You Got The Money And I Got The Time: Crowdfunding Travels

I recently signed up for this website: Trevolta, and I’m still waiting in the queue to get access to my account. You’re probably wondering what Trevolta is and if it’s related to John Travolta. “Tell me more! Tell me more!”


Trevolta is a global crowdfunding travel website. Travelers who sign up create expeditions and submit to the site for fundraising. These expeditions can not only be sponsored by interested and generous individuals but also companies and other people looking for marketing opportunities to increase their brand awareness, which I think is a pretty cool proposition. I mentioned in my presentation about Humans of New York this week that companies should aim to tell a story. What better way to tell a story than by funding a trip for an “everyday individual” to promote one’s brand? Each story would be personal and genuine. The trips will be posted on Trevolta’s blog along with photos and videos, and Trevolta wants its members to submit adventure plans that are impactful and unique, so plans for a trip to Las Vegas for a 21st birthday probably wouldn’t cut it.

Right now, access is private and is given in batches according to their website. Batch 1 is already signed up and planning trips so they can raise funds. I was too late for Batch 1, but hopefully, I’m in Batch 2 because I’m ready to jet set to Zimbabwe and volunteer at an orphanage for a week or two, or sunbathe on the tropical beaches of Tahiti, or pet baby sloths at the sanctuary in Costa Rica, or meditate with Buddhist monks on the peaks of Nepal, or ride elephants in a sari in the humidity of India. Or…DO THEM ALL ON ONE BIG TRIP AROUND THE WORLD.

We normally think of crowdfunding for creators (artists, musicians, inventors) or charities (like the Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser by HONY and Tumblr), but people have started to use crowdfunding to satiate their wanderlust. For most campaigns, a promise of a reward for the contributor will increase the likelihood that they will donate. For travels, that could be a copy of your travelling journal, a souvenir, a postcard, etc. 28-year-old Sam Wineman, an aspiring Californian filmmaker, created a Kickstarter to fund a trip through the Western U.S. He ended up raising over $3500. However Kickstarter does have the restriction that the money raised has to go towards a tangible creative project, so Wineman decided to use the money to film a series of blind dates along the way for webisodes. He had just broken up with his boyfriend, whom he thought he was going to spend the rest of his life with, so he thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to embark on a journey. He traveled through 12 cities with a film crew and uploaded videos of his travels and love adventures on YouTube. His videos are fun and he has an endearing personality that makes you support his endeavors and want him to succeed in his love life. Check out his first video below posted in October.

We always talk about our desires to travel the world, to try new things. Crowdfunding is making this more possible for those who don’t quite have the financial disposition on their own.


Ahh, that classic Tolkien quote. Even reading it makes me want to pack a knapsack, hop on a boat, and sail off to uncharted waters…I feel inspired to start a travel campaign of my own. I am looking for an eat, pray, love adventure in a foreign land, and maybe, I can use my adventures to fuel my novel writing (it’s in the works; I just keep getting writer’s block).

What do you think though? Is this the new way to travel? Would you ever start a campaign to fulfill your travelling desires…or do you feel uncomfortable “begging” for a fun time? Would you ever donate to someone else’s adventure plan?

If you want, sign up for Trevolta here: and begin your first crowdfunded adventure.



  1. This is a really cool site! Nice post! I don’t think I would feel weird asking people to fund my travels through crowdfunding, but I can’t really expect that anyone would want to and I can’t imagine doing it for others. Perhaps if I have a personal connection to someone’s story I would, but I can’t really picture this working on a large scale.

    This reminded me of another social networking/date site that funds traveling, but in a much less inspiring manner….
    ABC news-story:
    When I found out about this I was shocked, and pretty offended, but apparently a lot of ladies are getting to travel around the world for free by going on blind dates with rich men that pay for expensive vacations.

    Considering we hear about crazy sites like this all the time and this was another way to “fund travel” I figured I would bring it up. I have to say I have no problem with people crowdfunding travel, but this is just too far. Crazy.

    1. Although I share everyone else’s excitement about how cool it would be to have a trip crowd-funded, I think I most agree with Syd on this one…it would be so fun, but would people really want to fund a trip for me to go off and fulfill my wanderlust? And would I ever do that for someone else? It’s hard to imagine, quite honestly.

      Then again, I love the idea of funding a trip somewhere, and I know Nike has done this as part of its marketing strategy for a select few (not exactly crowdfunding, but still really cool). Definitely check out this video called “Make It Count” about one man’s travels if you haven’t seen it already:

      Also, MissTravel is absolutely ridiculous. Enough said.

  2. This was such an interesting post! The whole idea that you would be able to get funding for a trip is crazy to me, and yet it makes so much sense. I can see why companies would want to sponsor trips such as this since it would be great advertisement for them. It seems like a win win since the people who do it get to go on a trip too! I sure hope you are able to do it! I was kind of surprised at the video that you posted. The fact that Sam Wineman was able to get that much funding to go on dates throughout the western U.S. is crazy to me. It seems like such a simple idea and that it would really only be interesting/beneficial to him, but clearly people enjoy watching videos like this. I guess it’s for a similar reason that people enjoy watching reality television. Crowdfunding is clearly opening up a lot of doors. It will be interesting to see what other kinds of things people are able to do through such funding plans.

