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Featured Traveler: Go Voluntouring’s Aaron Smith

For Aaron Smith, travel and doing good are natural companions. The founder and managing director of GoVoluntouring brings new meaning to conscientious travel, rescuing sea turtles from poachers, building eco-friendly structures in the Indian Himalayas, and advocating great white shark conservation in South Africa—all in a day’s adventure. GoVoluntouring connects travelers with volunteer opportunities such as these, making them easy not only to find, but to finance using a crowd-sourced approach. Since launching the business in 2010, Aaron and his team have sent more than 10,000 volunteers to 102 countries on projects spanning medical aid to wildlife conservation. When he’s not abroad for work, his travels feel inspired by the culture, beauty, and people around him—even if he’s just having a drink in Belize.


See all of Aaron’s Highlights.

Right now I’m in East Vancouver, BC.

Though I would much prefer to be in Costa Rica doing sea turtle rescue.

Occupation: Founder and Managing Director of GoVoluntouring.

My next trip is to Puglia, Italy.

My last trip took me to Guatemala.

Hand-crafted Day of the Dead statues are my most treasured travel souvenir.

Favorite hotel: Africa House Hotel, Zanzibar.

Favorite restaurant: Acorn, on Main Street in Vancouver.

Favorite shopping destination: The Portobello Road Market in London, UK.

If you’re in Vancouver over Halloween don’t miss the Parade of Lost Souls.

Night markets are the best way/place to connect with locals.

Jet lag: Nap, power through, pills, or herbal remedies? Power through it of course. OK that’s a lie…Red Bull.

First thing you do when you get home:  Hug my daughters.

Where do you always take out-of-town friends? To the top of Grouse Mountain.

Favorite travel book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids: Hiking in Sedona, Arizona, with my daughters, then watching them eat fresh rattlesnake for the very first time.

Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home: Confronting sea turtle poachers in Guatemala, or entering a hot-sauce tasting contest in Belize.

Biggest travel mistake? Drinking Viper Rum in Belize. Don’t do it. Surprised I am alive to answer this question, actually.

Favorite foreign word or phrase: Pura Vida (Costa Rica).

Favorite foreign tradition: The siesta, or the call to prayer (in Zanzibar specifically).

Travel has taught me things are never better, or never worse. Just different.

Photos courtesy of Aaron Smith