A young Florida-based company is facilitating millennials to see the world, while helping the communities they enter. Worldpackers makes travel more accessible to those seeking a profound cultural experience, and through its online platform, it connects travellers looking to exchange their skills for accommodation with hosts from all around the world.
Worldpackers was founded by two 30-year-old best friends, Riq Lima and Eric Faria, from Brazil. Riq is an economist who left his job as an investment banker to travel the world for four years with little money. Eric, a certified accountant, initially travelled to the USA to learn English but ended up staying for nearly four years. His first two years were spent helping out at USA Hostels in San Diego, exchanging his skills for accommodation. He then helped to found International Travellers House, a hostel chain located in California whose staff was made up entirely of volunteers.
Inspired by their experiences, Riq and Eric started Worldpackers in 2014. It’s a community based on collaboration and honest relationships, and it currently offers work-exchange, social impact and eco programmes through an online platform, app and community. Hosts, including hospitality industry, farms and NGOs, are able to sign up to request work exchange based on a particular skill set, including photography and marketing, bar work, reception and cleaning. The host will stipulate the period of time, skills, hours and role they require from the traveller.
Travellers are also able to design a profile based on their skills and search throughout the site to find an opportunity that best suits their desired experience. They can contact hosts with available positions and exchange these skills for accommodation. Worldpackers offers support on the go to both the travellers and hosts.
“Our purpose is to democratise meaningful travel experiences through a collaborative mindset,” Riq and Eric tell Lonely Planet. “Out of routine and judgement, people can follow their dreams, learn about themselves and the world, and find their purpose. We believe travel is the purest form of education, and one must learn through their own eyes and experiences.”
Riq and Eric say that the reaction to their service has been “sensational,” and their community has rapidly grown to 800k from 174 countries. “Worldpackers started to become known in Europe because of word of mouth from travellers and hosts,” they say. “Our hosts offer thousands of experiences from more than 100 countries, and we’ve had more than half a million exchanged nights through our platform.”
For further information, check out the Worldpackers website.