The World Nomads Podcast: Stepping in for South America

In this episode, helping families in South America suffering amid a lack of tourism, and the ultimate destination for social distancing.


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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News

The World Nomads Travel Podcast has suspended its regular destination episodes, and in their place, sharing the thoughts of travelers who are shaping the future of the industry during COVID 19. We tap into their vast bank of knowledge to discover what can be learned from the past as we plan a new way of traveling moving forward.

What’s in the episode

00:53 Can Coronavirus travel through air vents?

01:52 Travel insurance and COVID-19

04:47 Chad Carey and Chimu Adventures

07:20 The last three months

10:35 Families suffering in South America

14:23 Border closures

17:28 Going back to normal

18:46 Next episode

Quotes from the episode

“It was almost month or so after this, all happened, we were very cognizant of what was going to happen, especially in some of the real tourist hotspots in South America. There was just going to be no income. They wouldn't have the support that more developed countries would have.” - Chad Carey Chimu Adventures

Chimu Adventures' James McAlloon is walking across Australia to raise money to help South American familiesAdd your support for Footsteps for Food.

Who is in the episode

Chad Carey is the co-founder of Chimu Adventures offering a wide range of tours, trips, and cruises to South and Central America plus Antarctica: Peru, Argentina, The Galapagos, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and more.

“I’ve always been more interested in adventurous destinations. South America and Antarctica both have that edge. The Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia are like nowhere else on earth. The Amazon jungle is another favorite. However, you can’t beat the true expedition feeling of a trip to Antarctica. When you’re there and you barely see another soul and you know you’re thousands of kilometers from any form of civilization – it was the first time I felt that I was on a proper adventure!

That’s the beauty of Chimu. We can personalize your itinerary for you so if you fancy an adventure in the Amazon jungle or Peruvian mountains, followed by a luxurious beach holiday in Brazil and an expedition to Antarctica, we can do this.”

Follow Chad on twitter #ChadCtravel

Currently, Chimu’s Relationship Manager James McAlloon is walking from Queensland to Western Australia to raise money to help South American families impacted by the lack of tourism dollars.

Check out this interview with James who is funding the effort with his own money.

Resources & links

Read more about Chimu’s MAD projects. “The ‘Make A Difference’ Project is a registered, not-for-profit organization and was set up with facilitation in mind, a place where those who want to help make a difference to challenged communities, the environment, and historical preservation can come and find reliable ways to contribute.”

Learning how to be better travelers doesn’t happen overnight. We asked our staff, scholarship mentors, filmmakers, and affiliate partners to share their biggest travel regrets and faux pas.

World Nomads has updated our Responsible Travel Manifesto. Do you agree with all of the points outlined?

Why Travel Will Bounce Back From COVID-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and World Nomads Travel Insurance Coverage.

Travel safety alerts.

You can get in touch with us by emailing

Help us spread the word

We’d love it if you could please share #TheWorldNomadsTravelPodcast with your twitter followers and join our Facebook group.

If you liked this episode please head to Apple Podcasts and kindly leave us a rating, review, and of course, subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Kim: In this episode, helping families in South America suffering amid a lack of tourism, and the ultimate destination for social distancing.

Insert Show intro

Kim: Hi Kim and Phil with you and a big thanks for tuning in from wherever you get your favorite pods, we will chat with Chad Carey shortly about the damage the lack of travel and tourism has had in South America…Phil, what are people wanting to know about travel as borders open up.

Phil: Some of the most googled questions surrounding COVID and travel are obviously around personal safety, things like can the virus travel through air vents in hotels?

A hard one for us to answer BUT American Dr. Dan Field who is Chief Medical Officer at MDStaffers, which is one of the fastest-growing healthcare staffing firms in the US has been quoted in a recent interview saying “ it is possible to become infected through a complex's ventilation system, but it is unlikely due to germ particles getting smaller and smaller as they travel through vents.”

So, there are lots of searches like that but the big one everyone wants to know is, does travel insurance cover coronavirus?

Look, there are lots of searches like that, but the big one everyone wants to know does travel insurance cover Coronavirus. Uh, here we go.

