Q&A: WE's Marc & Craig Kielburger on Teaming Up with Travelzoo
Travelzoo is proud to be partnering with WE Charity, a movement of extraordinary people coming together to create a better world. We're joining forces to offer enriching and meaningful experiences that contribute to local communities.
We went to the two brothers who started WE Charity — Canadians Marc and Craig Kielburger — to talk about giving back, life on the road (they travel over 300 days a year) and how Travelzoo members can benefit from our new partnership.
Craig and Marc, you spend so much time circling the globe. How does travel broaden your mind?
Nothing opens your eyes like spending time in a new place or immersing yourself in a different culture. For both of us, our first major solo trips were what really pushed us towards the path we’re on today. In Craig’s case, that first trip was a life-changing journey to Southeast Asia to gain a deeper understanding of the realities of child labour. For Marc, it was spending six months in Thailand, volunteering at Bangkok’s only free hospice for AIDS patients.
We both walked away from these experiences completely changed, and travel has remained a huge part of our lives. We spend hundreds of days on the road every single year, and although our circadian rhythm might be a little off, our sense of purpose only gets stronger when we spend time in the communities our international work supports.
It is the same for the young people and families who join us on ME to WE trips. Meeting new people and having new experiences does so much to inspire empathy, and so many of these adventurers return home with a global focus, an action plan, and a stronger sense of where their next journey will take them.
What makes you excited about the partnership between WE and Travelzoo?
Travelzoo has created such a fantastic platform, and we’re so thrilled to be working with their amazing team. It’s the dedication and skill of Travelzoo’s researchers and reviewers that really sets them apart, and this is what makes us incredibly excited to be partnering with them. They bring such a high level of passion and attention to detail to each project, and this will have a powerful impact on the work we do together. Collaborating with them will go so far in helping our ME to WE social enterprise support even more positive change on a global scale, and it will also serve as a wonderful reminder to Travelzoo staff that their work really is making the world not only a more connected place, but a better place too.
Why should Travelzoo members get involved with WE?
If there’s one thing that all Travelzoo members seem to have in common, it’s that they know when something works. They’ve joined the massive Travelzoo network because it’s a proven way to find fantastic opportunities to see the world. What our movement offers, amongst many other things, is an effective, transparent way to make a unique impact. It’s a step away from the older model of making a one-oﬀ donation at tax time, instead empowering people to make changing the world a part of their everyday lives. It’s also been effective – today, there are 3.8 million youth involved in our innovative programming. Internationally, WE Charity has provided over 200,000 children with education and more than 1 million people with access to clean water and health care.
The ME to WE social enterprise gives people even more ways to make meaningful change. Every socially conscious product sold through Travelzoo supports our charitable work, so you can give back by taking your family on a ME to WE trip, by buying your niece a Rafiki Bracelet, or even by treating yourself to a piece of ME to WE Chocolate. Our artisans’ products also provide steady employment to people living in our partner communities. So just like Travelzoo members know that spending a week in Costa Rica will contribute to the local economy, purchasing a Rafiki or bag of ME to WE Coffee helps entrepreneurs free themselves and their families from the cycle of poverty.
What makes a ME to WE volunteer trip special compared to a standard vacation?
A ME to WE volunteer trip has everything a standard vacation offers and more – new experiences, breathtaking landscapes and time to spend with family and friends. But what really sets it apart is the unparalleled level of cultural immersion and unique chances to give back.
Volunteers work shoulder-to-shoulder with local community members to build classrooms and meet the incredible students being empowered by these actions. In Kenya, you can walk with Maasai mamas to fetch water, or share a morning hike through the breathtaking savannah with a Maasai warrior. In Ecuador, you journey through the world’s largest tropical rainforest and sit down with skilled artisans to learn about centuries-old weaving practices. All of this is paired with world-class accommodations, fantastic meals prepared by chefs from within the region, and a list of optional extensions that range from safaris to visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Machu Picchu or the Taj Mahal.
These trips are all about taking part in something larger than yourself and finding a new lens through which to see the world, as well as your place in it. We’ve had so many people tell us that the trips really changed their lives, especially young people. Many go on to join us in every country we work in to find even more opportunities to grow and make a meaningful impact.
What’s your best piece of travel advice from a lifetime on the road?
If your intent is to travel with purpose, then our No. 1 piece of advice is to remember that the journey doesn’t end when you get home. This is when the experience can really begin to shape you and help you grow. Many of the people who join us on ME to WE trips report volunteering more when they return home, and some have even started their own initiatives.
This advice still applies even if your goal was just to have a great time. If you found that you came back super-relaxed, or feeling a closer connection to your family, friends or whoever joined you, ask yourself how you might be able to recreate that feeling in your everyday life.
Our second piece of wise advice: if you have a long flight, always bring a sleep mask.
What are the three things you can't live without when you travel?
Aside from the sleep mask, one of our travel essentials is a good audiobook. This is so great to have when you’re waiting in lines or transiting with no Wi-Fi, and unlike a physical book, it doesn’t take up any luggage space.
Another essential is a tennis ball. Not for playing tennis, but because they’re the perfect size for self-massages. This is especially important after you’ve been sitting on a plane for hours and need to loosen up your joints. Unlike massage balls, which usually don’t come in packs of three, you don’t have to be too worried about losing one or two along the way.
Finally, the one thing that no shameless idealist can leave behind is their sense of adventure. If you’re open to new experiences and learn from the amazing people you meet, you’ll come back with much more than fond memories.
Travelzoo and WE are inviting members across Canada to tell us about a recent volunteer experience — whether it was travelling abroad or right in your own community. Share your story for a chance to win a pair of tickets to WE Day, a celebration of people committed to making a difference.