The Responsible Traveler

Masai Village

2009, ready to embark on my first solo trip half way around the world. I’m volunteering with CCS, and compulsively perusing the message boards on the online forum. Mostly, they’re for future volunteers to ask questions or connect with fellow travelers. One post in particular though, catches me off guard. A previous volunteer shared her concerns that volunteerism, far from being a benefit to the countries we were visiting she suggested, it was actually a great cause of harm. Of course, at the time it bothered me, but I didn’t think too much about it. I had chosen CCS because they had great connections with the community that supported sustainable projects. Continue reading

Redefining the Bubble.

Vintage Palouse

Growing up in rural Eastern Washington State my best friend Cyndi and I often dreamed of more exotic lands. In high school we launched a full-scale plan to leave our sleepy town and move, together, to London. Feeling a bit stifled by the simplicity of small town Americana we, like many teenagers, were anxious to explore the greater world around us. Continue reading

Opting Out.

You know the feeling. Your muscle tense, heart-rate quickens, and you’re fueled with an intense feeling of overwhelming joy. That feeling of excitement, of knowing that the path you’re about to embark on is exactly what you’re “supposed” to be doing. I don’t really believe in a cosmic force (or any intervening force for that matter). But I do believe our subconscious reveals what we truly want, and guides little decisions that ultimately shape our lives: some people are just better at listening than others. I get that way about travel. And no, not just because it’s “fun.” But because the process of uprooting and integrating myself into a complete unknown is the ultimate thrill. Every time I leave, I learn. And I’ve become addicted to the lessons I’ve learned on the road. I truly believe I’ve learned more about the world and myself in the past few years than I ever did in the 22 years prior, college included. As I travel, the world becomes smaller, those strange foreign lands aren’t so foreign anymore; people of Tanzania aren’t really all that different from Peruvians, or even, Americans.  I am constantly touched by the giving nature of so many, particularly those who have little to give, and I’m compelled to find away to pay back this world that has taught, and given me so much. Travel fills me with an all-encompassing joy that little else can rival.  Continue reading

Off the Strip.

The Strip

Despite living in Los Angeles, on and off, for the past two years, I have never actually been to Vegas. I’m not sure why, really, the amount of fantastic outdoors adventures in the area is significant. It’s probably because the city itself doesn’t hold much appeal for me. Yes, there’s great food, but there’s just as good-if not better in LA/NYC/SF, but other than that-it’s not for me. And so, at 24 (for two more weeks!) I headed to Las Vegas, for the first time.

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