As you look to explore the world once again you may find yourself searching for trips that offer more profound, authentic and off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. That’s where the travel company Elsewhere comes in.
Elsewhere was founded by tourism industry veterans Alexis Bowen and Craig Zapatka, who have spent more than a decade working in that field. From on-the-ground tour guide skills to running operations on the back end, they know the travel world from the inside out.
Born during the onset of the pandemic, Elsewhere presented a chance to turn the travel industry’s downturn into an opportunity. The result: a brand-new travel company with a mission to help people travel better, more responsibly, more authentically — and have the time of their lives.
Bowen and Zapatka are on a mission to offer authentic, personalized travel planning services. Their goal in creating Elsewhere is to connect travelers directly with local experts to create experiences that dig deep into destinations while ensuring tourism dollars go to the residents of the places people visit.
“Our trips allow you to see beneath the surface of a destination. We operate extraordinary trips — trips that are off the beaten path and trips that allow for opportunities of authentic exchange,” Bowen said. “Our goal is to open travelers’ eyes to unique insights and ethically memorable experiences.”
One of the biggest challenges in planning an international trip that goes deeper into more authentic activities and itineraries is time, which not everyone has the ability to devote.
Elsewhere understands this, and because of its on-the-ground support and experts, it can save travelers massive amounts of planning time while offering them experiences that otherwise would be inaccessible to even seasoned travel planners.
Get started: Plan a trip of a lifetime with Elsewhere
Working with locals
A pillar of Elsewhere is local insight.
The company connects you with certified local travel agents who not only live in the destinations they serve but who also are wholly and completely immersed in those places.
Their years of experience and time spent building close personal connections with their local communities allow them to provide unforgettable, “unGoogleable” experiences, whether that’s tracking jaguars in the Pantanal region of South America or learning how to make traditional Japanese knives with an artisan. These are authentic, immersive experiences that create memories that last a lifetime.
“When you take a trip with Elsewhere, you’re getting up-to-date, reliable recommendations, like when you ask a trusted friend for advice,” said Bowen. “Our local experts invite you into their communities, introduce you to their culture and guide you to less-touristy locations and experiences that only they can show you. This is a surprisingly big differentiator in the business, but it’s what makes our trips so special.”
Tiago Rodriguez, Elsewhere’s charming Portugal expert, has nearly 20 years of travel industry experience under his belt. He’s known for going above and beyond for his travelers, as he did recently while planning a couple’s honeymoon.
After learning that the bride’s grandparents had been married in Portugal, Rodriguez took it upon himself to bring the newlyweds to the town where her grandparents got married. However, he didn’t stop there. He asked around to find any other connections to the bride’s family and, through his network of friends and locals, located someone who remembered the grandparents and took them to the specific church where they were wed.
Because of these types of direct connections, whenever you have a question, an idea or just some aspect of the trip you want to talk through, you won’t be dealing with call centers, long response delays or third parties. You will be speaking or interacting directly with the company’s local expert.
It’s not fun to talk about, but the unfortunate reality is that at times, the travel industry has done significant damage to not only the planet but also the people in the communities that travelers visit. Elsewhere believes in the power and importance of seeing the world while being mindful of the impact that travel experience may have on communities. Like physicians, their credo is: First, do no harm.
One in 11 people work in travel and tourism globally, but many aren’t paid a livable wage. The bulk of tourism revenue in many traditional models ends up in the pockets of large corporations based outside of the destination.
The typical international trip for U.S. travelers can leave as little as 10% of their travel dollars in the destination visited. The root of the problem with the industry is that this economic model perpetuates systemic issues, like low wages and poor working conditions.
When you travel with Elsewhere, you’re helping fight this economic leakage by eating, staying and patronizing local businesses.
“At Elsewhere, we [prioritize] ‘local’ at every turn so your tourist dollars are returned back into communities, empowering them with access to long-term, locally based income,” Bowen said.
“We thoroughly audit our entire supply chain, prioritizing proper wages and safe working conditions. We privilege women and other underrepresented members of society and ensure there is access to equal opportunities and career advancement.”
How Elsewhere works
To get started with planning one of these authentic and meaningful travel experiences with Elsewhere, you begin by filling out an online trip request. This 10-question form is all it takes for Elsewhere to get started matching you with a local expert.
Once that connection is made, the next step is a Zoom call to get the planning kicked into high gear. From there the local expert will do all the heavy lifting to craft a personalized, one-of-a-kind trip for you.
Elsewhere traveler Kyle Smith described his experience working with one of the company’s local experts to plan a trip to Italy like this:
We talked with Andrea [Gambino] a couple of times over a year ago and just told him about us and about what we like to do, and he took it from there and planned the most amazing trip. … He was so knowledgeable and helpful. It made the trip that much better.
Another Elsewhere client, Jane Ellen Miller, wrote the following in a review of her trip to Costa Rica:
[F]rom zip lines, to hanging bridges, coffee to waterfalls, volcanos to sunset cruises aboard a catamaran, [our local expert Guillermo Aguilar] had us covered. This was our daughter’s 6th birthday trip (she’s been asking to see the Monteverde Cloud Forest for over a year … no, really) and [he] even gave her small gifts along the way.
When Elsewhere is involved, experiencing a trip of a lifetime can be very simple.
All you have to do is pick the location, then talk to one of Elsewhere’s fabulous local experts. They will create an itinerary based on your preferences and then they will book everything for you — all through the Elsewhere platform.
The world is waiting for you, so what are you waiting for?