Hal and Norma Taussig founded Untours in 1975 to offer travelers a deeper way of experiencing Europe.
As a college professor, Hal and his family took a sabbatical trip to Europe and stayed in apartments in Switzerland, Germany, and France. This not only saved him money but connected him to the communities and cultures he visited in a more personal way, sparking friendships and understanding. He wrote about his experiences in Shoestring Sabbatical. This book and his enthusiasm for cross-cultural travel led him to create Untours.
Untours started in Switzerland, and has expanded over the decades. There are now Untour programs in 26 different destinations. In each program, guests settle into their community with the aid of a friendly local host, who helps them manage logistics and practical details. Planning, transportation, transfers, and other helpful extras are all included.
Untours also offers hand-selected small boat cruises and adventures on its Ventures website. Untours continues to add destinations while staying true to Hal's vision, offering meaningful travel and fostering a sense of community and connection among Untours guests, staff, and local hosts.
Hal was an unusual entrepreneur. He and Norma gave nearly all of Untours' profits to the Untours Foundation they created. In 1999 Paul Newman and John F. Kennedy Jr. awarded Untours "The Most Generous Company in America." Untours' generosity helped inspire the Benefit Corporation (B Corp) movement. In 2010 B Corp introduced the annual Hal Taussig Award, which it gives to business people who exemplify Hal's values.
Brian Taussig-Lux has managed Untours since 1996 and Elizabeth Killough runs the Untours Foundation. Both worked closely with Hal and continue to connect with his vision. As Hal planned, ownership of Untours passed to the Untours Foundation. Hal's passion continues to inspire Untours staff and community, and the wider worlds of business, travel, and fair trade.
The Untours staff is passionate about international travel. Most have worked for the company for 15+ years, and they bring a rich diversity of languages, cultures, and skills to their work. Staffers love the countries and cultures of the Untours they coordinate, and their knowledge is informed by years of personal and professional travel. US staff members regularly visit Untours programs and apartments to make upgrades and ensure everything is running smoothly on location. They share their knowledge and experience with clients and offer superior pre-trip planning support, just as their colleagues on site see to all aspects of local hospitality.
Untours is working to make business better. The company strives to pay good salaries and generous benefits to staff. In addition, Untours works to minimize its environmental impact, from composting lunch scraps and using only recycled paper to incentivizing carpooling and other commuting alternatives. Untours uses only renewable energy to run its US office. The company has installed an 18.8 kW solar installation on its roof, generating as much power as one US household would use. Untours works to offer the most meaningful travel opportunities while operating as a model of sustainability.
We're proud to be the first Certified B Corporation.
Read our 2021 PA Benefit Corporation Report.
When you support a Certified B Corporation, you're supporting a better way to do business. Certified B Corporations meet rigorous, independent standards of social and environmental performance. They are creating greater economic opportunity, strengthening local communities, and preserving the environment.
B Corps. A better way to do business. Find out for yourself at www.bcorporation.net/untours.
Our Mission: Untours' purpose is to foster a healthy and healing society that unites people of different cultures and economic statuses. We feel it is imperative to reconnect people to each other and to the earth. We hope that we, as a company, can be the change we wish to see in the world.
We're sometimes called Idyll, LTD., which is what we called ourselves before we went with Untours. In fact, Idyll, LTD., is where our email listserv's name, IdyllChat, comes from!
MEET OUR STAFFBrian Taussig-Lux
It's not just the travel, but the love and respect I have for Hal's legacy and his values that keeps me at Untours. Working at Untours has given me an opportunity to continue his mission and create a company that makes a positive difference in the world.