An interview with Adam Kunes of travel company Have Fun, Do Good
Interview by Jeremy Lux, article written by Eric Z. Gasa
The name of Adam Kunes’ travel company is straightforward and to the point; Have Fun, Do Good. It’s no surprise but that is exactly what you do on one of Kunes’ globetrotting trips. A man dedicated to building bridges and volunteering, Kunes wants to give back to the same communities he loves so dearly. It’s called volunteerism, a mix of community work, memory-making, and adventure that is changing the face of tourism.
On the latest episode of the Life in Motion podcast, Jeremy Lux got the chance to sit down with Kunes to discuss his company, volunteering, and how travel can expand your horizons.
“Growing up I was always into adventure,” Kunes says, “Just being in motion at all times was a goal of mine from a young age and I’ve just tried to carry that into my later years.”
From Yosemite to Costa Rica, Kunes’ adventurous momentum is still whisking him off to far off and exotic places. Have Fun, Do Good allows Kunes to make a living while he shows others the joys of travel.
But what really first got Kunes into travel was a 100-day cruise he took on his study abroad program. He says the experience was simply amazing. Visiting 14 different countries and circling the globe, instilled this “bug of travel, a desire to give back and do something unique,” he describes.
“You come back from something like that, and you're just like, ‘Holy cow, this is incredible, you can do this.’ It is amazing to have this opportunity to see so much and have such an impactful life experience,” he continues.
But Kunes would be lying if he said travel was all about palm trees and beautiful sights. He says that seeing the world has also made him very grateful for the life he has in the United States.
A fateful trip to India certainly opened up his eyes to the reality of global inequality. He recalls a tour to one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages that he said was eye-opening. The level of poverty was something he had never seen before.
“I remember sitting on this dirty floor and playing with this one child who didn’t have any arms or legs. I still vividly remember it. It was an incredibly heavy moment, but this boy was as happy as can be with a smile on his face,” he says.
Kunes admits the he was so overwhelmed by emotion that he had to walk out of the room to compose himself.
“We’re so lucky, so blessed, and we have no idea,” he says.
It was a sight that Kunes experienced all too often; exotic sights and sounds, followed by adjunct poverty and misfortune. In South Africa, Kunes enjoyed the thrill of feeding great white sharks but was instantly shocked by the villages in Cape Town that still bore the scars of apartheid.
After returning home, Kunes volunteered in post-Katrina New Orleans where he worked for five days straight with some of his best friends. Exhausted and reflective, Kunes realized those five days in New Orleans was just as impactful than any trip he had taken around the globe.
Kunes left New Orleans feeling extremely discontent, guilty even, that he hadn’t done enough. It was at this moment that he realized the core concept of his future travel company. Giving back had made him rethink his concept of “fun.” Joy and adventure was so much deeper than just cruises and shark cages; the key to fun was to simply do good.
Kunes returned from his travels, graduated, tried his hand at the corporate grind and like so many before him, felt utterly disenchanted by it. Spurred once again by the travel bug, Kunes invited his roommate Andrew on an impromptu RV trip to do volunteer work across the country.
“Looking back 10 years later, I’d say that was really the start of Have Fun, Do Good,” he says.
Kunes quit his job and hit the road. The two filmed an amateur documentary as they went and started a nonprofit that sent college students on volunteer trips. Their success got the attention of some big companies, but after four years on the road the project fizzled out.
But the experience showed Kunes the ropes on how to manage an organization, employ people, and ultimately laid the groundwork for Have Fun, Do Good. Today, Kunes and his company set up both international and continental trips for volunteers. Destinations include the sunny shores of Costa Rica, places closer to home like Pittsburgh and New York City, to more adventurous treks out to Zion Lake and Antelope Canyon.
No matter the locale, Have Fun, Do Good guarantees an eye-opening trip that has an emphasis on both service and adventure.
Kunes sums it up best himself when he says it’s an open experience for people to have fun and just learn.
“We don’t force anything; we’re just ourselves and we like to have fun,” he says, “I think people feed off that energy and a lot of that comes from just groups of strangers from different walks of life coming together and having conversations.”
Kunes also notes how in this day and age, from social media to quarantine, people have forgotten how to step back, unplug, and just enjoy the view and spectacle of life. It’s a lesson that he hopes to instill in others.
For those who want to break from the mold and just travel, he offers some simple advice and suggestions; no plane tickets, no extravagant getaways, just a good old fashion road trip.
“Just go somewhere! Get in the car and do something different, take a week from work. You don’t have to quit your job like I did but just take to the road,” he says.
“There is something powerful with leaving your comfort zone. Whether it’s just you or some friends, sometimes you just got to leave all the distractions behind and focus on the road ahead.”
To learn more about Have Fun, Do Good check out their website, Facebook and Instagram, as well as Adam and Ben’s podcast which you can find on Spotify and iTunes. As for more travel stories and some of Adam’s insight in travel in a post-Covid world, listen to Adam’s full interview on the Life in Motion podcast available on Apple Podcast and Spotify.