Ask An Alumni: A Thailand Trip through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Traveler
“This trip and this experience ignited a passion in me to save them. I’d like to do more. The volunteering is helping out, but I want to be an elephant activist. It definitely sparked something in me to help them and save them.” – Linda S.
For Linda, the 9-day Thailand: Elephants & Islands trip ignited a passion for elephants that she plans to act on for the rest of her life. Linda has always been a believer in traveling with purpose and volunteering, specifically called to work with wildlife, and after a life-changing experience working with elephants the effects of the trip will be long lasting. Specifically, the relationship she formed with one of the elephants at the sanctuary, Nicole.
Why did you choose Discover Corps versus another travel company?
I had never volunteered overseas before and never with elephants, but volunteering with animals is something I have a passion for. I do volunteer work at home at different animal shelters and sanctuaries in the US, and making a difference is important to me. It makes me happy to volunteer, which was what drew me to Discover Corps.
What made you choose this trip in particular?
I set a goal for myself that every year I’ll go somewhere I’ve never been. I talked to a lot of people who had traveled with elephants and loved it, and they’re no different than other animals. This felt like the perfect option because I could volunteer and relax – it was a great balance.
What is one thing you wish you’d known before traveling to Thailand?
I knew it would be hot, but it was very hot and humid. I went during the dry season and our guide said they have two seasons, hot and very hot. Definitely and be prepared.
Tell us about the most memorable experience from your trip.
An elephant named Nicole, definitely. I say Nicole because when we went back to the sanctuary the second day, when she saw me she let out a squeal almost. She was happy to see me. At first I thought I was doing something wrong, and she just let out this noise I can’t really describe, but she wasn’t angry – she was happy to see me. Even the guide was impressed. And she had the exact same reaction when she saw me on the third day as well. I gave her a leg rubs, and someone told me if you blow into their truck they’ll know you for life. I loved spending time with her. That’s something that I’m going to take with me for the rest of my life.
What I want to do is go to Thailand every year and see her. I believe elephants are very intuitive and I think they can see very deep into you. You can tell they’re very smart, majestic and just amazing animals. This trip and this experience ignited a passion in me to save them. I’d like to do more. The volunteering is helping out, but I want to be an elephant activist. It definitely sparked something in me to help them and save them.
What did you think of your guide? What about your accommodations?
The guide was great I really enjoy him. He was definitely a local which I liked. All accommodations definitely felt safe – I had a studio room with a kitchen, patio, living room. The Wi-Fi was slow and spotty at times, but I didn’t really care. I was there for the elephants!
What you would say to someone thinking about traveling to Thailand with Discover Corps?
I was just very impressed with elephant sanctuary Discover Corps chose. It’s still relatively new and I just loved it. The staff is amazing and they’re dedicated to elephants and their happiness. It was educational as well and I definitely learned a lot about the Buddhist culture. A lot spoke with me.
Just be prepared for the weather depending on time of year going. Bring sunblock, close toed shoes for working with the elephants because you walk into the woods with them, and bring clothes you don’t care about because you are going to get dirty. They’ll give you water, so stay hydrated. Otherwise just relax and have fun – everybody there is wonderful.
Visit our Thailand: Elephants & Islands trip to learn more and to download a detailed day-by-day itinerary. Questions for Linda? Let us know in the comments or reach out at 619-758-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org!