What I Wish You Knew

colorado, musings, Travel

It’s easy in 2018 to find information on every part of the world….except when it is not.

While there are probably millions of pieces on Paris and London, there are only a handful of helpful writings on parts of American Samoa, or rural areas of Vietnam. While more people explore the world, this gap tightens, but there is always a need for better information, not more.

“Being first is irrelevant when the story is just wrong.”

While it’s great to have endless options for readings, articles, videos, and blogs, there is often a disconnect on the quality of works. Or much of the information is just outdated, poorly written, ethnocentric, exaggerated…. you get the idea.

Recently I saw a pretty popular Facebook page attached to a page through a pretty popular media company. In the video it stated that a VERY popular Colorado tourist site was only 1,000 feet above sea level. To put this into perspective, the capitol of Denver is at 5,280 feet above sea level, and this site was around 7,000 feet above sea level. The mistake was glaring and extremely unhelpful to visitors that may not know what to do with elevation gains, altitude sickness, and other problems that come with mountains.

It is mistakes like the video that create a cycle of bad information and problems for travelers, researchers, and those working in the tourism industry.

Time and time again I return to travel guides as a resource because they have many things going for them, and most importantly, they are updated and more accurate than other resources.

No doubt many bloggers and news sources try to update their work as much as possible, but travel guides have the set up to ensure their accuracy and consistency. Guides also work with companies to present information, update locations, and create a standard of information that other media sources cannot keep up with.

When I get out in the world, or run into an issue on research for work, I find that I am constantly returning to a book on the place or finding a blog that is specifically written on a set region.

What I wish all travelers knew is that it’s important to be accurate, and it’s important to provide good content. Being first is irrelevant when the story is just wrong.

Maybe the journalist in me is fighting an over-saturated market of bad blogs, but I wish I could tell people every day to buy a book, read some more, ask questions of locals. Don’t expect someone that has barely or NEVER been to Paris to give you a rating on the best restaurants. They’ll go to Yelp just like you and regurgitate 30 reviews. The authenticity is simply lost.


Your Privilege is Showing

musings, Travel

I find my work in the travel industry a blend of delight and shock on a regular basis. I love assisting others with their travel plans, the tedious nature of piecing together itineraries and activities is an exciting journey for me. In ways it is a vicarious experience, and also a chance to share my own journeys and ideas on where guests are traveling.

The downside is catching the negativity that often comes with travel. In fact, my own mouth has been caught complaining about layovers in O’Hare and cold weather in Scotland.

Yet, one has to pause and really think of the privilege it is to be able to travel in this modern world. In my own case, and for many I work with, we have United States passports, one of the most powerful in the world. In my case I am a white, newly middle class woman meaning the color of my skin brings significant pass. I am of able body and of functional financial means. Travel for me is a relatively easy process, and one that I should appreciate more than I do. The reality is that travel is not a right it is a privilege.

For most of the planet leaving your home country, and even your hometown is unattainable. Poverty prevents many a person from ever being able to leave what they know. Even many of the people I grew up with have not had even closely similar experiences to mine. Many are lucky if they leave the state. For many Americans the idea of traveling to another country is simply out of reach. Full Stop.

Yet we gripe about things like layovers and cramped seats. We fuss over spicy foods, or if a castle isn’t as thrilling as one thought it may be. We act annoyed when water doesn’t have ice, or if it’s hard to get a reservation at a Michelin Star Restaurant. We’re angry because Jiro Ono doesn’t want to serve you sushi. Do we even hear ourselves?

My request is this: really think about what you’re upset about.

When I catch myself irritated that I can’t travel as much as I want to all the time, or that flights to Thailand are 22+ hours, I need to remember the facts of our time. We live in a world where travel is more accessible and more affordable for the average person than ever before. We live in a time where more and more people are traveling, studying, and living outside of their home country. We live in a time of global connections well beyond our wildest dreams of two generations before. So why are we complaining?

When my grandmother was born in 1927 if her family had been able to or wanted to travel to Europe they would have had to do the following:

  • Train from Burlington, Kansas to Chicago, Illinois. Chicago train to the East Coast probably Boston, Massachusetts or New York, New York. Passenger ship travel to London, England or other European port.

This journey would have likely taken two or more week just to arrive on the European continent, let alone your time traveling around or coming home. The point being is that this was a trip that would not have been accessible to the typical working family in 1930s or 1940s America.

