a big move. But as they say, we never regret the things we did do, only the things we didn’t do, and I know Go Travel and Talk was what I was meant to do.”
Where can people go if they’d like to find out more about you and your organisation?
“Our website is a good place to start! People can head to Go Travel and Talk and they can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook. If travel writing is your thing, or you know of an amazing local business or project that deserves a shout out, get in touch with us. Likewise, if you are thinking about travelling and need some advice, send us a message – we would love to hear from you. You can contact us through our website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”