Q&A with Founder of Better World Tours
Updated: Jul 7, 2019
Where did your passion for travel come from?
When I was growing up my parents and I would go on a roadtrip through the United States every summer. It was their dream to show me all 50 states before I started high school. Although we didn’t have an excessive amount of money to spend on these trips, we would camp or stay in motels and it was always an incredible experience getting so intimate with these new places. It inspired me in such a deep way that when I got older and started planning my own trips - I realized it was wanted to do with my life. I wanted to help people travel who may not have thought that they could do so based on their income or life situation. Traveling does not have to be expensive - travel can be going two hours from your house and camping or exploring a new location in your area. I believe that every place has beautiful things to experience and that there is so much to find if you open your eyes to it. I want to bring the essence of what I’ve learned to my work and help people adopt that attitude towards travel. Travel should be something that can be accessible for everyone.
What do you think the benefit of travel is in our societal climate today?
Often times it feels like the media is inundating the masses with messages about how different we all are from one another. We are told that our values as Americans are so divergent from the values of a variety of other cultures. When you travel, you realize how similar all of our values are. By realizing how similar are values are, all of the prejudices that you may have had disappear. Additionally, it helps you take stock of what is important in your own life. In the age of consumerism, we’re told that happiness can be bought through material gain. On my travels, I have found that many people with very little often have the biggest hearts and smiles on their faces. From children to adults who may not have much but exude happiness and light. This can help us find gratitude in our own lives and understand our own privileges in order to help others.
What excites you about travel?
Discovering the unknown. One of my favorite things to do is to get lost. Anyone who knows me knows that about me. I love to go on the backroads, explore new cities without a clear destination in mind and find magical things in strange places. If it’s hard to get to - it’s probably my favorite place personally. I love to go off the beaten path and find underground spots and hidden gems. I feel like you can really get to the heart of a new place by getting lost in it.
Do you prefer using a GPS or a map?
I prefer using GPS when I’m in a rush but maps when I have all day to explore. If I had to choose one, I would say using a map. To me, it’s like the difference between listening to an MP3 or pulling out a Vinyl and listening to it on a record player. A map is something tangible and it just feels better to me. It also helps me focus more on directions and get more acquainted to wherever I am.
What life lessons have you learned through travel?
When I first started traveling, I thought it was way better to go with the flow and see where things would lead me. I never would look up information about my destination, I just adopted the attitude of going somewhere and figuring it out. While that was a really fun way to travel and led me to a lot of cool places - I also didn’t see some of the main attractions in these locations. I would say the lesson I learned about traveling is to find balance in studying up on the place I’m visiting but also leave room to be surprised. I think it’s important to not be so scheduled and leave time to explore the unknown but also do enough research to know what events are going on when you are going to be traveling. Don’t be too rigid with planning but don’t be so set on improvisation. Find balance and be able to flow with that.
What has changed about traveling since you’ve had children?
Since I’ve traveled with my kids, I have looked into playgrounds in whichever destination I’m visiting and I’ve learned that it’s actually a perfect way to be locals. For example when I was recently in Brisbane, Australia - we found an amazing park that my kids absolutely loved and met many locals and were given a lot of amazing advice on restaurants/beaches/bars in the area. The second thing that has changed is that I’ve learned to move slower. They remind me to literally stop and smell the roses instead of just moving from destination to destination.
What’s your advice for a solo traveler? Stay in hostels and talk to people. Right now, especially with so many people being able to work remotely - there are tons of opportunities to meet people while traveling. Hostels are a really cool way to immediately be with people are also traveling alone. I have found some of the best friends I have by staying in hostels. While I think Air B&B’s are awesome, I would only recommend them to people who are not going solo. You will meet a lot less people if you stay in them and if you do you would only be meeting locals. While there’s so many benefits of traveling with locals who are living in the place you are visiting, there’s something even more special about traveling with other travelers. There is magic being with someone witnessing something for the first time in the same way that you are.
What would you recommend to a traveler visiting a country where they do not know the language?
Learn how to say good morning and goodnight in that language and learn how to order food and ask for the check. Even if those you speak to understand English, I guarantee that they still appreciate you trying to learn their language. It shows a great respect and that alone will make things a lot easier in your interactions with people. Even just learning a few words will open a lot of doors.
Any advice that you’d give to people buying specialty items while traveling?
If you are going to bargain, never bargain unless you are sure that you want the product. You should set your price and then get to a fair price and then purchase the item. Never negotiate just to negotiate and walk away. Additionally, always try to be the first buyer of the day and you will typically get the best deals.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through traveling? I met my best friend during President Bush’s time in office during a tumultuous time with foreign affairs. I was living in Australia but the news back home was that french fries were being called freedom fries and it was a hugely patriotic time after the attacks on September 11th 2001. There was an anti-French sentiments in America during this time and vice versa. There were stereotypes going back and forth. When I met my now best friend Leticia and I found out she was French and she found out that I was American - there were some feelings of prejudice there on both sides. Those classic stereotypes of how an American is and how a person from France is. After getting to know eachother, we realized that we had everything in common. That made us see eachother for who were both were and so much changed. I’ve known her for thirteen years and it may not have even happened if we followed through on the prejudices we originally had towards eachother. From that experience, I learned that the things that separate us are not as powerful as the things that unite us.