Continuing to Give Back during difficult times

It’s with a heavy but inspired heart that I write the first blog post since the Give Backpacker’s founder Lindsay M. Hawley’s passing on New Years Day 2017. She was more then a best friend, she was my idol who made me want to give back, travel and live more. Lindsay was a guiding light for so many of us, and her shocking and sudden death left us all speechless. Unsure how to deal with the loss and feeling the urge to do what she always inspired me to do, I chose to embark on a wild journey through South East Asia that April, flying out of LAX on 4-14-17. Following in her footsteps quite literally, I researched all the places she went to and asked a couple mutual friends if they’d like to join my quest to keep Give Backpackers alive. Even though our kind hearted friend is gone, we can keep her spirit with us in so many ways. This was my way of keeping Lindsay close, and I learned so much along the way. I encourage others to follow their heart when dealing with pain and loss, it helped me so much and I cannot wait for the next trip. This is a brief summary of the latest Give Backpackers journey, hopefully I’ll see you on the next one! I flew to Siem Reap with Elliott Breit, a friend of Lindsay’s and Give Backpacker advocate from San Diego. Carissa Castro, a long time friend and fellow model that worked for Lindsay’s other company LMH promotions (yeah, Linz was a badass), had already arrived the night before.... read more

Getting Back to Giving Back, instead of Selling Out.

I do not believe in Black Friday and I do not believe in Cyber Monday. Today is #GivingTuesday but I believe every day should be a Giving Day. Givebackpackers was not started to sell the world more stuff. It was started on the idea of connecting purpose driven travelers and good causes to the resources they need to do more good in the world. We first introduced the concept of selling handmade goods from around the world after I had some success selling Mexican artisan accessories on Krissy’s etsy shop to raise money for Door of Faith Orphanage in Baja. On our trip around the world last year we collected the most amazing handmade things along the way and began selling them online and at markets and events. It was a lot of work to keep that much inventory organized and to physically manage all of it. I quickly realized the idea of selling stuff did not align with my values and my mission to create meaningful experiences that made an impact. Earlier this summer Krissy and I parted ways as business partners. She kept the stuff and started a new company, Twin Peaks Apparel and the Givebackpackers got back to what we do best, travel! We have made two different trips to Nicaragua, where we are funding a clean water well in a rural village and sponsoring a school with supplies, security, playground equipment and seriously needed upgrades to the school. Each trip had about 5 volunteers from all backgrounds, with the shared goal of traveling with a purpose. (We made plenty of time for fun adventures like... read more

Helping kids in El Transito, Nicaragua

Our first few days in Nicaragua have been so successful. Our friends from San Diego, the Fortune 421 crew and I landed late Wednesday in Managua and the group of us piled into the old land cruiser and set out for El Transito. El Transito is a sleepy fishing village of about 3,000 people, dirt roads, horses, pigs on the side of the road and really basic homes. In 1992 it was practically destroyed from a tsunami and its crazy to see how over 20 years later they are still rebuilding. Makes me think about the destruction in Nepal that just happened and how I hope we can assist them in rebuilding much quicker. We arrived to the first school yesterday and I was shocked to see the very simple, two room structure that was school to about 30 children ages 4 to 10. The yard was just dirt and rocks and the swing set was in such disrepair that only 2 of the 8 swings worked. It was sad because I wanted to push all the kids on swings but they were fighting over the working ones. A couple of the volunteers with us got creative and made soccer goals out of rocks and played with the one ball they had while the rest of us brought out the coloring books and colored pencils we brought. It was amazing to see the kids excel at coloring and they were so proud of the pictures they drew. It is a great activity to do with kids and volunteers, because even with a language barrier it is fun to name... read more

