Untours was founded in 1975 by Hal Taussig and his wife Norma as a way to introduce travelers to a deeper way of experiencing Europe than the standard superficial bus tour. After a brief career as a college professor, Hal wrote a book called Shoestring Sabbatical in which he described ways that teachers and professors could live for an extended time in Europe without spending a fortune. This book and his European travel experience led him to create Untours (formerly called Idyll, Ltd.).
Norma and Hal Taussig
At the time, Switzerland was the only destination Untours offered, but Hal attracted a devoted group of travelers fervently convinced that the Untours way was the best way to see Europe. These "Untourists" weren't content to see only Switzerland and demanded that the company expand to new destinations, which it has done in the intervening years. As far as we know, Untours was the first US company to promote the concept of staying in private, furnished vacation rental apartments.
Our 18.8 kW solar installation
Hal is an unusual entrepreneur in many ways. In addition to his dedication to connecting people from different cultures in meaningful ways, he has never wanted to become wealthy. In fact, he gives away nearly all of Untours' profits to the foundation he created, the Untours Foundation. For this policy Untours was named "The Most Generous Business in the U.S." by George Magazine and Newman's Own in 1999. Over a decade later, we still strive to embody the virtues that earned us this recognition. In 2010 B Lab presented Hal with the first anual Hal Taussig Award. This award will be given out each year to business people in the B community who exemplify Hal's values. Hal now devotes most of his time to the Untours Foundation. His nephew, Brian Taussig-Lux, has been managing Untours since 1996.
Hal accepting B Lab's first annual Hal Taussig Award
The staff at Untours are passionate about travel! They travel regularly, visiting the Untours programs and properties so that we can make sure everything in the program is working well. The company strives to pay above-average salaries and provide a challenging and positive work environment for its employees. In addition to its commitment to its employees, Untours attempts to minimize its environmental impact in every way possible. For example, the company uses only renewable energy to run its office in Media, Pennsylvania. The company recently installed an 18.8 kW solar installation on its roof, generating as much power as one US household would use. This is just the next step in its quest to provide high-quality experiential travel while operating in a sustainable manner.
Untours Staff, Winter 2010
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MEET OUR STAFFHal Taussig
Founder and President
I hesitated to take an Untour this year, knowing I couldn't manage some of my favorite hiking trails anymore. But with a slight push out the door, I headed to Switzerland, had a ball, and learned to appreciate Switzerland on shorter paths and through restaurant windows with a friend and a cappuccino.