Did you know that less than 40% of Americans have a passport? Have you ever wondered what percentage of this number includes underserved communities?
Meet Tracey Friley, award-winning travel writer and philanthropist, founder of The Passport Party Project and named one of National Geographic’s 2013 Traveler’s of the Year. I had the honor of first meeting Tracey in person at BlogHer 2012 in New York City. Tracey gave a presentation called Travelanthropy and I was fascinated by her talk. Her words and mission in life touched me deeply and we’ve kept in touch ever since.
Tracey caught the travel bug early and has been fortunate to have traveled to many wonderful parts of the world. Yet Tracey realized that many people in this country especially underserved communities do not have passports and have no means of international travel.
Inspired by her own passion for travel and making a difference in people’s lives, Tracey decided to act upon her disenchantment for the way the world works and find a way to help underserved girls travel. In the summer of 2011, Tracey gathered a group of local kids in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent the day with them talking about travel. By the end of the day, she had given the kids money for their first passports. Little did she know, this was the start of something bigger: The Passport Party Project.
“To struggling families, international travel is a luxury, an unattainable goal. So passports aren’t a priority because they don’t feel they can travel internationally anyway. But I think travel should be available to everyone, particularly children. The sooner they explore, the better for the world.” – Tracey Friley, award-winning travel writer and founder of The Passport Party Project
The Passport Party Project is an award-winning grassroots initiative providing online global awareness training, first passports and first time international travel experiences to underserved American girls ages 11-15 in an effort to help create responsive and responsible global citizens.
The Passport Party Project was launched in the Fall of 2011 with Phase 1, an 18-month global awareness campaign in Los Angeles. Friley obtained full funding for Phase 1 from Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company, and was thrilled to be finally realizing her dreams. The Passport Party Project was able to successfully gift 100 underserved girls with their very first passports during a nationwide traveling campaign that ended in July 2013 with a trip to Belize, Central America for six lucky girls that received their very first passport stamps.
Given the fabulous success of Phase 1, an even better Phase 2 is now getting underway. The Passport Party Project Phase 2 will empower 10 girls at a time in an effort to make a more personal impact and ultimately create a replicable model. Sponsored by HomeAway (Official Housing Sponsor) and Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board (Official Destination Sponsor), Phase 2 will take the Passport Party Project to the next level. Phase 2 will consist of 6 hour-long global awareness parties in cities nationwide, an exciting 6-week online global awareness training program that teaches and encourages local and global responsible travel practices and one on one mentoring by established travelers. The dream destination is the lovely Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.
I’m honored to announce that I am one of the 20 Advisory Board Members for the Passport Party Project’s Phase 2 initiative. I will be mentoring one of the selected girls for a 15-month timeframe and help prepare her for her travel abroad. I am so excited to have this unique opportunity to help a young girl experience international travel for the first time! It is going to be a wonderful experience.
All 20 Advisory Board Members are dedicated volunteers who believe in the power of the passport and are committed to contributing to the growth of a girl as she embarks on her journey to global citizenship. Some Advisory Board Members will also serve as judges and one-on-one mentors.
I look forward to my new role mentoring a young girl and helping her discover the beauty and life-changing impact of global travel.
To learn more about The Passport Party Project, here are some links:
Here is an inspiring half-hour video of the 2013 National Geographic Traveler’s of the Year. The video includes Tracey and The Passport Party Project. Get ready to be inspired!