Give me a little background about yourself?
I’m from a small village in southeastern France called Manosque. I studied economics and political science in college in Paris. I was always interested in travel and ended up going away on a lot of exchange programs to the Philippines, research projects in India, earthquake relief with kids in Haiti. I also worked as a social media consultant for the World Bank in Senegal. I have always wanted to work in tourism because I’m very passionate about it.
What is your professional / educational background and how did that enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?
I prefer to live in countries for more than 3 months, rather than just visiting. I worked and lived in India, Haiti, the Philippines, Senegal, Canada, and now the US.
When I worked at UNICEF, it was all online so that was also a great job for me that enabled me to travel for long periods of time.
How did you end up in this career / role?
I went on a four-month trip to Philippines with a friend of mine. I met with more than 50 actors of sustainable tourism and also encountered a lot of nonprofits that had trouble marketing themselves and needed help to set up a system that could host visitors.
When I went to work for a small cooperative in Quebec, Canada, I started learning about the for-profit world that worked with nonprofits to create a better world. That’s around the time that I met Michal and we decided to go into business as co-founders of Visit.org, an online platform that offers impactful tours and immersive experiences all around the world hosted by nonprofits. The tour revenue is channeled back into the local communities through the nonprofits.
What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?
I love the Philippines. You feel like you’re home because the people are very welcoming. It’s a beautiful country with 7,000 islands that consist of different subcultures. Despite that, it is very easy to communicate because the people are very open-minded. There are not many cultural barriers, as compared to other countries. For me, it was very easy to feel like I belonged there.
What's your favorite travel experience?
One of the most thrilling memories I have are of Spiti valley in India. I learned how to ride a motorbike from a Sikh neighbor we had. I rode around on that motorbike in Delhi for a month before going to the Spiti valley. Everybody kept honking at me, it was a very fun experience. In the Himalaya, I came across different populations and a variety of food. It was very scary (the road is very dangerous), but breath-taking. It’s another world, honestly.
Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?
I realized recently that I should have traveled more in France, my native country. We always tend to go far away and miss the places that are well worth visiting around. I’ll advise people to not wait and take short weekend trips to surrounding areas. You never know what you might find in your own backyard.
Another thing is believe is that any duration less than 3 months is not enough for a traveler to understand local cultures (even though visit.org experiences will help you with that!). Find a job in another country, get a travel bag and don’t come back for a while.
Violaine has a passion for traveling. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she spent a year in the Philippines, where she tried to visit as many of its 7,000 islands as she could. She also traveled in South East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Hong-Kong, India, Nepal). After the 2010 earthquake, she volunteered for an NGO in Haiti. Convinced that the practice of sustainable tourism is mutually beneficial for both visitors and local communities, she returned to the Philippines to study the effectiveness of community-based tourism. She enhanced this experience working for sustainable tourism cooperative in Quebec, Canada. She consulted for the World Bank in the field of impact evaluation and for UNICEF as a Community Manager. Violaine holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris, and a Bachelor in Sciences from Paris VI. She co-founded visit.org, an online platform that offers impactful tours and immersive experiences all around the world hosted by nonprofits. She speaks English and French.