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This Friday’s challenge is a photo of an unidentified place somewhere in the world. Can you tell us where the photo was taken? Leave your guess in the comments below — and check back on Tuesday to see if you were right!

world destination


Hint: This colorful park was designed by its city’s most famous modernist architect.

Enter your guess in the comments below. You have until Monday, May 15, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com prize. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Maria, who correctly guessed that this week’s mystery location is Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain. Maria has won an IndependentTraveler.com logo item. Congratulations! Stay tuned for more chances to win.

See All “Where in the World?” Challenges

— written by Sarah Schlichter

As travelers, we often collect “trip tokens” as a way of materializing our memories. But what if there were a way to give back to the world while compiling those keepsakes?

This idea was the seed that became Traveller Collective.

darryl mcivor


Founded in 2015 by Darryl McIvor of Vancouver, Traveller Collective offers a product that is simple — yet sentimental — in an effort to overcome the “massive inequalities” in our world. Handmade by McIvor and his team in Vancouver, the product is a leather keychain clip with washer-like rings that are engraved with a two- or three-letter code representing every country, U.S. state or Canadian province you’ve visited.

The clips — which come in brown, black and tan — cost $18.50 apiece, while the metal spacers range from $2 to $3.25 each. Up to 25 percent of every sale goes toward nonprofits and charitable causes around the globe.

We caught up with Darryl to chat about the creation of Traveller Collective, the impact it’s having on global communities and what’s coming next for the company.

Independent Traveler: Tell us a little bit about the Traveller Collective product. Why a keychain clip and spacers, rather than — let’s say — patches or pins?
Darryl McIvor:
I really wanted to create something based around travel and giving back. You know how you always see people with flag patches on their backpacks? I liked that idea — the concept of having a simple reminder of the places that you’ve been. But I didn’t really like the idea of patches. I always felt it was kind of loud, kind of in your face. I wanted something much more subtle, something much more personalized.

IT: Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind Traveller Collective?
DM:
We launched in the summer of 2015. Really for me — and for the business in general — the ability for us to travel the world and do that type of thing is so far off from what so many people in the world have the ability to do. … So for us, it was kind of a reminder of that, and showing gratitude. It was never about counting countries or seeing how many different countries you could get to. It was more of a reminder to go out, travel and really aspire to do more.

IT: What sorts of nonprofits, charities and projects has Traveller Collective funded so far?
DM:
Our First project was about clean water. … We partnered with a nonprofit in New York called charity: water. We did a project with them and raised $10,000 to build a well in Ethiopia.

There’s also a local nonprofit we’ve started working with called imagine1day. We raised $10,000 last year to build a school in Ethiopia. We also ran this big contest last October, where we had one of our customers and imagine1day come with us to Ethiopia. After being on the ground in Ethiopia and meeting the majority of the staff in imagine1day, I knew I wanted to work with them again. Just the things that they’re doing and the sustainability aspects that they’ve instilled in these projects is really important to us. We decided to do another project with them. We’re raising money for it now, and running another contest where we’re going to bring one of the customers in October [2017] to visit the school and meet the community.

traveller collective keychain


IT: People love collecting tokens from their travels. How does the Traveller Collective keychain add a special element to that concept?
DM:
For me, it’s just the meaning behind it. Whether you get a small ring that’s engraved with a country, or if you get a small trinket, it means something to everyone in their own certain aspect. Some rings for some people might be six months in a certain place; for some people it might only be a weekend. But it’s so individual that everyone has their own story behind it. My Australia ring would mean something so different from someone else’s Australia ring, and the stories behind each of those represents an entirely different trip at a different time. For me, it’s having all of these altogether in one spot and being able to glance at it from time to time; to go back over some of the memories, and to really inspire people to go out and make more.

IT: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while traveling?
DM:
The things I enjoy most about my personality I attribute to traveling: my patience, my understanding, my gratitude. I don’t think I would have learned those things in the capacity I know them now unless I was traveling. That’s one of the reasons we want people to get out there and travel more; it changes them. I think we’re all better off if we have more gratitude, understanding and appreciation for the way other people live.

IT: Is there one spacer you can associate with your favorite travel memory or destination?
DM:
Anytime anyone asks me my favorite country, I always say — which might be a little cheesy — Canada. I love traveling, but I really enjoy coming back to Canada. Every time you come back from a new place it just provides different perspectives on what your home is and what your country is, and that’s really important to me.

IT: How many silver spacers do you have on your own keychain?
DM:
I just went to Belgium for the first time at the end of January, and I believe that was my 32nd country.

Check out the Traveller Collective website for info on upcoming projects, contests and products.

See more travel interviews!

Social Impact Travel: A Q&A with Michal Alter
Voluntourism: Does It Really Help?

— interview conducted by Christina Janansky

This week’s puzzle is a country shapes quiz! Take a look at the silhouette and below and tell us which country you think it is.

mystery country


Enter your guess in the comments below. You have until Monday, May 8, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com logo item. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Diana C, who correctly guessed that this week’s mystery country was Panama. Diana has won an IndependentTraveler.com logo item. Congratulations! Stay tuned for more chances to win.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

Being “good” at travel isn’t the point of travel.

wayfarer's handbook


Evan S. Rice learned this first hand when he quit his job at age 25, bought a one-way ticket to East Africa and wandered the world for 10 months. As an independent traveler in the truest sense, Rice wasn’t a travel expert when he set out on that first trip. But with dozens of stamps in his passport now, Rice has solid road warrior experience that he’s now sharing with others.

Rice compiled his best travel tips in a new book called The Wayfarer’s Handbook: A Field Guide for the Independent Traveler. The book is a fun and random collection of modern-day travel advice, trivia and anecdotes, including these 10 tips and tidbits:

10. The irresistible feeling to quit your job, abandon your family and go travel is called “dromomania.”

9. There’s an ancient reason why you don’t sleep well the first night of a trip. The left hemisphere of the brain stays fully alert the first night you sleep in an unfamiliar place, “likely the result of an evolutionary trait protecting humans from predators,” Rice writes about a 2016 jet lag study.

8. Putting your hands in your pockets in South Korea and Turkey can imply boredom or lack of respect.

7. There are no generally accepted rules about waiting in line. In England, Canada and the U.S., people systematically queue up. In Japan, people leave a piece of tape or a token to mark their place in line. In China, if you let someone go ahead of you, you’re acknowledging that that person is of higher class.

6. Rice details 27 common scams that travelers should be aware of. These include having your bag sliced open during a long bus or train journey and a super-friendly local offering to tour you around his city under the guise of practicing his English and then demanding payment.

5. Only three countries in the world have not adopted the metric system: the United States, Liberia and Myanmar.

4. In Japanese, the term yokomeshi means the stress of stringing together a few learned words to try to communicate with a foreigner. It literally means “cooked rice eaten horizontally.”

3. Among items banned in Saudi Arabia: old newspapers, fireworks and “greeting cards with small musical devices which work automatically when the card is moved.”

2. If you buy an item in a developing country with a fluctuating economy, don’t be surprised to receive your change in the form of candy, soda, matches or other token items. A lot of people don’t have enough currency to make change.

1. In some countries, locals only smile at people they know personally. Smiling at a stranger could be perceived as insincere, mocking or just plain odd.

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–written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma