Why expeditions?
Reimagine travel for 21 century & beyond
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Let's reimagine travel and expeditions in 21 century
Discover a new purpose of travel and plan your trips with positive impact

We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron...

What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy.

And joy is, after all, the end of life.

We do not live to eat and make money.

We eat and make money to be able to live.

That is what life means and what life is for.

— George Mallory
My story with expeditions, from excitement to confusion, and back
Hi, this is Alex

I was lucky to be born in Altai, a unique place. It is a part of Siberia, which is vast by itself, but it is also a gateway to Central Asia and the Silk Road.

We didn’t spend our vacations going to beach resorts – the nearest sea was 2000 km away, and it was the Arctic Ocean. My first holiday trip was a 200-km mountain hike, and the first country to visit was Western Mongolia.

Alex and his ancient friend in the Altai mountains of Siberia
We had a fair share of explorers and adventurers. Alexander von Humboldt was the first person to leave a review in our local museum, so as a kid, I thought he must be a local too. Altai heavily influenced the expedition of Nicholas Roerich, who went on an epic journey from Altai to the Himalayas. Overall, what was exotic and challenging for visiting adventurers, was a fairly regular life for us. Vacations:)
That's how I became a nature guide, and organizing expeditions for me became a way to travel and earn a living. From Siberia to Central Asia, then to Tibet, and the rest of the world. That's how I organized journeys to 40+ countries worldwide, and the whole travel portfolio of Geographic comes from my professional background.

But as I got to know the world more, I started to feel weird about expeditions. I learned about colonization and the post-colonial world, where even independent states are so dependent on their former metropoles that they can’t get out of poverty.

And it made me depressed for years.
The problem with colonization
Expedition is a word with a strong colonial background. White people went to faraway lands (often someone else’s home), pinned their flag, and called it a geographic discovery.

The Age of Exploration often led to exploitation – and even in places that became remarkably rich as a result of colonization, this wealth didn't last long.
Take Potosi in Bolivia as an example. Few people know its name today, but during the colonial time, it was one of the richest and largest cities in the world. There's a saying that you could build a bridge to Spain with all the silver mined from Potosi Cerro Rico ("rich mountain"). But the saying continues: you could build two more bridges with the bones of all workers who died in the mine.

The view to Cerro Rico, Potosi
Colonies played a huge role in history. Without Inkas gold and Potosi silver, European history – and the world today – would look completely different. But for colonies, this story is different. Madrid was just a village back then, while Potosi was as big as Paris or London, producing 60% of the world's silver. But today, it is just another poor city in the Bolivian Altiplano, and very few people can find it on the world map.
However, an expedition doesn't necessarily mean "colonization". By definition, an expedition is a journey with a particular purpose. And in the 21st century, we have quite a few purposes to pursue. That’s why I think expeditions can be reimagined, decolonized, and serve an important purpose.

But for that, we need to sail away from the colonial mindset of the past and take a journey in the opposite direction – local empowerment.

But before we get there, let's talk about modern travel.
The new story of travel
In the past, expeditions were an activity for a very limited number of people, like Shackleton or Mallory, who put their lives into trying to reach places nobody had been before.

Today, people travel everywhere, and in some places, there are even too many visitors. Everyone can be an adventurer, which creates infamous queues on Chomolungma and makes people in the Canary Islands go on hunger strike.

Climbers queue on Khumbu icefall on the way to Chomolungma
Photograph by Mark Fisher, National Geographic
But travel is a unique, and very important activity. It has a rare superpower: to redistribute wealth from urban to rural and less-developed areas.

Let's look into it deeper.

If you live in the countryside and go to the supermarket, money moves to the supermarket owners and food manufacturers, who are usually based in bigger cities and wealthier countries. Imported goods are often perceived as higher quality and more desirable.

That’s why places like New York are so rich: they are the hearts of our money circulation system.
However, travel has the potential to work oppositely: people from big cities go outside, paying money for local products and services. Local often means interesting, natural, organic – something that people can’t get in their cities.
The problem with post-colonial tourism
Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t work this way. Currently, if you travel abroad, up to 95% of your travel budget stays elsewhere but not in the destination of your visit.

