Boulder resident Jeff Blumenfeld is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Fellow of The Explorers Club (explorers.org) based in New York, where he serves as chairman of its Rocky Mountain chapter, and member of its prestigious Flag & Honors Committee.
He is editor and publisher of Expedition News, an online publication (expeditionnews.com) he founded in 1994 to cover news about the adventure marketing field. Excerpts from Expedition News also appear in The Explorers Club quarterly Explorers Journal.
He is also president of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA.org), and a writer for Skiing History magazine.
His first book was Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would-be World Travelers (Skyhorse, 2014).
In 2013 and 2017 he served as communications director for the Dooley Intermed Foundation’s “Gift of Sight” Expedition to Nepal — an effort to bring badly needed quality eye care to 700 impoverished villagers. Blumenfeld is an adjunct lecturer at CU’s College of Media, Communication and Information. Prior to that, he volunteered as a chaperone on a high school trip to Antarctica.
His second book published in April 2019 is Travel With Purpose: A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).
He grew up in Monticello, New York, in the legendary Catskill Mountain “Borscht Belt,” just 10 miles from the site of the famed Woodstock Festival. Yes, he attended, but doesn’t remember much.
Available for: Book clubs and public speaking.
Travel With Purpose: A Field Guide to Voluntourism
Imagine yourself in a schoolroom in one of the most remote regions of one of the most hard-to-reach countries on earth. Nepal. The Lower Mustang region to be exact. To reach it takes a 14-hour flight from New York to Doha, Qatar. Then four hours by air to Kathmandu. Transfer at one of the world’s most dangerous airports to a 90-minute flight to Pokhara, followed by a jarring, eight-hour Jeep ride over a vertiginous dirt road – one side is a mountain wall, the other side a two-hundred-foot cliff.
Finally, you arrive, but it’s not just any schoolroom. It has been converted into an operating room so that doctors from New York Eye & Ear Infirmary can provide the gift of sight to 24 Nepalis who were blind due to advanced cataracts.
Jeff Blumenfeld witnessed this first hand. He was there as a traveler, but also as a volunteer. A voluntourist.
People often wonder how they can explore the world and help the less fortunate even if they don’t possess specialized skills. These are people who make lousy vacationers. They’re bored sitting on a beach or touring umpteen churches on a cruise ship excursion. They want a meaningful role when they travel.
That’s where voluntourism comes in – a mix of both travel and volunteering. Is it hard work building wells and schoolhouses or excavating dinosaur bones? Yes, it is. But voluntourism doesn’t take a particular outdoor skill, just plenty of sweat and the desire to see the world and leave it a better place.
Travel With Purpose deals not with celebrities, nor the rich and famous. Instead, it relays examples from Blumenfeld’s travels and many others from Las Vegas to Nepal. From health care facilities to impoverished schools. These are stories of inspiration from everyday people, all of whom have definite opinions about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation.
You don’t need to be wealthy to travel to foreign lands to volunteer; you may not even have to go to foreign lands, as opportunities may exist within your own state. Blumenfeld shows readers how to identify the right location and volunteer situation, how to go about planning trips and preparing for activities, how to reach out, how to help. Through vivid examples and first-hand stories from both recipients of volunteer work and the volunteers themselves, Travel with Purpose may make you rethink your next vacation.