LOTUS Nomads, Uniquely Responsible Travel

Nomadic Musings

St. Clare Coffee @ 654 Mission St. Relationally sourced, responsibly made. Good from bean to cup! @stclarecoffee #coffee #goodmorning #globetrotgraciously #sanfrancisco #sf

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Dahdahda! Suuuuuper donut! Each month Sidecar donates 75% of one flavor to an awesome organization making the world a better place. Stop in, get yours and feel good! #donuts #globetrotgraciously #santamonica #yummy @sidecardoughnuts

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Shebeen & Paperboy. Bites, Bibations & Bliss in the CBD. Stop by! Melbourne VIC #melbourne #yummy #dogood #globetrotgraciously

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Good2Go Coffee, Hosier Lane Melbourne VIC #globetrotgraciously #coffee #melbourne #homelessness #graffiti #hosierlane

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Veterans Memorial. #newhaven #nhv #thankyou #neverforget #vets #rip

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#wales #morning #ponies Shoutouts @omarbles

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#sanfrancisco #lyonsteps #stopandsmelltheflowers

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#London #graffiti Great finds in East London alleys

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Bike rides through rice paddies are the best. #srilanka

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Vijaya Beach, Fort Galle, Sri Lanka #srilanka #nofilter #sunset

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#sanfrancisco #graffiti

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#sanfrancisco #graffiti

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Long Island light #long island sound #new haven #nhv

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California Coastin'

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Travel Tips Nomads Can’t Live Without

At Nomads, we pride ourselves on our travel prowess – some tips to make your trip that much more enjoyable. Compiled by Yosef Lerner, find the full list here.

1. If you forget your wall plug, charge devices through the USB slot on a TV.

2. A shower cap is an easy way to cover the bottoms of shoes.

3. Put smartphones in airplane mode to save battery and charge faster.

4. When packing, line collars with a belt to keep them crispy.

5. Sit in the seats near the wing of the plane for the least turbulence.

6. To use Google Maps offline, type “OK Maps,” and the visible area will save for future access.

7. Use your GPS when traveling abroad.If you’re traveling abroad without an international plan, turn on airplane mode and turn off data to use the GPS without connecting to the internet. Simply load the Google map of the area before heading out the hotel, and you’ve got a fully functional map to navigate the area.

8. Forget your charger? Often times hotel front desk’s will have a box full of chargers left by previous guests.

9. Remove tourists from your vacation photos:

  1. Set your camera on a tripod or stable surface.
  2. Take about 15 pictures every 10 seconds.
  3. Open all the images in Photoshop by going to File>Scripts>Statistics. Choose “Median” and select the files you took.
  4. Photoshop finds what is different removes it! Voila

10. For saves the day points, travel with a power strip and be the airport hero.

BONUS: On your last day in a foreign country, collect all your loose change and donate it – an exchange bureau won’t convert coins.

Innovator Insights: Slavery Seen & Solved

It’s an uncomfortable truth: people are still trapped in slavery, and not just in agriculture and manufacturing, the two sectors that may come to mind immediately. “Both the consumer and industry need to think beyond the tag,” said Arati Sureddi, Ashoka American Express Emerging Innovator and founder of LOTUS Alliance, an organization committed to cutting across sectors to fight human trafficking.

Some people have been enslaved to do service industry work. “Just because there is no barcode attached does not mean that the supply chain is free of exploitation,” Sureddi said. “Services are 60 percent of our global economy.”

When Sureddi came to understand this herself, the concept for LOTUS was born. She is the daughter of immigrants and has traveled to six continents. “LOTUS is an amalgamation of my life experiences, education, work, and travel,” she said. “There is a lack of awareness of human rights abuses within service industry supply chains.”

To build this awareness, LOTUS Alliance lists responsible service sector providers, ensuring that travelers are well-informed about hotels they visit and the services they are seeking. LOTUS works to promote organizations that guarantee fair and humane practices, hoping to build public appreciation for social responsibility alongside environmental responsibility while highlighting the financial incentives that come of being accountable.