The Trouble with Paradise

Sea of Seven Colors – San Andres Unwinding to the rhythmic sounds of aqua waves and the tropical taste of Limonada de Coco, a favorite drink among Colombians, San Andres is a lush paradise escape. Lindsay, Sy and I are posted up on Bugry Beach at a hidden bungalow nestled in-between balmy palms with a rainbow painted dock stretching out into the “Sea of Seven Colors”. Que Bonita! Unfortunately, there is a hefty weight that rests on Linz and my shoulders. We fear that sharing photos of this beautiful island serenity portrays us inaccurately and the fun displayed on our social media possibly diminishes all of our hard work. Does posting photos of paradise give the appearance we are on some touristy vacation rather than vigorously pursuing our givebackpackers mission? Our wandering may often walk a fine line between productivity and play but we like it that way! Our work is our play. Shedding light on some of the darker difficulties we face is not always in sync with our inspirational style. Being the Co-founders of an ambitious start-up demands that we wear all the hats and that means we often times sacrifice our basic needs like sleep, proper nutrition and personal finances in order to get givebackpackers off the ground. Building a conscious brand that truly resonates with our values requires diligence, ground research and an endless investment of our time. I rarely know what day it is because there is no such thing as weekends off. We are learning to accept that it is virtually impossible to complete a to-do list that continually grows with each passing... read more

#WCW – Veronika Scott- Superwoman of Sleeping- Bags

“I really believe that people can tackle far more than they think they can” – Scott Every day the rising sun brings new beginnings, an opportunity to redefine yourself. I get jazzed up at the mere thought of it. Envisioning all the possibilities, the ways we can grow and create. The ways we can change our colors like karma karma karma chameleons. Our ability to adapt & flow is monumental in our success & evolution. A stunning example of this is the Superwoman of Sleeping-Bags and my Woman Crush Wednesday, Veronika Scott. Veronika Scott founded, The Empowerment Plan, which is a Detroit based Non-profit that employs and supports the homeless community of 20,000 people. Scott creates sustainable solutions to help break the cycle of poverty along with renewing hope by hiring, training and providing work for women struggling on the streets to make her amazing Sleeping Bag Coat. Talk about Feel Good Fashion!!! Scott’s goal is to, “give them the power to take control of the life they want to lead”. I am so inspired by her unwavering perseverance and her ability to stay positive in the face of discouraging words that were yelled at her by one woman in the homeless community. “Your coats don’t matter, jobs matter. We need jobs, not coats”, instead of letting it get her down, Veronika realized the woman was right and this sparked her idea to hire homeless woman to make the Sleeping Bag Coats. Brilliant! Lindsay and I resonated strongly with what Scott is building in the world and the adversity that she has faced growing up as a child of... read more

San Diego Givebackpacker: Corinne Aparis of Access Youth Academy

We have done a lot of philanthropic projects abroad because we believe in being more than tourists, we want to do more than just take photos and enjoy the sights, and our money and efforts can go a lot further, but Givebackpackers are GLOBAL, which means we volunteer right in our own communities in need too. Last Saturday Lindsay, Tiffany and Corinne were helping these teens from the Access Youth Academy program at the Mt Hope Community Garden in San Diego. Giving back starts at home. [youtube]   Corinne Aparis is the Academic Coordinator at Access Youth Academy and joined in November 2013 after moving back from India where she was working with a non profit for 8 months.  Originally from San Diego, she pursued her undergraduate degrees in English and International Development at the University of San Francisco in 2010. Throughout Corinne’s time in university and post-grad she worked and did fellowships in South Africa, Uganda, Australia, and India where she supported and coordinated a multitude of social change projects for at-risk youth to immigrant and refugee families. Corinne is a world traveler who lives the givebackpacker lifestyle, make a positive impact wherever she goes, whether it is out in the surf on her home turf beach, giving sage advice to her very lucky girlfriends, or while trekking through jungles and sneaking across borders in the Congo. To support either of these local programs, please visit the sites below, or make a much needed donation of funds or working laptops, as the kids in Corinne’s programs desperately need computers to do their homework and apply for scholarships.... read more

Successfully Funded on Kickstarter! GRACIAS!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped get Givebackpackers to the next step. With the 8k we raised on Kickstarter we were able to begin purchasing inventory from artisans around the world during our 8 week trip. Without your support we would not have had the funds between us to make any extra purchases during our trip. With the capital from Kickstarter, Givebackpackers was able to build relationships and purchase enough handmade items to launch a full line of goods for good! We were able to purchase the software, tools and supplies necessary for growing a successful products based business and are excited to share with you the story and the treasures from our journey, as well as invite you to join us on an adventure some time. Watch our kickstarter video to hear our whole story from the... read more