The Importance of Kindness During Travel

Getting ready for travel requires careful packing and making numerous checklists. Any experienced traveler will tell you what you shouldn’t forget: passport, tickets, money, snacks, first aid kit, and a camera. All of these items and more are incredibly important and should not be forgotten, but there’s always one thing we forget to bring with us: kindness. I’d like to think that travel can make us more tolerant and willing to assist others, but as posts from Adventurous Kate and Expat Edna will tell you, people are still close-minded and judgmental. I find this is true not only of travelers, but locals as well. Is there a way to make the world kinder? On Random Acts of Kindness Day, here are a few situations that have inspired me to think differently about how I travel and live: Continue Reading ›

Our Incredible Planet

“The earth is what we all have in common.”
-Wendell Berry

I’ve traveled many places and seen many cultures around the world, and the one thing that always inspires and at times perplexes me is how we are all connected by the earth we live on.  Growing up in the southwestern United States, I was used to open spaces with a unique mix of orange desert sand and hillsides of mountains covered with pine trees.  I was always eager to venture to the city and feel its bustling energy and variety of culture and people.  Eventually, I was able to experience what I wanted by traveling to cities like London, Shanghai, Milan, and Paris.  Although I still love visiting a city, I began to wish for a moment in the wide open spaces I had grown up in.  Encompassed by the clouds of pollution while visiting China and recalling the skyscrapers and flashing billboards of Times Square in New York City, I often wondered if the planet would soon become one giant city of smog with advertisements of franchises and corporations.  Cities can give us great opportunity, but I find my creativity and inspiration can flourish just as much in the natural beauty of the outdoors.  If you don’t understand what I mean, take a look at these photos from my travels around the world to inspire you to enjoy and preserve nature for future generations: Continue Reading ›

Not All Who Wander

Gina’s elaborate checklist for Cuenca is slowly getting checked off as our weekend comes to a close, and Gina, Andrea, and I have saved Cajas National Park for last.  After we have filled ourselves delicious meals, see the cityscape from afar, and delight in Cuenca’s unique streets of  sweets, markets, and street art, we anxiously plan our hike through Cajas National Park.  Having done extensive research, Gina is already aware of the best trails to fit our physical fitness and need for photo opportunities.  We’re no longer a trio when our La Cigale roommate, Tim, from Kent, United Kingdom, is no longer a shadow in the room and a companion on our journey.  Backpacks and cameras ready, we arrive to fog and a chilling wind that howls in the Visitor’s Center.  Immediately I wish had thought to wear my purple Hello Kitty pajama pants under my jeans and bought an alpaca sweater Gina and Andrea were intent on finding in the market.  But it’s too late to change course now.  I must brave the cold and adopt J.R.R. Tolkien’s words of advice, “Courage is found in unlikely places.” Continue Reading ›

Cuenca: The Hidden Gem

With the big launch of Run by Rural‘s newsletter, website, and campaign completed, my colleagues, Gina and Andrea are packed and prepared to head along the coast and past the border to Ecuador.  Gina heard from a reliable source that Cuenca, Ecuador should be on the top of her list if she plans to journey beyond Peru to its northern neighbor.  Both Gina and Andrea are eager to head out of the desert, but I was hesitant, feeling the crunch of production and wanting to stay behind to accomplish more before my exit date.  Gina’s motivation and passion for adventure, however, doesn’t give me a chance to second-guess this opportunity.   “Are you ready to go?  Did you want to go to Carbon Burger before we leave?” Gina asks as she peeks her head out of the door that leads to our rooftop.  My desire and instincts to travel kick in and my dragging feet quickly spring my legs into action as I shuffle through our bedroom, hurrying to pick up the piles of clothes, camera bag, and shoes sprawled on my bed.  Shoving items into my bag, I anxiously pack with a “Take no prisoners” attitude.  It’s time to stop dwelling and add another stamp to the passport. Continue Reading ›