I’ve joked that my two most cherished belongings are my passport and my insulin. If you know me, you’ve likely heard about my travels. If you don’t, hey there, I’m Savannah, and I’m so glad you’re here. I’d like to tell you a bit about myself, the extraordinary role travel has played in my life, and the company I’m building to impact kids and young adults with diabetes through travel.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 2, and, though I had attempted to travel prior, I didn’t start traveling until I was 19. As a high school student, I applied to a handful of summer programs boasting rugged outdoor adventures and road less traveled itineraries. I wanted to see the world, know the world, and understand my place in it. I didn’t see diabetes holding me back from doing so, but the student travel companies did, and they cited diabetes as the reason I couldn’t enroll.
Things finaly changed in 2013 when a collegiate travel program said “yes” to me. Though I didn’t know at the time what a gift that “yes” would be, I left the U.S. to backpack Southeast Asia on a one-way ticket to a new me.
Traveling transformed my interests, passions, hobbies, and senses of adventure and global, social, political, and environmental responsibility. Traveling opened academic, career, language, social, and spiritual doors. Because of my early experiences abroad, I studied sociology and global education and built careers in international education, storytelling, and global impact investing.
I went on to: study abroad in Chile and Argentina, travel all over South and Central America, work in Costa Rica and Peru and South Africa, make a film in Liberia and another in the West Bank, live and teach in Jordan, teach for a wilderness boarding school in the Rocky Mountains and a traveling school in southern Africa, and direct programs for the Smithsonian Institute’s student travel arm in Thailand. I: trekked to the highest navigable pass in the world in Nepal, white-water rafted down the Zambezi River in Zambia, rock climbed and caved in Thailand, abseiled in South Africa, and defied the limitations doctors had set for me by completing my Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diving Certification in the Philippines. To date, I’ve studied, worked, lived, and traveled to 42 countries. All because, during my first travel experience, I learned that I could.
Type 1 Way Ticket Travel (T1WT)
Most kids and teens with diabetes do not have access to experiences like I’ve had. If they do, caregivers are often fearful of letting them participate. Most diabetics also do not have a community of other diabetics like I was blessed to have from growing up attending diabetes summer camp–the community that I have leaned on for the critical type of support only people who fully understand can offer. Especially considering young people with diabetes are 3x more likely to struggle with depression and anxiety than their non-diabetic peers, opportunity, access, and community are essential to diabetes health and wellbeing.
Type 1 Way Ticket (T1WT) is the first and only travel company offering international adventure programs that empower insulin-dependent teens with the skills, community, and confidence to live limitlessly. With diabetes management and education factored into each day, T1WT provides a supportive environment for youth to explore the world and its wonder while learning how to manage diabetes in a variety of settings (rock climbing, trying new foods, SCUBA diving, trekking, heat, extreme cold, high altitude, no electricity, in rural areas, etc.). Surrounded by trip leaders and new friends with diabetes, T1WT travelers build relationships with people who support them through the highs and lows, and caregivers at home can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing their child is well taken care of.
My idea for Type 1 Way Ticket was initially born in 2016 out of a conversation with a colleague who thought she and her boyfriend couldn’t travel at all due to a presumed lack of diabetes-friendly food options abroad. A few years later, in 2019, I was compelled to create an eponymous diabetes travel-focused Instagram account after meeting a mom and her middle school daughter who had never had a sleepover due to concerns about managing diabetes away from home. In both of these moments, I felt an urgency to showcase the boundless possibilities of life with diabetes. And the need for T1WT became immediately clear through messages from followers like:
“I'm the mom of a 13-year-old Type 1 diabetic, and we traveled extensively before diagnosis. So excited to learn it is still a possibility for our/his future. Thank you so much!”
“I just want to say thank you for starting Type 1 Way Ticket. You've given SO many helpful tips, and it is so encouraging for me to see an example of someone living with Type 1, doing things I dream of doing, and not letting it stop you.”
My initial urgency to showcase soon morphed into an even greater urgency to create opportunities for people with diabetes to know firsthand how unstoppable they are. And I’ve spent the whole of 2022 beginning to bring Type 1 Way Ticket Travel to life.
What Your Donation Supports
I need your help to make Type 1 Way Ticket Travel possible.
As you can imagine, the upfront costs of starting a company that brings minors with diabetes abroad on adventure travel programs are high. I’ve even had prospective business and travel insurance agencies suggest I work with a “less medically complicated” (their words–*cringe*) population to cut costs. But kids with diabetes deserve to discover the magic of the world and their ability to access it. And kids with diabetes deserve an environment that will support and uplift them as they develop lifelong independence and health management skills.
One of the most important things to me in launching Type 1 Way Ticket is to ensure our programs are financially accessible. Most youth travel companies either don’t offer financial aid at all or run programs for years or decades before offering financial aid, but my intention is for Type 1 Way Ticket to be exceptional. Type 1 diabetes is the most expensive chronic illness in the U.S. With insulin being the sixth most expensive liquid in the world, and many critical medical technologies not covered by insurance providers, Type 1 diabetes healthcare imposes a significant financial burden upon families. As such, it is critical for me to be able to offer financial aid to aspiring travelers from the get-go. And I need your help to make this dream a reality.
Your contribution to my GoFundMe will empower:
✓ Legal and insurance fees associated with taking diabetic youth on international adventure travel programs
✓ Need-based financial aid for deserving families
✓ Subsidized program tuition to keep costs to families as low as possible
✓ Hiring an SEO specialist to reach more families around the world
✓ Continued development of Type 1 Way Ticket and programs
✓ Critical medical supply donations to diabetes healthcare centers in program countries
International development and experiential education have been my utmost sources of fulfillment throughout each chapter of my career. I’ve had the honor of spending 272 days “in the field” with middle and high school-aged students, guiding them as they learn about different places, peoples, and customs, and learn about themselves, and I can't wait to get back to the field with a population of young people so near and dear to my heart.
As a Type 1 diabetic for 26 years, holder of a Master's degree in Education Entrepreneurship, and former international educator, diabetes camp counselor, gap year program facilitator, and high school teacher, I am uniquely equipped to design transformative programs and curricula for young people with diabetes. I believe I was put on this earth to open doors for others, and I want to swing doors wide open for kids who’ve likely had them shut in their faces before T1WT.
Type 1 Way Ticket is my biggest adventure yet, and I know it will profoundly impact the growth, self-discovery, confidence, and leadership of diabetic kids, teens, and young adults. T1WT offers the opportunity to go boldly abroad with diabetes, so that diabetic youth can know that they can truly do anything, anywhere.
I am who I am because a travel company said yes to me, igniting a domino effect of turning devastating no’s into transformative yes’s. And I do what I do to say yes to kids discovering the boundless possibilities of life with diabetes.
I hope you will say yes too and help transform the lives of kids with diabetes through your donation.
From the bottom of my heart, down to my pancreas and toes, thank you,
More Ways to Help
Any size donation helps Type 1 Way Ticket Travel come to life. I did the math: if each one of my Facebook friends contributed $50, I would hit my goal! If you're able, I would so appreciate you donating. I would also greatly appreciate your help telling your networks about T1WT and this GoFundMe–everyone knows someone with diabetes!
To make it as easy as possible to spread the word, I put together a “social media share kit” with the video in both portrait and landscape formats, photos, and copy/pastable text. Remember to tag @type1wayticket on all socials and use the hashtag #T1WT.
Thank you so much for being on this journey with me :)