A lot of my more recent trips, Colombia and Wyoming in particular, have made me more and more interested in orienting my future trips around conservation and community development.
In Colombia, it felt especially good to know that my visit could be a source of encouragement and help to some of the locals I met. Our guide Carlos kept telling us about how much potential he could see from ecotourism, from nature walks to hacienda hotels to coffee shops.
I don’t know exactly when we’ll take our first trip as a family of three, but I want to do something that’s an overall win for the people who live there and their land. Maybe that looks like connecting with a local conservation group. Maybe that means staying at a farm stay.
You kinda have to do your homework with ecotourism because not everything that wears that label is what it seems. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a note saved on my phone with a few dozen ideas of places to research further.
Of course there will still be cities that lure me in with their vibrant cultures and cuisine- Lookin’ at you, NOLA. And there are manmade structures like St. Peter’s Basilica that are completely breathtaking.
But the more places I go, the less interested I am in just landmarks and the status symbol of checking off another place. I want conversations with locals. I want a sense of their concerns and hopes. I want to find a bug or bird that I can’t see back home in California. Far and away, the thing that I get most out of visiting new places is a deeper sense of connection to people and the planet.