You can't imagine how many middlemen and international corporations are after your travel budget. After all, the global travel industry is worth 11 trillion dollars, 10% of the global GDP.

Map of resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico
  • Booking websites take about 25% of your booking value. Normally, they don't charge you directly, but they take money back from hotels and tour operators, so this fee is invisible to you.

  • Airline tickets are another big chunk of the travel budget – we need to fly if we go far, but a disproportionally large sum of money goes to the most boring part of the trip. And airlines don't even get this money – most of the ticket money is fuel, so the biggest winners of your travel are petroleum corporations.

  • Hotels and resorts are often owned by international corporations, which means that a big part of the revenue and 100% of profits go to cities like London and New York even if you stay in Mexican Riviera Maya or Tanzanian Serengeti.

  • Senior management are also often foreigners, and their salaries are a big part of your hotel rate.

  • Even the food that you get in restaurants – from Norwegian salmon to American beverages, very little is local. Also, the way how they produce Norwegian salmon is another long sad story.

The remaining 5% of the money goes to receptionists, cleaners, gardeners, drivers, and tour guides – a few locals who actually represent destination of your trip. Plus, some local taxes (usually heavily "optimized").

So if you spend $10,000 on a trip, as little as $500 stays in the destination.
Let's make it better
That’s what we want to improve by reimagining expeditions. What if the purpose of the expedition is not to colonize, but to empower and support? What if we buy local and travel with less negative impact? That’s what we do in Geographic and its sister brand Travelhood – connect global travelers with local experiences, so both of you gain from this interaction

Visiting Arman, the champion of Ulgii Golden Eagle Festival
As a traveler, you buy local, high-quality products, get authentic, genuine experiences, and meet people who are happy to see you.

As a local, you connect with mindful customers, earn and develop your business, and make your place better for you, your community, and future generations.

As a business, we earn money, but by empowerment and education instead of exploitation.

For your next holiday, consider going on an expedition with Geographic, to be sure that your itinerary and budget are professionally planned, and that you experience more while contributing to the place of your visit.

And this is just the beginning of our long journey of creating better travel.
  • Alex Farlander
    I'll be happy to connect and hear your thoughts
More Impressions,
Less emissions
Every expedition is designed to bring a positive impact to the places of your visit and reduce the negative impact of the trip.
  • Without excessive flights
    Instead of flying more, travel deeper and spend more time in places that deserve your attention. You'll love it, and create a more positive impact.
  • Powered by local businesses
    Each Expedition employs dozens of local businesses, which creates more local jobs, ensures a better life quality in remote areas, and connects you with amazing people who are so hard to find
  • Careful about spending money
    Tourism money is powerful. We ensure that your budget is spent on experiences, administrative costs are as low as possible, and no unethical service providers slip into your travel itinerary.
Your new favorite places
Discover the most amazing places in the world, connect with its people, and find your new favorite corners on the planet
You'll love its connection with nature and technology: Estonia is the future, even though it looks like old castles and forests
Mexico has so much to experience beyond beach resorts, from Yucatan forests to the mountains of Sierra Madre, and each of its 130+ magic towns is different!
There's no Everest or Machu Picchu in South Africa, but it's one of the best countries to visit – you just need to know where to go
Mongolia is unique – you can point your finger anywhere on the map, go there, and have a great time in that place. People will be happy to see you, and their way of living will be so different!
Argentina is more than Buenos Aires, tango and beef – it's also Patagonia, the Andes, Iguazu selva, and pastoral living
Peru is more than just Machu Picchu. Peru is the country of celebrations – they have amazing local festivals nearly every week, with epic events a few times a year. Also, the heritage of the Inkas (and pre-Inkas) is more than alive in Peru.
Namib means "vast" and "empty", but it's not boring – it's wild, beautiful, and welcoming. No wonder so many BBC and NatGeo documentaries are filmed there.
Spectacular drives, beautiful hikes, amazing people: each island of New Zealand deserves its own expedition