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A Brief History of Transitions Abroad

Original & Authentic Travel Ideas, Resources, Articles and Programs Since 1977

Our Mission

Magazine cover for Asia. Magazine cover for travel in South America. Magazine cover for Latin America. Magazine cover travel in Europe. Magazine cover for yearly alternative travel.

"Travelers and tourists, the distinction is simple: Tourists are those who bring their homes with them wherever they go, and apply them to whatever they see. They are closed to experiences outside of the superficial. Travelers, however, leave home at home, bringing only themselves and a desire to learn."

Those words were written in 1977 by Gary Langer, a 21-year-old budget traveler, in the first issue of Transitions Abroad magazine. He presciently summed up how the magazine and travel itself would evolve in the next 47 years in a few lines. Transitions Abroad was a magazine created as the antidote to superficial forms of commercial mass tourism leading to the over-tourism local people are increasingly experiencing. The magazine and website's goal is to provide information that enables empathetic travelers to meet the people of other countries, learn about their culture, speak their language, and "transition" to a new level of understanding and appreciation for our fascinating world. The title is also meant to suggest the changes in our perspective that result from such cultural travel.

Yes, Transitions Abroad Learns as Well!

We grew to believe that an absolute tourist/traveler distinction is unnecessary. Or, as Dr. Clay Hubbs wrote after 30 years of editing and publishing Transitions Abroad:

"Since that time (1977) the traveler/tourist distinction has become something of a cliché, one that taken literally makes no sense. Outside our own country we are all seen as tourists; even we use the word tourist to describe the 'other guy.' What distinguishes one tourist from another is how we travel, not where or even why. What distinguishes Transitions Abroad readers from the other guy is a desire to learn from our hosts and openness to change."

Adventure, Enjoyment, Learning, Empathy, and Community is Our "Golden Rule" of Travel

Transitions Abroad was founded by Clay Hubbs. Ph.D., editor and publisher of the magazine and former literature professor and study abroad advisor at Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts. Clay was driven by endless curiosity, a love of life, a desire to share, a social conscience, and an emphasis on integrity. Hubbs was exceptionally knowledgeable about the many study abroad/educational travel options. He felt that all forms of long- and short-term travel, work, volunteering, and living abroad should be explored. Clay was knowledgeable about organized programs and individual custom paths selected by students and travelers of all ages, and actively encouraged creative new ways to explore.

Clay's many ideas about the future direction of travel, based on over 50 years of memorable, enjoyable, and risk-taking experiences of all kinds abroad, friendship with thought leaders in travel to study abroad, contact with thousands of travel writing contributors and editing of their works, a lifetime of reading (travel) literature, and many extended trips and residencies overseas, led to an emphasis on what he called the "golden rule" in travel, living, work, study, or volunteering abroad.

Travel About People, Learning, Ideas, Experiences and Perspectives — Not Categories

As a result of the visionary foundation Clay thoughtfully devised and actually lived since the 1960s, our wide-ranging editorial can be labeled as "educational travel," "responsible travel," "(slow) immersion travel," "cultural travel," "conscious travel," "experiential travel," "transformational travel" and many current terms that are variations on the same themes we have explored in depth since 1977. All involve a combination of travel advocacy and actions that seek to benefit locals in their home countries at least as much as the visitor. In fact, Clay has been credited as the first to develop and promote the notion of responsible travel in a national publication.

We see responsibility in relativistic terms and not as absolute purists, as we know of no human cultures historically have lived and acted as some incarnation of perfection. We seek to advocate and do the best we can, implicitly and explicitly, towards a more enlightened and pleasurable mode of travel for a better world.

Publications and Free Travel Information

Now into its well into its fourth decade, Transitions Abroad Publishing has created not only the influential magazine, but also a selection of other essential resources for the person who wants to travel, really travel, without being a participant in mass tourism. Transitions Abroad Publishing has also created critically acclaimed books on Work Abroad and Alternative Travel. is in the process of being redesigned by his son Gregory Hubbs to reflect the depth and quality of the best articles, program listings, resources, and links gathered and updated over the past 45+ years and moving into the future, even as we will extend the scope exponentially with future versions which will include the latest technologies to develop our international community.

We are committed to expanding upon our alternative publications and editorial — a prototype for those who have followed and imitated us — while remaining a useful and meaningful web guide for travel, work, living, study, interning, and volunteering abroad, grateful for your unique ideas and stories, as always.

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