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inspiring

Sustainability

The Future of Travel – Bright, Inclusive, and Kind

It started with an email.

“Dear Valued Passenger,

 THAI Smile Flight WE577 departing from Luang Prabang (LPQ) to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) travelling between 29 March 2020 to 24 October 2020 has unfortunately been cancelled. In the event of flight cancellation, you may choose from the following options that best suit your convenience…”

Calls followed. Later, more emails ensued. Then, the cyclone of stress loomed – checking flight transfers, rebooking hotels, waiting for confirmation, reading cancellation policies, changing itineraries, waiting some more – threatening to rob the joy of travel. I was left tetchy on most days, having bounced from frustrations of work to irritations of travel, all of which stemmed from extenuating circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

Lunch with a friend on a Friday afternoon flipped my mood on its head. His words sunk deep and I pondered on them the day after, alone in the safety of my room and away from the ambient chatter of a packed eatery.

Having life as we know it, our normality, abruptly interrupted without warning will take a toll on just about anyone. It is an unprecedented time, disrupting industries and affecting millions. Taking a step back from the hurricane enabled me to look at the situation from a different vantage point.

For instance, customer service coordinating across various departments and airlines; reservation managers telling me not to worry and to stay safe; restaurant owners and chefs volunteering to help others while also needing help, and so much more. What I then saw was a rallying call across industries – doing everything they can in uncharted territory to ensure people’s needs are met – hospitality and service at its purest and finest. In simpler words, I needed to get over myself.

Maybe, one of our greatest revelations during this delicate time should be about our connectedness – how wonderful would it be that instead of why, we would ask how; instead of your, we would say our; instead of assigning blame, we would assign help; instead of sharing fear, we would share faith; instead of pointing fingers, we would stretch hands; instead of wanting more, we would need less; instead of being weighed by despair, we would be buoyed by hope; instead of outward noise, we would hear inward peace – that life would never be the same but that is all right, because we are in this together and we would figure it out together.

The paradigm shift in the global voice from the individual “me” to the collective “us”, from the singular “I” to the plural “our” exemplified what humanity should have always looked like and what the future of travel can be: bright, inclusive, kind.

If all else fails, remember gratitude. It is potent and powerful. In the waiting, look back on the places we have been, not with aching sadness, but with fervent fondness. Focus on all the things we do have – time to slow down, space to think, and capacity to love. Learn more in our How to be a Better Traveler in 2020.

Journal Solo Travel Stories

To The Women Who Wander

To the women who wander, remember this, your courageous steps made toward learning this wide world, its people, its nuances and details and sweeping landscapes, is a testament to the curiosity within us all. But the stark difference between you, dear Dame Traveler, and those who are happy to just stay put is this… you fearlessly open your arms to the possibility of what this world has to show you. You fear not about the tribulations of trying to navigate coarse waters or bumpy backroads, because you know that no matter the end destination is, you will learn and you will grow.

To the women who wander, let you commit this to memory, follow where your footsteps guide you. For you are the dreamer, the maker, the seeker you read about in storybooks and anthologies of world explorers. Let your misty-eyed wonderings lead you to wander wherever your heart desires. You are more than your degree, your pinned locations, your checkins and your baggage. You are a person of this world hellbent on seeing, savoring and experiencing all that you can collect through the places you inhabit and the people you meet.

Delight in the fact that you are a world explorer. At one time, the names of the world navigators were once only fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and nephews. That time is long gone. And you, you free feathered woman, are a legendary change in perspective. You are atop a ship, scanning the broad horizon, you are a captain of your explorations. Every day you pack a nap-sack like Huckleberry Finn. You trek with confidence and pride as if just like a conquistador set on your path. And yet, all the while, you are sensitive, you are compassionate, you are a mess, you are a work in progress, and you are a feminine power to be reckoned with. And the greatest power you possess is that ability to dually be resilient and vulnerable all at once.

To the women who wander, know this, you are a divine, curious student of the world. Let it teach you, let it break you, let it lift you back up. Let it lead you to stories that only you could dream up. Wander on, dear heart.

Interviews

Sara Melotti: On A Quest To Redefine Beauty Worldwide

You’re the founder of the inspiring project Quest for Beauty. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what inspired you to start it?


Quest for Beauty, is a project for social change. An actual quest around the world to find out what beauty means for women, giving them a voice, with the mission to change the unrealistic beauty standards we are forced upon everyday.

After 3 years working as a fashion photographer I started to feel torn inside when I realized that the work I was producing was helping creating unrealistic beauty standards that made many women suffer, making them feel they aren’t good enough. My conscience crisis came when I started noticing that more and more of my girlfriends were constantly saying horrible things about their appearances and their body, yet they were gorgeous to my eyes. Then one day it hit me: it was my fault!

We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with images of flawless “perfect looking” women and we now think that’s what we should aspire to look like. But those images aren’t real nor achievable . It takes hours of work, a model with physical traits that belong to below 2% of the population, a whole team of professionals and tons of photo shop and post production to achieve the look we see in those images. What we see in advertisements and magazines are unreachable standards, but not many people know that!

