Our latest member interview – Freepackers
Interview with Justine Trembicki – Founder and Director of Freepackers
Tell us your story. How did Freepackers get started
As I was travelling in India in 2009, I found a dog on the street, lost and scared, he was only a few days old. I found a local NGO who took care of the dog straight away, I was so happy! I thought “this is what I am going to do. Help people who want to help. And make them travel, learn and experience at the same time!”
What makes Freepackers stand out from your competitors?
Freepackers provides a very personalised service. We take time to understand each participant’s goals to make sure they get the best experience ever.
All team members have a strong travel experience and we know each organisation we work with personally. We only send people to the projects we support and believe in. We put a lot of commitment in to what we do.
What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
Every time our participants tell us that they have had a life changing experience!
We’re also proud to send hundreds of nurse students from the Red Cross to our medical projects, this is a big achievement for us!
What can we expect to see from Freepackers in the future?
We are currently recruiting team members to expand our partner network on the French speaking market, and soon on the Spanish speaking market.
Our vision is to become the leading and most trusted organisation in these markets to provide professional training and student internships in NGOs.
Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
Testimonials are definitely the best-selling tool. Stories from previous travellers are more valued than any advice from an industry expert! Testimonials combined with videos is the best way to catch people’s attention.
How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with Freepackers?
Before they travel, our students/participants must demonstrate fitness to travel, and they must declare any pre-existing long term or recent illnesses which could hinder their ability to participate in the project activities.
For each project we communicate detailed information about the country, what to pack, safety information, emergency contact and rules & regulations. This information is also detailed in a PDF document.
As an agent, we also ensure that our students stay in a facility that has 24-hour security.
What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
WYSE Travel Confederation is the best way to connect with businesses and people from the youth travel industry worldwide.
Have you attended a WYSE Travel Confederation event? (WYSTC, STAY WYSE, WYSE Exchange Australia, WETM-IAC) If so, what was your experience with the event?
Yes, WYSTC and WETM.
WYSTC is our one stop shop J : A perfect place to meet with our partner organisations, find out about global trends, identify new partners, and of course, socialize outside the formal meetings!
What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing currently?
In some countries like France, volunteering is a tricky topic. Medias are showing worst case scenarios and people are becoming reluctant to “pay to volunteer”. They see scams everywhere and they do not trust agents. They need to be educated about the value of the whole experience and the added value of an agent. While agents should be a guarantee of quality, there is a misconception of agents “making money on people’s good will to help” like It was something illegal.
We are already doing a lot to change people’s perception and built trust (publishing articles, putting together Guidelines with other industry partners, being transparent about costs, etc) but it takes time and efforts. It’s hard work for agents to gain credibility, while an NGO or a non-profit will be seen automatically as a trustworthy structure.
Freepackers provides flexible internship and volunteer placements abroad.
Whether for a gap year or short vacations, our programs are dedicated to students who are willing to make their international experience meaningful and rewarding. Our core programs combine cultural immersion and internship / volunteer placements abroad, for travellers to get a full experience of the host country and its culture. Participants get full ongoing assistance before and after their departure, and accommodation options are available in all programs. We can also provide adventure travels, language courses and homestay as add ons.
Membership: WYSE Travel Confederation Buyer Member
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