Ground Asia, an educational travel organisation, is launching GroundRocks.com, a new online platform that’s dedicated to providing easily booked, affordable and constructive experiences for young people who want to give back when they visit Southeast Asia.
The platform is an extension of Ground Asia, which specialises in creating and operating development trips in Asia for institutions such as schools, colleges and universities. Young travellers can choose to come alone, or with couples and groups of friends and book online from options in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bali and Jogjakarta in Indonesia.
The GroundRocks programmes run for 18 days and are designed as transformational experiences for both the traveller and the host community. The local community benefits from projects such as school construction and maintenance, English lessons and agricultural work. The process builds leadership values, resiliency and cross-cultural understanding on both sides.
“Our journeys are developed with the objective of transforming young travellers through hands-on, positive experiences in Southeast Asia,” says Jack Bartholomew, the Vietnam-based general manager. Bartholomew is attending the World Youth and Student Travel Conference in Montreal this week, where the new platform will be unveiled and promoted.
The price of each 18-day trip varies from US$1,000 (Bt34,000) to $1312, including supervised community work, sightseeing, meals, and home-stay accommodation. Each trip is a structured balance of community work, organised days of cultural sightseeing and hiking to local nature attractions with a few days off as leisure included.
Each participant receives a certificate of participation at the end and has the option of joining flexible, guided extension trips. These are priced at $640 t$750 per person for eight days, with cheaper prices for shorter trips. Activities typically include hiking, sightseeing, snorkelling, bicycle rides and the like, and are more akin to a standard backpacker experience.
Both the 18-day community trips and the leisure extension trips run on guaranteed fixed departure dates, which are clearly shown on the website.
“GrondRocks.com makes it easy for young people wishing to spend time in Southeast Asia and give something back at the same time,” said Bartholomew. “The new website allows young people – or their parents – to book no matter where they are in the world. We make community-based trips in Asia simple and stress free.”