TravelJar: Meet the Upscale Tour Operator Mixing Conservation and Exploration

The “experience economy” is on the rise and yet more and more people are concerned with the environment and overtourism. What is the responsible solution? Luxury Travel Advisor London correspondent Emily Goldfischer met with Libby White, director of experiences at TravelJar, a bespoke luxury expedition company, offering access to exotic locations and cultures while taking the utmost care to maintain and preserve the natural environment by including a charity component on every journey.

Here’s a piece of our conversation with White:

Why did you start TravelJar?

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It came about as part of my own experience with a trip to Zambia in 2015, and I learned the treatment of the animals was not ethical, even though I thought I had done thorough research about my safari! After further investigation, I realized that the industry needed to do more—there was a gap in the market in terms of what can and should be done to support the local communities and the environment to make this kind of luxury travel viable and sustainable. I started TravelJar in 2017 with Jacques Rudolph, a former professional cricket player from South Africa who shared my passion, and my now-husband Andrew White, (who I actually met on my first Zambia trip), with a dream to do better.

What makes TravelJar different? 

Our core mission is to allow travelers access to unique experiences and destinations, but always with the conservation and community engagement woven organically into the journey. Each bespoke itinerary includes a charity component, ranging from sending guests along on rescue missions with David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, a wildlife crime and poaching prevention organization, and Rhino 911, a charity that provides emergency helicopter rescue to injured rhinos, to educational experiences with local schools in Africa, teaching them about preservation as well as social causes, such as Mabel, a sustainable feminine hygiene initiative. We only work with lodges, camps and companies that are committed to conservation, supporting local communities and reducing waste, so, as we grow into new destinations such as India, the Maldives and Seychelles, it will be through those types of organizations.

What are your most popular itineraries?

African safaris, particularly Zambia for a behind-the-scenes visit to the Elephant Orphanage Nursery Facility run by Game Rangers International. We also offer photographic journeys in Africa with award-winning wildlife photographer Nelis Wolmarans, a local expert who’s led over 100 gorilla expeditions. We also do many trips around South Africa and Cape Town, with the ability to visit ethical and organic wineries and farms, sampling farm-to-table dining along the way.

How do you work with travel advisors?

Just as travel advisors would work with other travel suppliers, we offer a commission for booking clients that want our custom itineraries and are committed to an ethical trip. Working through us, travel advisors can benefit from our deep knowledge, network of