After living and working all over Latin America as a guide, Britten decided to continue doing what he loved, but on his own terms. The result is Revolución, an inspired bike travel business that takes people on incredible cycling adventures in Latin America. A graduate of the University of Washington Business School, Britten has been able to combine his background with his love affair for Latin American and traveling by bike.
How do the experiences you offer give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of Latin America?
There’s something totally unique about experiencing a country by bike, but especially in Latin America. You become so much more intimately involved with your surrounding as opposed to just passing through, which is why I love it so much. I tell people all the time that on a bike, you become an active character in the plot as opposed to a viewer. By slowing down just a bit, and traveling on ground level, you feel what local life is actually like.
How have the rides that you offer evolved since you began Revolución?
To be honest, the way I design trips hasn’t changed too much, nor has our philosophy. We really are obsessed with crafting really cool, dynamic experiences but I will say that my original idea of offering slightly longer trips has shifted slightly. We now offer more week-long adventures as a way of making them more accessible to people with less travel time.
What is one detail of your rides that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
A big difference between us and some of the bigger tour companies I’ve worked for in the past is that we sincerely have a passion for our own trips. It seems counter-intuitive, but we try to design itineraries for ourselves just as much as for guests. Time and time again I’m reminded that when the local team has an intimate connection to the places and people we visit, so will our clients. The ripple effects of that shift have been very positive and clients definitely comment on how fun it is to travel with guides who are just as excited as they are.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider joining you on a ride in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Cuba, or Columbia?
I wish they knew that when we create our rides, we literally load up our bikes and go on our own epic, self-supported adventures, which inspire the ones we share with others who are intrigued by the idea of using the bicycle as a tool for traveling, for exploring. In other words, when we’re greeted by that wonderful Latin American hospitality on our own scouting trips, we know it’s worth bringing groups back.
What is one unexpected piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize their enjoyment of the experiences you offer?
A couple things, which we actually provide as a welcome gift packet: chamois butter (basically lubricant for bike shorts) and wet wipes. It’s also really fun when people bring photos of their own families, where they live, etc. Local hosts get such a kick out of seeing a piece of the outside world and it immediately breaks down cultural barriers when you can say, “Hey look, these are my kids! And this is my home!”
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
I love that human-powered travel is becoming more mainstream. People are earning their vacations, in a sense. I think that helps a ton to amplify their connection to a place, to its people, its food, etc.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Often times being outside your comfort zone leads to the most incredible/memorable/inspiring travel experiences. Embrace the discomfort.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
Really nurturing my relationship with my personal and professional network. As a small, but dedicated team, we know that our programming is great. So being able to convey that to people I already know to build a brand and grow a community has been huge.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
I remember when I realized that if this whole thing was going to work, if Revolución was going to have a chance, I needed to be fully committed to it. No more working other side jobs to stay afloat. No more “one foot in, one foot out.” Once that happened, I was able to raise a little bit of startup capital which has made an enormous difference.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
In Nicaragua, we started a community project called the Build Program as a way of mobilizing local NGO partners. At the end of the trip, we had a really fun get together with the riders, the organization’s leadership, and the people who received a bike as a part of the program. When Maria shared her story about how critical a bike is to taking her kids to school, for work, etc. one of my guests was moved to tears. It was a really touching experience I’ll never forget.