Souvenirs: wherever we travel, and whatever our taste, it’s more than likely that we’ll return from a holiday with something to remember it by. For some it’s postcards and ticket stubs. For others it’s perfectly painted ceramic bowls and intricate wooden carvings.
(For me, it’s all of the above, and whatever else I can fit in my suitcase on the return journey.)
These objects remind us of past adventures, and inspire us to go out and create new ones. This is probably why my shelves are filled not only with books, but trinkets from Tokyo flea markets, maps of where I’ve been, and prints of much-loved destinations.
Even my keys are adorned with travel memories (and not just because I’d lose the keys without a cluster of keychains!): clogs from The Dylan in Amsterdam, a poker chip from Vegas, and a giraffe from Footprints Children’s Home in Kenya. Now, though, I have memories from all 15 countries in my bag, thanks to the Traveller Collective Clip.
Handmade in Vancouver, the Traveller Collective Clip consists of a smooth brown leather strap, with small circular spacers attached to it; each spacer is engraved with an official country code, representing each country you’ve visited. You choose your strap, and then add the spacers, creating a personalised (and practical) souvenir.
It’s fun to flip through the 15 metal spacers on my clip, remembering who I was with, where we went, and what happened, memories from every foreign adventure I’ve had since the age of 12. But the Traveller Collective Clip is more than a way to jog fond memories of past adventures – it’s part of a movement that aims to make a real difference in communities around the world.
A quarter of the revenue from the Clips goes straight to the Traveller Collective Water Campaign, with the goal of raising at least $10,000 to provide a clean sustainable water source for a community of more than 300 people. The project is in partnership with charity:water, a New York City-based non-profit organisation which brings clean drinking water to communities that need it most.
“I’ve always felt pretty privileged to be able to travel the world and have always wanted to do something to give back,” Darryl McIvor, the founder of Traveller Collective, tells me over email from Vancouver. “Long before the idea for the Clip and the idea of raising money for clean water, I’ve wanted to create a movement for people who loved to travel and wanted to do something about the inequalities many of us have seen first hand.”
Darryl grew up in Northern Canada, embarking on his first big trip with a close friend in 2007, taking in the “typical four month tour of South East Asia”, of which he “loved every minute.” Travel, though, is a privilege, and his experiences around the world (in 28 countries and counting) helped inform the creation of Traveller Collective. As he writes on the Traveller Collective website, “It’s hard to comprehend that so many of us enjoy the privilege to explore every corner of this beautiful world while so many others don’t even have a basic necessity of life.”
The idea for a community focused on helping provide clean water came to him in India, back in 2013, where he took part in a homestay, helping the family with water duties. “Twice a day we’d trek down to their only water source, fill our buckets with questionably safe water then drag them back up to the house.”
“It was a painful process to say the least, and so much time out of the day was dedicated to this. They were such an amazing family and I knew that a safer, more efficient way to get water will help them and their family immensely. Unfortunately millions of families have to go through this same thing.”
While Darryl knew he wanted to play a role in helping communities get long-term access to clean water sources, he wanted to work with a successful non-profit, rather than create his own. “There’s so many amazing non-profits out there that are doing amazing work, have all the expertise and knowledge, but are simply lacking the needed funding.”
“I knew that I wanted to raise money for these organizations to be able to do more of the work they were created to do. That being said, I wanted to create something that travellers would really love and contribute that way.”
Traveller Collective achieves both these goals: offering a unique keepsake for travellers who love to document their adventures, and raising money for charity:water, who, as Darryl explains, “focus on building a ‘sustainable water source’ that we know will be used for decades to come.”
As someone in that travel-addict demographic who loves to document their stories (on this blog and elsewhere), I was immediately interested in the idea. My Traveller Collective Clip brings back happy memories, and – not unlike my little keychain from Footprints – reminds me how lucky I really am (it helps me find my keys too, but that’s another story altogether).
“Everyday I see my personal Clip and Spacers and they inspire me to get back on the road and continue to seek new experiences,” says Darryl. “I’m pretty passionate about creating a collective of world travellers who want to give back. I think there’s so many cool things we could do, but we’re focusing everything on the $10, 000 goal for now… It’s still relatively early on, but the feedback has been amazing so far. It’s very cool to see others who can get behind your mission!”
Love of travel and giving back: that’s a mission my suitcase and I can get behind.
If you’d also like to support the Traveller Collective mission, you can either purchase a Traveller Collective Clip, or donate directly to their charity:water campaign.
Thanks to Traveller Collective for sending me a complimentary Clip and making a donation to the campaign on my behalf. (Although my Clip was complimentary, I also made a personal donation because I think it’s such a great cause!)