In fact, most people didn’t see Europe unless they were in WWI or WWII, and then it was a Europe at its worse, and not the most desirable for tourism. By the time much of the continent had recovered in the 1970s, many veterans began to return, and their families were in tow.

My grandparents never made it to Europe. My grandma dreamed of the fields of Ireland and Highlands of Scotland. She told me elaborate stories of Roman architecture and Vatican wonders; yet she never had the chance to visit. She studied art in college, and she fantasized about seeing things in person, but for her the fantasy couldn’t become reality. Because, in practical Midwestern manners, the fantasy was okay, the real journey was too much. Her generation simply found it impractical unless you had money, and I mean MONEY, upper middle class MONEY.

As we have entered into a world of cheaper airfare and better technology, my travels to Europe and Latin America have been possible. I came from humble means and busted ass to get to do what I have done. In an example, my mom didn’t even know you COULD study abroad; she grew up in the 80s.

So my point is this, next time O’hare pissed you off (believe me, everyone who has been there, has come to this point) just remember what traveling 100 years ago would have been and remember a 3-hour delay isn’t soooo bad.

Remember how lucky you are to get to go, explore, exist, and be in a widely fascinating world. Be grateful that others help facilitate this journey through their service, kindness, and welcoming heart. Be benevolent in your ear, your money (be generous in tipping, and purchases you can afford), and your patience as all of these things make the travel easier. Finally, a smile is a universal kindness, not to be forgotten.

Happy Travels!


If Journalism Isn’t Thorough- We All Fail



The election of Donald Trump surprised everyone, probably even Donald Trump, if his behavior the last month has been any indication.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you probably have been in the hole of what I am talking about. When journalism isn’t thorough we all fail.

We all fail because we don’t get complex coverage that explains what is happening through background information and references. That means that people hear that something bad is happening but they don’t understand why. They think terrorist attacks are only because of “hatred”, while partially true, the more complicated story is that terrorists are often people with a lack of education and have been targeted by people recruting for some extreme cause or another. Hate groups, the world over act this way, the only way to combat it: financial resources and education for everyone. This is as true for the KKK in poverty stricken Alabama as it is for poor mountanous villages in Afghanistan.

Yet our news rarely talks about this deeply complex connection. Or rather that every event and news story is connected to many other things in the world. We can kill ourselves trying to untangle the web, but we also must find a balance in providing enough context for everyone to understand.

This morning I read an article on the fall then rise then fall then rise of Twinkie,  those sugary creamy addicting snack cakes that is made by Hostess. Not only was the article an angering read on how investors move money from one system to another to make big bucks while leaving employees out in the cold, but it had one line that explains so much of what has happened in this nation as of recent. It explains why people, usually Democrats, were so put off by everything that they voted for Trump, in a final gamble to try and get their lives back:

‘“People understand jobs going to China,” said Michael Hillard, an economics professor at the University of Southern Maine. “But no one has ever heard of these private equity firms that come in and do all this financial engineering. It is much more complicated and less visible.”’

The woold is pulled over eyes to divert what is actually happening. It’s easy to blame government initiatives that allow for global trade, and feel that it’s ruining someone’s life, it’s another to understand that many of these problems come from financial manipulation by bosses and big financial players. People like Donald Trump.

And here is where journalism has failed. We weren’t thorough enough about what is happening with jobs and politics and government so that everyone can understand what is happening to their jobs and automation. The easy story is showing what Trump said about China, and giving a spokesman- now head of the country- free publicity to spout a false-reality.

Of course, it’s not all on the hands of the journalist. Journalists who can’t make a living at their work anymore, and who are constantly under pressure to make click-bait and increase ad views. They’re encouraged to do so much and such a variety to get more hits, than they are driven by thorough story-telling and accuracy. Television news is the same- how can we get people to watch?

Consumers are to blame for a constant need of easy to digest fluffy news, that goes down like marshmallow but slowly rots the teeth and gives the consumer  diabetes. I’m to blame as someone that is in media, I want cat videos and simple narratives, it’s not always comfortable to face long stories with complex informaiton.

Yet we have to.

We really have to. Because without thorough information we are in a whole lot of trouble when it comes to keeping all forces, not just Donald Trump, accountable for their actions and work. It’s not click-bait to make sure that human rights are preserved and people have a chance to live a decent life, but it’s really important.