Modern Adventure, founded by Luis Vargas, believes travel can be a force for good. 

So you want to start traveling again? Even pre-pandemic, travelling has always been a hassle, an exercise in patience, wrought with hair-pulling frustrations, unhelpful guides, and dubious search results.

Right here in Portland, travel companies are focused on creating experiences that are not only more convenient, but also avoid the ethical trappings of booking though global companies. From group trips that focus on investing into local communities to curated outdoor excursions for people of color and their allies, here are four Portland-based companies changing the way we travel.

Luis Vargas (center left), the founder of Modern Adventure, leads a group during a recent trip to Oregon's Willamette Valley. 

Modern Adventure 

What makes a trip good? Is it the high-end hotel and resort we stayed at? Or is it the stories we return with?

At Modern Adventure, a tour agency that curates group travel experiences in the US and abroad, finding the narrative arc of each trip “is an art and a science,” says founder Luis Vargas And while group travel and shared experiences are at the heart of Modern Adventure, Vargas says while creating each trip’s itinerary, they’re sure to leave “whitespace for people to have their own experience.” 

With trips currently scheduled in the coming months in the French Alps, Oaxaca, Peru, Japan, Costa Rica, Vietnam, and more, Modern Adventure also pays keen attention to who they choose to work with, focusing on investing its tourism dollars into smaller, local communities.

“The power of shared experiences and the quality of a relationship that can be built over a short amount of time is amazing.... And I think also with the you know, context of having gone without, for so long to all of a sudden to have this really rich, immersive social experience is really compelling,” Vargas says.

TrovaTrip

On the topic of group trips, what if, instead of just going on one, you’d like to host your own? That’s where TrovaTrip, headquartered in Portland, comes in.

Founded in 2017, TrovaTrip is a trip planning and management platform that enables topic experts, influencers, and small businesses to host group trips with their audience around the globe. Once onboarded, hosts can pick an itinerary offered by a certified tour operator and use the platform to create personalized trips, pick pricing, sell spots, and manage bookings, and each trip comes with an expert guide provided by the tour operator to ensure a seamless experience in-destination. 

The company, like many others, suffered during the early part of 2020, but as the year progressed, TrovaTrip’s bookings nearly tripled, with more than 350 trips planned for the remainder of 2021 and 2022.

“Travel has the power to bring the world closer together. After such a challenging year, we all are in need of community, culture, and a well-earned vacation.” says Nick Poggi, TrovaTrip CEO and cofounder. 

Recently, TrovaTrip announced a $5 millionventure capital funding led by Seattle-based PSL Ventures.

Sarah Smith and Kevin Long of The Dyrt. 

The Dyrt

Sometimes the best way to learn about a campsite is through word of mouth—by folks who have been there, seen that.

Born out of the frustration of searching for a campground online, Sarah Smith founded the website The Dyrt in 2015 (and its app, launched in 2017), aimed at helping campers navigate their outdoor experiences. 

To date, The Dyrt has crowdsourced more than 2.5 million photos, reviews, and tips for around 40,000 campgrounds across the US. Since its founding, The Dyrt has grown significantly, and 2020 was its biggest year yet. About 14 millions campers visited The Dyrt in 2020. Last year, the Dyrt also introduced its pro membership, which offers select discounts to campers, the ability to search offline on the app, and more. 

The Dyrt also offers plenty of resources for novel and experienced campers, including an explorer contest, where campers can win prizes for reviews of visited campgrounds, forums, and The Dyrt Magazine, which offers tips, spotlights, and more.

Camp Yoshi

Don’t confuse trips with Camp Yoshi as just another glamping excursion.

OK, yes. Folks who participate Camp Yoshi’s multi-day trips—in 2022 the group has trips planned in Southeast Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and California—are treated to such southern-inspired meals by Camp Yoshi founder, Chef Rashad Frasier, as caramel braised short ribs with heirloom grits, braised chicken in corn ragu, and basil fried rice, plus craft cocktails, but prepare yourself for a true nature immersion with no cell phones and no Google. Participants are encouraged to work together, respect the nature, and enjoy the beauty of the land. No camping experience required. And save for bringing your own sleeping and bag, Camp Yoshi has got you covered with an all-inclusive package. 

Founded during 2020, amid a global pandemic and racial injustice protests, Camp Yoshi hopes to give Black people the confidence to safely explore some of the most beautiful and remote locations in the U.S. Each trip is curated for people of color and their allies, combining gourmet cooking with innovative wilderness experiences. Choose from one of their more than 20 trips they have planned in 2022.

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