RAW’s founder Dave Reynolds has been a lifelong wanderer, always drawn to the wild and remote places of our planet. First leaving the shores of his native UK to live in the USA in 1988 he then spent many years working in diverse jobs from Alaska to Japan, Outback Australia, Hawaii and Hong Kong to name but a few. But travelling off the beaten track whenever and wherever possible usually led to a perpetually empty bank account!

Eventually, Dave’s constant wanderings prompted him to consider a career in adventure travel where he could be paid to put his extensive travel experience to good use. In the years that followed, he discovered a passion for leading people on treks and cycling trips all over the world. Along the way he met his wife Melinda through that shared passion for adventure, and the idea for RAW Travel was born.

Soon after settling in Australia in 2001, Dave launched ‘Intrepid Challenges’ (becoming RAW Travel), taking people on worldwide Charity Challenges; trekking, biking and organising volunteer projects with some of Australia and New Zealand’s best-known charities and companies.

Dave, founder early days of hiking

Walking the Tiger Leaping gorge, China in Stylish attire (1992)

What’s in a name?

Dave explains: ‘RAW Travel was an unusual name for a travel company when we launched it. In fact, some warned us against it. But we liked the bold sentiment it conveyed. We decided ‘RAW’ would be an acronym for ‘Real Adventures Worldwide’.

‘We wanted to show people amazing parts of the world on trips that would both thrill and physically challenge them. We felt the concept of RAW Travel encompassed the type of travel experiences we most enjoyed: authentic encounters with local people in off the beaten track places. The experiences money can’t buy, that become everyone’s favourite travel memories’.

‘We’ve always felt that active travel on foot or bike offers an advantage that can’t be matched by other forms of travelling. It’s not always easy or comfortable in some locations that’s for sure, but the rewards for the effort are a huge sense of achievement and real connection. It’s also the purest form of sustainable travel. ‘

‘It’s stayed an exciting journey for us as as more people have now embraced active travel for their holidays, more walks have opened up around the world and there are always new horizons to explore’.

Dave and Melinda Reynolds are still passionate travellers and trekkers – they even took their honeymoon trekking in Nepal. Nowadays they take their daughters on overseas treks and local hikes each year. They love meeting our customers on their walks, so you never know – you might just bump into them on your next trip!

locals laughing

Getting RAW with the locals in Ladakh (2005)

Travel that makes a difference

Our Charity Challenges program has raised awareness with participants about many important social issues – human trafficking, poverty alleviation, mine clearance, disability and homelessness, just to name a few.

Our staff and participants have been privileged to visit and support projects far and wide, including remote Aboriginal communities in Australia, homeless children in Ulan Bataar, and trafficking survivors in Cambodia.

Our long term partnerships with almost 50 well-known charities and corporates also helped us introduce countless new people to taking part in active adventures. We are proud that the challenges we ran from 2003 to 2017 raised over $18 million for many diverse charitable causes.

RAW Travel still aims to make a difference with responsible travel through our ‘10% for the Planet’ initiative and our B-Corp commitments (see ‘Planet’ for more details) to benefit local community and the environment. We stay committed to the practice of grassroots tourism always favouring small local suppliers and ensuring that the majority of our clients trip funds are spent in the local destination and economy they visit. 

Just some of the hundreds of charity challenges RAW travel has operated


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