One year ago, UT alumni Jess Pink and Gavin Greenberg found themselves unsatisfied with their corporate jobs. Craving freedom from a monotonous day-to-day life, they decided to pack everything up and travel the world.
After making the decision to quit their jobs and move to Colombia, Pink (B.A.‘17) and Greenberg (B.S.’18) were inspired to start their own company, Travel World Culture. Travel World Culture plans affordable trips for people who otherwise might feel intimidated by planning trips on their own.
“Being in Colombia, the idea started from our really strict budget; everything was pretty cheap,” Pink said. “We (were) in hostels, (using) public transportation and everything not luxury but having the absolute best time of our lives.”
The pair realized that not many people know how to travel affordably and sought to create a company to help people travel cost-effectively, Greenberg said.
“International travel can be really intimidating,” Pink said. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we bridge that gap and reach people who would love these adventures and to explore these places but don’t really know how to get started.’”
After expecting a small group for their first planned trip, the pair was pleasantly surprised to discover that this business was something people were really interested in. Their first trip sold out with 18 attendees.
“That reaction is what made us say, ‘Let’s see what else we can do. Let’s grow this,’” Pink said.
Although they have received positive reactions from customers, the pair has had their share of criticisms from family and friends who were not as understanding of their untraditional route.
“We both struggled with learning to block out the opinions of others and the pressure to choose a corporate job or graduate school,” Pink said.
When leading trips, the pair partners with locally owned businesses, tour guides and transportation companies to ensure they are giving back to the countries they visit. Pink said they prioritize this goal because they view it as an ethical choice they’ve made for their business.
“We focus on making sure that money from our trips goes back to the communities who are welcoming us,” Pink said.
Greenberg said another goal for Travel World Culture is ensuring they provide the best possible trip they can for their customers in a way that other, bigger companies cannot.
Prior to planning a trip, Greenberg and Pink travel to a country months in advance to learn the ins and outs of the country and determine the coolest things to do.
“We meet with a bunch of different partners and try and build relationships with them,” Greenberg said. “We want to make sure that the package is by far the best possible set of things that you can do within that time period and within that budget.”
Zoe Deal, a psychology sophomore, travelled to Ecuador with Travel World Culture this past summer.
“The planned activities were well balanced with the freedom to do whatever we want,” Deal said. “I feel like I saw all of Ecuador in the best light.”
Although the pair said there are certain pressures to create a trip that customers will enjoy, each one results in a community of travellers bound by their experiences.
“We have such an amazing community of travelers. (There are) so many people who have been on two or three Travel World Culture trips this year,” Pink said. “People who come solo always say how shocked they are that everyone gets close so quickly.”
The connections formed between strangers, Greenberg said, is one of the most valuable outcomes of this experience.
“We love to introduce these people from around the world and create these connections,” Greenberg said.