As travelers, we often collect “trip tokens” as a way of materializing our memories. But what if there were a way to give back to the world while compiling those keepsakes?
This idea was the seed that became Traveller Collective.
Founded in 2015 by Darryl McIvor of Vancouver, Traveller Collective offers a product that is simple — yet sentimental — in an effort to overcome the “massive inequalities” in our world. Handmade by McIvor and his team in Vancouver, the product is a leather keychain clip with washer-like rings that are engraved with a two- or three-letter code representing every country, U.S. state or Canadian province you’ve visited.
The clips — which come in brown, black and tan — cost $18.50 apiece, while the metal spacers range from $2 to $3.25 each. Up to 25 percent of every sale goes toward nonprofits and charitable causes around the globe.
We caught up with Darryl to chat about the creation of Traveller Collective, the impact it’s having on global communities and what’s coming next for the company.
Independent Traveler: Tell us a little bit about the Traveller Collective product. Why a keychain clip and spacers, rather than — let’s say — patches or pins?
Darryl McIvor: I really wanted to create something based around travel and giving back. You know how you always see people with flag patches on their backpacks? I liked that idea — the concept of having a simple reminder of the places that you’ve been. But I didn’t really like the idea of patches. I always felt it was kind of loud, kind of in your face. I wanted something much more subtle, something much more personalized.
IT: Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind Traveller Collective?
DM: We launched in the summer of 2015. Really for me — and for the business in general — the ability for us to travel the world and do that type of thing is so far off from what so many people in the world have the ability to do. … So for us, it was kind of a reminder of that, and showing gratitude. It was never about counting countries or seeing how many different countries you could get to. It was more of a reminder to go out, travel and really aspire to do more.
IT: What sorts of nonprofits, charities and projects has Traveller Collective funded so far?
DM: Our First project was about clean water. … We partnered with a nonprofit in New York called charity: water. We did a project with them and raised $10,000 to build a well in Ethiopia.
There’s also a local nonprofit we’ve started working with called imagine1day. We raised $10,000 last year to build a school in Ethiopia. We also ran this big contest last October, where we had one of our customers and imagine1day come with us to Ethiopia. After being on the ground in Ethiopia and meeting the majority of the staff in imagine1day, I knew I wanted to work with them again. Just the things that they’re doing and the sustainability aspects that they’ve instilled in these projects is really important to us. We decided to do another project with them. We’re raising money for it now, and running another contest where we’re going to bring one of the customers in October  to visit the school and meet the community.
IT: People love collecting tokens from their travels. How does the Traveller Collective keychain add a special element to that concept?
DM: For me, it’s just the meaning behind it. Whether you get a small ring that’s engraved with a country, or if you get a small trinket, it means something to everyone in their own certain aspect. Some rings for some people might be six months in a certain place; for some people it might only be a weekend. But it’s so individual that everyone has their own story behind it. My Australia ring would mean something so different from someone else’s Australia ring, and the stories behind each of those represents an entirely different trip at a different time. For me, it’s having all of these altogether in one spot and being able to glance at it from time to time; to go back over some of the memories, and to really inspire people to go out and make more.
IT: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while traveling?
DM: The things I enjoy most about my personality I attribute to traveling: my patience, my understanding, my gratitude. I don’t think I would have learned those things in the capacity I know them now unless I was traveling. That’s one of the reasons we want people to get out there and travel more; it changes them. I think we’re all better off if we have more gratitude, understanding and appreciation for the way other people live.
IT: Is there one spacer you can associate with your favorite travel memory or destination?
DM: Anytime anyone asks me my favorite country, I always say — which might be a little cheesy — Canada. I love traveling, but I really enjoy coming back to Canada. Every time you come back from a new place it just provides different perspectives on what your home is and what your country is, and that’s really important to me.
IT: How many silver spacers do you have on your own keychain?
DM: I just went to Belgium for the first time at the end of January, and I believe that was my 32nd country.
Check out the Traveller Collective website for info on upcoming projects, contests and products.
See more travel interviews!
— interview conducted by Christina Janansky
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