  3. Ellen this is such a cool post! Thanks for sharing Trevolta with us- this is such an amazing site and I’m definitely thinking about applying. I thought your blog post was really interesting for a couple of reasons; first of all, crowdfunding is becoming SO popular and when I first heard about crowdfunding I was a little confused, to be perfectly honest. Why would someone want to sponsor someone elses project, or a trip across the US to find love (in Sam’s case). Maybe I was being cynical, however, when I first heard about crowdfunding I just didn’t think it would really work (obvious this depended on the project/ adventure involved). However, crowdfunding is HUGE, evident through sites like Indigogo and Kickstarter. It’s honestly crazy how many things can be achieved through the help of others. After I first read your blog post, I must admit.. I was skeptical. I think my skepticism is similar to when I first heard about the concept of crowdfunding. Are others really willing to sponsor an adventure for someone else? Would a company be willing to let a stranger promote their brand abroad? Initially, I thought no. However, after some reconsideration I do think it’s possible. As we’ve seen with the popularity and success of crowdfunding sites, really anything is possible today (particularly with social media). Social media has allowed strangers to connect and develop similar interests (and maybe support someone you otherwise wouldn’t have even known). Although I am still really curious to see how crowdfunding & traveling will play out, I definitely think its possible. I can’t wait to see what happens with Trevolta & I hope you get the opportunity to participate! Thanks for sharing this site with us and definitely keep us posted with any updates!

  4. Hey Ellen- I’m really glad you posted about this as I’ve never heard or seen Travolta before. It seems like an amazing opportunity. It’s funny because they are actually a bit difficult to find at first as everything that comes up on Google is about John Travolta. However I was able to find their Twitter handle and it said that the first batch of people consisted of 30,000 individuals looking to get their trips funded! That’s astonishing to me that there’s enough people out their who want to donate their money to fund other people’s dreams. It truly is inspiring.

    On their Twitter page I watched one of their videos called “How to grow a beard: Travolta style” and it was a video of a man who walked from Beijing to Germany. Along the way, he never cut his hair or shaved his beard. While the purpose of the video was to show his journey, the hair provided a sense of time and truly showed how long and devoted he was to the process. I feel like these are the kinds of trip Travolta sponsors, people doing out of the ordinary things.

    I think this site would be more beneficial to companies who want to sponsor people as a form of advertising. Especially companies in the travel industry. These could be turned into amazing commercials or blogs for company websites tracking the experiences of sponsored individuals.

    Brooke- I agreed with you at first wondering how the man was able to get funded from the video. However after hearing him say it was funded by Kickstarter I decided to check out what Kickstarter was. Kickstarter is actually a company created solely for the purpose of funding people’s creative projects. So they are the perfect kind of company to fund people’s trips on Travolta.

    Also just a side note I think crowdfunding sites for kids looking to go to college but don’t have the funds would be an amazing idea. What do you guys think?

  5. Ellen, I think this is such an awesome idea. Halfway through reading the article, I immediately applied hoping I could sign up soon. This is such a cool idea, especially how it allows others to fund trips for random strangers. In response to Katie, I do think others would help fund others trips to interesting locations, especially if somebody is going for a unique reason (i.e. walking from Beijing to Germany). Because crowdfunding can take small initiatives of many people, I think the site can help immigrants (especially asylum-seekers) visit their families in their home countries. These immigrants could also sponsor others who are traveling to their home countries for a good cause (such as volunteering at an orphanage). This could help construct a social network between recent immigrants who still have ties back home who do not have the full financial means to pay for a trip back. I would love to see this happen because it can aid in the construction of a “good” world with committed world citizens.

    Like Katie mentioned, I am skeptical of how much a company would sponsor a trip unless it was done for PR or marketing reasons. It seems difficult to believe a company would be willing to pay for one person’s trip especially when a company might have employees willing to go on the same trips. However, I do believe a company could sponsor a trip for a person or group to go to a foreign country or even across country and do research about a new market. I believe a company would want somebody to talk to locals about these ideas, but I wonder if a non-employee would be the best person to do this type of research. Marketing the brand seems to be the best activity a person could do for a company, especially if that trip goes viral through social media (i.e. a short video with the brand’s name placed throughout the video).

    Despite my concerns, I still remain hopeful that crowdfunding will still work and help people pay for their travels. I can’t wait to get access, and I’m interested in seeing how the site will work.

  6. Interesting idea, but not sure I see it taking off. I keep thinking about what would compel me to fund someone elses trip, and the list of reasons is pretty small. I’d think it’d be less about “fun” and more about helping someone reconnect or realize a dream

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