PHOTO: A Global CommUnity traveler takes part in the Zikra Initiative, an exchange program in Jordan to bring communities closer together. / Photo courtesy of GLOBAL COMMUNITY
By BROOKE WANSER
When Christie Holmes started Global CommUnity last fall, it was a passion project and her second career.
As a child, Holmes lived in Greece for three years and traveled internationally because of her father’s work in global finance.
After college, Holmes worked in graphic design for a branding company, often advising travel agencies.
She noticed a hole in the industry: “When I was getting my feet wet, I said, there is just nothing here that’s a great family product to get them excited about traveling.”
She recalled a national push at the time to truly engage with other cultures through travel.
So after four years of planning, Holmes launched Global CommUnity, with the website nooneisforeign.com, at the end of 2017.
Holmes said she works with travel agencies and families, “to curate travel that’s purposeful and meaningful.”
With 26 different travel itineraries and more launching soon, Holmes gears each trip towards the ages of the children and family personalities.
Once a family books a trip, they receive pre-engagement materials, like recipes, books, and games. Families with young enough children will receive dolls designed in East Nashville to help explain what life is like in the region of the world to which they’re traveling.
The destination, exports, foods and religious and cultural practices are laid out in a matching storybook, written and illustrated by Holmes.
Travelers’ top destination picks include Italy, Ireland and Scotland, as well as Peru and China. Trips are typically seven days, with an additional three or four day add-on option available.
“They are fully serviced from the time they land in the country to the time they leave,” Holmes said.
A highlight of each trip is the community impact program, which teaches the family about preservation, environment or the economy in the country they are visiting.
Domestically, they partner with Whole Foods’ private nonprofit, the Whole Planet Foundation.
Another friendly touch is the opportunity to break bread with a local family.
When the family arrives back home, they will receive a cookbook of recipes from the region they visited.
Holmes places a high value on cultural exposure for her own family.
With a son and a daughter creeping into their teens, the Holmes partake in what they call a “mystery dinner” each month: they pick a different ethnic restaurant to try, keeping it a secret from the kids until they arrive.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, travel agencies have lost thousands of jobs in past years. But Holmes sees her business as a boon to both families seeking new cultural experiences and the travel agencies she works with.
“When the internet came out and information was new and accessible, people dropped their agencies,” she said, instead favoring internet experts like Rick Steves.
“Now there’s so much information, that people don’t have the time!” Holmes said.
With scarcity of time to research and vacation, Holmes believe many people know the value of an agent to weed through deals for them.
Simply put, “It’s worth my money to pay a little more to have someone do it for me,” she said.