Kim: This is where you are an expert.

Phil: Okay, look, um, this is difficult to answer because what does it actually mean by does travel insurance cover Coronavirus, travel insurance covers, you know, medical costs, lots of belongings, and things like cancellation and delight. So even if you do have a policy from a provider that covers something to do with coronavirus, it probably is not going to cover everything. So, which is why it's really super important to read the wording, the policy wording for your particular provider, a bit of a tip for you here to control every defriend control, fine, um, put in a pandemic or something like that. And see what turns up in them, in the, um, benefits there. The other thing is to have looked for general exclusions. There will be a section in there about that. If it mentions the pandemic epidemic or outbreak of disease as a general exclusion, then it's very, probably not covered, but also go back and have a look at what's covered under the medical, because they may have made an exception to that.

There look, the thing is, this is a highly regulated industry and we'd most the good travel insurance providers don't want to be misleading people anyways. So go to their website and have a look on the front page of the website there, if they will make it abundantly clear so that there is no mistaking what your coverage is around Coronavirus, whether they do or they don't check all those sources first. And, you know, for example, um, the world Diamond's policy, and don't forget, we have six different underwriters around the world, but, the policies that World Nomads provide to us residents do have some coverage for medical costs. If you get sick overseas, but that's also very clearly marked on our website and it's in our policy wording. And if you're not sure whoever your provider is, give them a call and ask them exactly what is and is not covered. Well, 2020 is the year of reading the PDs. Okay. And it's also the year of listening to this...

Kim: We mentioned in this episode we were going to look at the impact the lack of tourism dollars in South America is having on families who rely on it for their livelihood Chimu Adventures has come up with a great idea which we will hear about shortly but Chad is going to tell us about the company first.

Chad Carey: What we focused on initially when we started with South America and more specifically Peru, we had this, this little idea, Greg and I, when we started that we were going to take our laptops, sit in Thailand on a beach and sell trips to Peru because we all thought we knew a little bit about it, but from there it went out to South America as a group for us. Then Antarctica, more than 50% of our revenue's Antarctica so we're really more an Antarctica brand that also sells South America.

Phil That's interesting. The growth and travel to Antarctica, you jumped on that. I take it it has been a growth area though.

Chad Carey: I think they've both been growth areas. I think what we did reasonably well for Antarctica, I think, is that before we came along for Antarctica, in Australia, there were a bunch of different tour operators that sold, say one ship or maybe two ships, and that was their product. What we did a little bit differently in that we came in and said, look, we're going to essentially be an aggregator for all Antarctica products. I don't want to say all, perhaps about 80% of the operators that we sell to go into Antarctica. For us, it was, it was more about us. The value add for us was providing advice, because there are a wide range of different ships to go to Antarctica and people spending a lot of money on it. It's really important. Even if you look on the web and try to research ships, it's so hard, there's so much information. It's just really for us trying to get the right ship for the right client. They spend their money well, and that model has worked really well.

Kim: It's the ultimate place for social distancing.

Chad Carey: Oh, it is. It is. That's right. At the moment we're actually just about to launch some product out of Australia for Australians in New Zealanders that hopefully is in that bubble to travel in the next few months and in the coming Southern hemisphere summer. That's it. Aside from getting on the ship, obviously there are still some concerns about getting everybody COVID free on the ship, but once you're on it and presumably do that screening well enough, you're completely fine.

Kim That's looking forward. We know the travel industry has been at a standstill. What's the price that your company is paid for that?

Chad Carey: It'd be wrong to say that it hasn't been tough, it has for everybody. What the last three months have been is no revenue whatsoever and refunds. Some refunds. Most of our clients have fortunately taken credits, which is a great help for us and many other travel businesses it's the same as well, but we're starting to see green shoots at the moment with people booking Antarctic trips in 18 months time. It's not completely dead.

Phil: What's the COVID landscape in South America? I know Brazil's not in a great position, but what's the rest of the continent?

