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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mormon Explorer - Uniting Through Travel

by jpaul (bio)
by Roy Peckham (bio)

A small team of travelers, designers and entrepreneurs have been working for several years to build a free website that will bring together Mormons who share a common love for traveling. We are excited to announce that launches today!

Imagine being over in Italy and you would like to know when the closest church starts and where it is located. Let's say you would like to meet and eat with a local family in Peru while touring historic sites. How about hosting a family from Russia in your home when they come to Utah for General Conference for the first time? These are just a few of the possibilities with Mormon Explorer.

Our vision is to use the well-connected LDS community to create a network of explorers who are open to the idea of connecting with members from across the world while traveling. Meeting up with local members while traveling globally is a great way to make new friends, save money, and truly experience the culture of your travel destination. It's like having a good friend with local hookups wherever you decide to travel.

The idea for Mormon Explorer began two years ago when I took my family on a three-week adventure through a number of European countries. With two kids (one and three years-old) on a student income (or lack thereof), we had to be creative in how to stretch our budget to be able to experience the best Europe had to offer. We quickly identified our nightly hotel costs as the largest and most manageable expense. We experimented with the different options available; budget hotels, hostels, and staying with friends (some whom we met at church and others through online communities). By far, our most memorable experiences from the trip were the evenings we spent in the homes of strangers, sharing meals and sharing stories.

Our kids especially preferred staying with families who had young children over crowded hotel rooms. They didn’t speak the same language most the time, but what kid doesn’t know the language of “play time?” While in Switzerland, we slept in a house older than the United States nestled between rolling hills that could easily be mistaken for golf course greens. When our car broke down in the middle of nowhere Italy, we were only able to sort out the mess with the help of an LDS Italian family who took us into their home for several days and made our family of perfect strangers feel at home in Milan. Across five different countries, we made friends, came to appreciate new cultures, and I can’t help but think that we taught our children the increasingly important skill of global awareness.

Why travel the world to stay in an American chain hotel? Come explore the world the way it was meant to be seen. It’s a small world when you’re LDS, and it is about to become even smaller.

The website is completely FREE - no gimmicky “one-month trial,” no CTR ring advertisements following you as you scroll, and no LDS spam-mail headed your way for signing up. So join, share the website with your friends and family, tweet about us and give us a shout-out on Facebook.

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