LOTUS also funds job training programs for survivors of human trafficking operated by direct service organizations working in geographic regions where tourism is a significant economic driver.

“Tourism is the largest employer globally, generating 10 percent of all jobs. There are 60 million additional tourism jobs projected by 2018,” Sureddi said. Much of this growth is taking place in emerging economies where the laws governing employment and human rights practices are more lax.

Sureddi said LOTUS is creating a platform that “systematically generates funding for adult survivors, or those at-risk of being trafficked; increases consumer awareness and the ability to make responsible purchases; and shifts the focus of responsible tourism from being solely on green initiatives to human-based ones.”

Sureddi noted that Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup, and the upcoming 2016 Olympics, has brought more attention to the issue of human trafficking. But, she added, “one does not become either a trafficker or a victim just for a certain set of time.

“We have watched as the Brazilian government has bent to FIFA’s demands and foreigners’ fears, clearing out the favelas in Rio that are closest to tourist areas. Brazil was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery in 1888, and it would appear that it is moving back toward a slave state, using those at the bottom to support the lifestyle of the wealthy. Frankly, I am more concerned about what will happen when the entire world’s eyes are no longer on Brazil.”

Which begs the question: how many other places in the world—perhaps in our own backyard—conceal an intricate web of human trafficking? Fortunately, as consumers, we have the power to make conscientious decisions that can leave a lasting impact.

“We can be a more proactive and educated society about this issue,” Sureddi said. “I would rather see an individual spend more money on a socially responsible item, and not give a penny to charity, than buy cheap goods with poor labor practices and donate to other organizations. To give with one hand and take with the other isn’t helping anything. No abolition organization wants to exist in perpetuity.”

Doing Good on a Budget: An Interview with College CFO

Posted on 04/23/14 by CollegeCFO  

Meet Arati Sureddi. She is a social entrepreneur who has worked at start-up non-profits all over the world. In 2013, she founded LOTUS Alliance, a social enterprise addressing human trafficking and forced labor through the responsible tourism industry. LOTUS Nomads, an online travel agency that lists hotels upholding the highest human rights standards and labor practices, is her latest venture.

Last week, I got the chance to sit down with Arati and talk about her initiatives and what it means to ‘do good’ on a budget. I left inspired and ready to make changes in how I spend my money.

How can you afford to devote yourself to your passion at such a young age?

They say that start-ups need to run lean, but much of my experience has been with non-profits in developing countries, which takes lean to a new level. For me, it’s not so much of an adjustment but I am still really disciplined with my finances because I know that funds spent wisely can create a sizable impact for the better.

What does it mean to ‘do good’ on a budget?

College students, like entrepreneurs, are often on a very tight budget. Certainly, you don’t have large amounts of cash to donate. But you might also find yourself passing on socially or environmentally minded goods because they can be more expensive than alternatives, but that’s not always the case! You don’t have to pay a premium to do good. Zara is a great example of this as its somewhere that many college age individuals shop and is competitively priced but Zara scores significantly better on labor rights and practices than comparable brands. Also, a report on coffee – which I’m sure the majority of us live on – was just released; some of the findings will probably surprise you, remembering that organic is not synonymous with fair labor. I really encourage people to look into how their favorite brands rank on a transparent rating system; you have the power to do good simply by being mindful and spending wisely.

How can I find out which companies have good labor practices?

There are a lot of resources out there that tell you which companies are operating responsibly. Free2Work.orgprovides information on forced and child labor practices at companies in a number of industries.EatShopSleep is an app that tells you if a company owes backwages, which tells you if they’re paying their employees. B Lab is a certification that identifies good businesses and is transparent in their process.

LOTUS Nomads, launching later this year will also be a valuable resource. It screens hotels for labor practices and human rights standards only listing those that meet a certain criteria. Discounts will be available for students and proceeds from the site will be donated to non-profits serving adult survivors of human trafficking. Check out their website for more information.