Chad Carey: Look. To be fair, it's not amazing at the moment. I think it's really interesting to see the varying responses across South America. The whole world as well, Peru for example, they went into a very heavy lockdown, but they haven't managed to contain it. Really it's on a per capita basis. They're actually not that far off Brazil. Obviously Brazil's got lots of headlines and they've done very little to restrict it as the US have. I think, there are unfortunately quite a few poorer communities, [inaudible] in South America and in India and places like that, where you've got people crammed into a small area, there's no chance to social distance. It's prime for spreading the disease, unfortunately.

Kim: You are worried about those families in South America who rely solely on the tourism dollar. During this time you haven't just been sitting there waiting for the world to start reengaging. One of your team members is raising funds to help feed those Latin families and distribute the food. How are you doing that?

Chad Carey: It was almost month or so after this, all happened, we were very cognizant of what was going to happen, especially in some of the real tourist hotspots in South America. There was just going to be no income. They wouldn't have the support that more developed countries would have. We actually had a brainstorming session, everyone's [inaudible] team, and saying, what can we do? We didn't actually come with any great ideas as part of that, but then a week or so later, James who's one of our business development managers came to us and said, "Look, I've been wanting to do this walk across Australia for some time, but it's hard obviously to get the time off and to afford it and things like that." and he said, "Look, maybe I can do that now and at the same time, we can use it to generate interest and raise money for people in South America."

We straight away said, "That's an absolutely fantastic idea. When should we start?" and he did, he started on the 1st of July and we've already done one round of fundraising for it. We hope to do a second one shortly. That first-round raised about $20,000, which is fantastic. Where we're really going to direct that money towards is places like Cusco, anyone who's looked into traveling South America will know Cusco, and those sorts of places, it's really difficult because about 80% of the people in Cusco derive their income from travel. It's pretty easy when you've got places like Rio or Lima when you might have people working in the travel industry, but a lot of their families, for example, will have more diverse jobs. There'll be people that can support them. Whereas in Cusco, there are whole families that have all lost their jobs and there's no government support, or very limited government support. It is a little bit of a disaster for those people. That's what we're really focusing on.

Phil Cusco grew something like five times its original size over the last 20 years or something like that. We're driven by the tourism industry and tricking up to Machu Picchu. 80% that's devastating.

Chad Carey: Oh it is. I'm not sure about those numbers, but that sounds about right. From people who are employed in large hotels to just families operate smaller, treks through to BNB type operations. There are street market vendors and things like that as well, that all derive their income from it.

Phil All those-

Chad Carey: It's a pretty direct impact.

Phil: All those vans that you can hire to drive you around and everything. It's huge, isn't it?

Kim: Do they know what you're doing for them as part of Footsteps for Food?

Chad Carey: Oh, I don't know. We're not the only ones there are other people doing this and I think that a lot of NGOs trying to focus on places like this. No, it's not something that we've promoted out there within the community, but we're actually, just this week about to, now that we've raised our first lot of funds, we're about to start distributing it and it's going to be some food packs that we'll hand out to people. We're going through that process to make sure that's done well obviously, to make sure as much of that money gets to the people that need it as possible. Hopefully, the word will spread within Cusco and we'll be able to help as many people as possible

Phil: That's a big, logistical job. How are you doing that? Obviously people on the ground doing that for you.

Chad Carey: That's a great thing. We're very vertically integrated with our business, which seemed like a great idea until COVID hit. We've got our own operations over there in Peru, we've got two hotels in Peru as well, which we'd recently did, we did some repatriation flights right at the start of the COVID emergency. That was really important, having those businesses there as well because when we did those repatriation flights to get people out of Peru, we had to have masterpoints, because of roadblocks in between suburbs and things like this. All our operations team there able to get people essentially to the aircraft to get them out.

Phil That's mind-blowing when you think about having to organize all that.

