What started as a duo’s journey for purposeful adventure quickly turned into a mission to educate and advocate for sustainable travel, Dimarco Barea and Scott Hanson shared.
“In 2020, Scott [Hanson] and I were both in this really interesting space where we were looking at how we wanted to contribute and dedicate our lives to something greater than us, while doing something that also simultaneously fulfilled us,” said Barea, the founder of MMM — a travel platform that promotes transformational travel.
The duo leveled up their passion for sustainable travel — creating the YouTube series “Joy of the Journey” to take viewers along on their trips.
Click here to watch “Joy of the Journey” on YouTube.
Hanson, who co-founded Kansas City-event staffing platform PopBookings, stepped down from his startup’s board to fully pursue “Joy of the Journey,” he said.
“ allowed me to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with my life, other than run a tech company,” Hanson said. “I figured what better way to live the most fulfilling life than to travel the world, bringing about a message of peace and creating something really beautiful doing it.”
A World Heritage Site is a place that has been designated by UNESCO for having significant cultural, historical, scientific or another form of value.
The video series, which is in partnership with MMM, launched with its pilot episode on an October 2020 trip to Colorado. At the time, they had no idea their travels would turn into a mission to visit all 1,121 United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites, they shared.
“The videos as you see them right now have been a minimum viable product, or MVP, as you would call them in the startup game,” Hanson explained. “We took the framework of building a company and applied it to creating a show.”
It was the pair’s trip to Mexico where they visited the town of Chichen-Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, when the idea clicked: be the first people to visit all 1,121.
“Yes we have a mission to get to the sites, but along the way — that’s where magic happens,” Barea added. “We’re learning as we go, googling history and talking to the locals. … Through these trips, we catch glimpses of not only the past through our present adventures, but we even see a little bit of where it’s all going. It’s incredible we can take that knowledge home with us and share it with people.”
The Mexico episode — where they also visited the Sian Ka’an Biosphere (another world heritage site) — is set to debut in April on YouTube.
Until then, Hanson and Barea are planning for other episodes — including a local adventure here in Kansas City.
“It’s going to be an epic re-enactment of Scott [Hanson] and I going down the Lewis and Clark expedition trail from St. Louis all the way through KCK-KCMO and showing how the past intersects with modern-day culture,” Barea stated.
They also plan to stop at the Cahokia Mounds, a world heritage site just outside of St. Louis.
“Kansas City is a really cool gateway and leaping off point for us; it is one of those cities that just keeps giving back to me,” Hanson said, noting that KC is designated as a UNESCO Creative City for its music culture.
No matter whether the journey is in their backyard, or across the pond, the two emphasized the importance of traveling with H.E.A.R.T. — an acronym created by the Transformational Travel Council meaning that travelers should practice humility, engagement, awareness, resilience and thankfulness. Through this mentality, the duo has been able to navigate how to travel during a pandemic, they noted.
“Awareness is about being mindful and conscious about what’s happening around you, so I think that really ties into the aspect of keeping safe during the pandemic,” Barea said. “… Safety extends beyond just wearing a mask or properly social distancing. It’s also about looking at the local social norms in each place we go and aligning with that.”
“One of the principles that I’ve followed for most of my life is this idea of leaving no trace,” Hanson added. “To me, that also extends to coming into different communities, cities and cultures knowing — we are guests here. That means experiencing the area in a way that is most authentic to the culture and way of life. It’s a lot of trying to be very humble and respectful.”
Both Hanson and Barea envision “Joy of the Journey” going far beyond a YouTube series. They are currently in the process of creating sizzle reels, also known as demo reels, to send to talent agencies in Los Angeles.
“This all started because of our friendship,” Barea noted. “We’re receiving so much support, and it feels like it’s getting so close to a tipping point where this could be something in the next six-to-18 months that everybody around the world knows about — the biggest thing since, you know, ‘Bridgerton’ on Netflix!”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.