Chad Carey: Our flight out of Peru, we went from when Peru locked down the entire country, we organized a flight to get Australians home within two weeks, which sounds like a long timeframe possibly, but when you think this isn't done out of a normal airport, the normal commercial airport, it was done at a military airport, you couldn't even get from suburb to suburb as I was saying before, because of the roadblocks, there were so many logistical challenges to overcome in two weeks. Then we had the fly by Chile to refuel and they were closing down as well, and Australia was closing the borders. It was all these things we had to jump through. I barely slept for those two weeks, it was difficult. A lot of our team members didn't either. That was a great thing, we had the resources there. Obviously we knew we need to help. Same with James at home, we've got the resources there and without tourists, there isn't a lot for them to do, so at least we can get them to focus on things like this to give them something to do.

Kim Well, you mentioned border closures and James, the three of us are here in Australia. For the international audience, we can bring you up to speed. Currently, there are several hotspots around Australia and that's affecting which states you can and cannot visit. How is James traveling with the idea of walking across the country?

Chad Carey: Oh, he's doing well. He's doing well. He's got some little shin splints at the moment, but he's resting that a little bit, I think yesterday and he's hoping to [inaudible] on today, but he says he's feeling reasonably good. It's obviously a long way. It's 4,000 kilometers that he's doing, to give you an idea of scale. It's more than three months of walking. He's pretty much self-isolated any way. He's just walking along the road on his own. I think hopefully we can justify that. He has got a contingency to possibly go up into the northern territory. It's a little bit of a challenge and a bit of a worry, but I'm sure we'll get through it.

Phil Wait a minute! I've been to the Northern, you start running out of roads to walk on trying to go there. Why?

Chad Carey: That's right. He's got to be careful because he's got this little pram that he pushes, which has all his water, and food, and his gear, and things like that. On the first day, he decided to take a bit of a dirt track, because it looked like a bit of a shortcut and one of the wheels fell off the pram. He knows how [inaudible 00:10:44]. His partner had to go and buy a new one for him. He's got to be careful, but he's a determined young man, and I'm sure he'll find a way.

Kim: Is this a pram that you would put a baby in?

Chad Carey: It is, yes. Correct. Yes.

Kim What a sight that would be!

Chad Carey: I know, I know it's a three-wheeler flat pram and it fits about 60 or 70 kilos worth of water and food and everything else in it, and here he is, this bloke pushing pram across Australia.

Kim A couple of final questions. How do people help, because by raising this money, we can help out our friends in South America?

Chad Carey: I go onto the Chamber Adventures website, which is and you'll see there on the front page, we mentioned our Footsteps for Food, which is what James is doing. You can read all about it there, make a donation, and things like that.

Kim: We talked about Antarctica as a growing place to visit and the ultimate social distancing spot. What's the future of travel according to you? What thinking have you been doing about how it will look post-pandemic?

Chad Carey: There are possibly two stages in this. I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball, but I know in Europe and North America, they're already starting international travel during the pandemic. I think in that short to medium term, international travel is going to be possibly less group travel or it's going to be focused on destinations where you think you can avoid the pandemic as much as possible. Smaller groups, rather than sharing say 20 or 30 people, or at least having some sort of isolation process before you go into those groups or some sort of screening process. I think in the longer term, I hope that things will more or less go back to normal. I think there's been a lot of concerns over people going on cruise ships, but from what I've seen, that the people who like those trips, especially the expedition cruising trips, which I think which is what we do, which is an adventure and it's quite different from a regular cruise ship.

Those people are quite passionate about it. I don't have any fears that we might be able to sell trips to Antarctica. Probably the biggest question, like everybody has at the moment, is when a vaccine is going to become available so that people can get back traveling internationally and fingers crossed that happens some point towards the end of this year and people can start rebooking again.

Kim: We will have a link to Footsteps for Food and Chimu Adventures in show notes plus in an upcoming episode we will learn about a literary project launched as a means for Peruvian guides to earn money using their storytelling skills during COVID.

Phil: To get in touch with us email and don’t forget to share and subscribe to the World Nomads Travel Podcast from wherever you get your favorite pods.

Kim: Next episode the international animal welfare organization committed to encouraging people to treat animals with respect, compassion, and understanding. We also discuss the dangers of wet markets.



1 Comment

  • Andrew Donoghue said

    I originally had planned a South America trip solo. But not sure I can plan it on my own in these times. I’m open to any kind of month long adventure trip.

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