So I felt the need to change that! I didn’t want to be part of a self esteem killer machine anymore, I wanted to make women feel good about themselves with my work as I strongly believe that every woman deserves to feel Beautiful and comfortable in her own skin. I started asking myself “what is Beauty?”, and in October 2015 I began to travel, photographing an interviewing women to find out!

Where is one place you feel most like yourself?
Kind of everywhere now but I have 3 places where I feel more in tune with myself: South East Asia, London & NYC (quite opposite places!) I am both very zen and spiritual, and very artsy, driven and workaholic so weather I’m meditating overlooking green rise paddies in Vietnam or typing away on my laptop in a griddy coffee shop in the East village or listening to music on the Piccadilly line during rush hour I feel completely myself and in tune!

Who or what inspires you?
Everything! Seriously! Nature, Art, Music, People, words.

When it comes to photography I try to look for inspiration outside of my own field.

As far as people go I’m a sucker for Neil Gaiman and Anthony Bourdain!

What growth experiences have you learned from travel?
Travel is such a humbling and self discovering process, it shrank my ego so much and it taught me to learn to trust my instinct at all time!

The more I travel the more I realize that I really don’t know shit! How little I am in this world, how much there is to learn from other cultures, from nature and from life itself. And lastly I’m learning that no one is better than anyone else and we are all so similar despite our differences.

You often ask this question yourself but what do YOU believe makes a woman most beautiful? And what is beauty to you?
Self esteem, a kind and loving heart and an open mind! Beauty to me is a feeling, an emotion. It’s a little spark in your heart that makes you eel something.

What makes you come alive?
Creating and traveling. Weather I’m writing, dancing, photographing there’s something in the process of creating that I can’t live without. Same goes for traveling, seeing new places , new cultures and new realities fuels my veins with new life!

What is your creative process like?
A mess!! I’m quite mystical about it actually. I have my rituals to make inspiration come faster (scented candles and music always help me writing!) then when I finally get in the zone, as crazy as it sounds, I feel like ideas don’t really come from me, I’m more like an antenna that catches them from somewhere else and brings them here to turn them into something we can see and touch. To turn them into that I then sit down and do the work!

Your most rewarding accomplishments to date?
Finding the courage to leave the life I knew and loved for pursuing my project full time. Having articles about QFB on publications like the Huffington Post and Teen Vogue is incredible for me but having women from across the world writing me telling me the project is helping them to feel good about the way they look is the biggest reward.

Aisle or window seat?
Always window! Watching the sky is always a beautiful show.

What’s your best advice for aspiring travelers and dreamers?
Don’t take life too seriously, have fun, don’t ever fully grow up, be kind, trust your instinct, persevere, don’t listen to anyone and believe everything is possible! Something within you—call it your subconscious, your soul, your inner voice or whatever you prefer— already knows what’s best for you, trust that gut feeling! People will always tell you something is impossible, or too hard or not likely, don’t listen to them and keep going! Whether you want to visit every country on earth, climb Mount Everest or simply quit a job that is not making you happy, you can make it happen; thing are impossible only if we believe they are, the only real obstacles between you and your dreams is you!

Follow more of Sara’s adventures:
Behind the Quest: blog | instagram
Quest for Beauty: website | instagram

Journal Latin America Photography

“For Love Truly Knows No Borders” Memories from El Salvador

“For love truly knows no borders”- unknown

As I have grown up, seeing the world has constantly been a top priority. While planning various expeditions, I always unintentionally imagine what activities will be like and what the place I am going to will look like prior to my getaway. I have discovered that the reality of these situations and experiences are ALWAYS profoundly different than the image I build up in my mind.

Such was true In the summer of 2014, when I made the decision to spend a week in El Salvador with various friends. While the purpose of this trip was to share our faith in Christianity, there were various other experiences that will stand out in my memory for a lifetime.

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I’ve come to learn that memories are one of the most valuable things I can possess. One experience, which surpassed my imagination, was hiking the San Salvador Volcano. Standing in awe at the top of it, out of breath from having climbed so far, and peering into the crater in the center where lava once flowed made me contemplate how small I truly am. These moments when we feel as limited as I felt at this juncture often come when we face something so marvelous, and out of the ordinary.

On the last day of the journey, several days after the volcanic hike, the peak of the trip (and quite possibly my summer) occurred. My friends and I were expected at an El Salvadorian high school where we would go into the classrooms there, and socialize with the students. Before we went into the classrooms we were waiting in an outdoor courtyard in the high school.

I saw out of the corner of my eye a girl, around my age, twirling a baton amateurishly. I was thrilled to see her because I was, many years prior to this trip, a competitive baton twirler. Up until this point in the journey, I had faced a constant struggle with trying to participate with the El Salvadorians because I did not speak their language. I knew that this baton was my way to befriend this girl, who’s only language was one that I was ignorant to. I worked up the nerve and boldly left my group and approached her, politely asking her if I could borrow her baton; she gave it to me, and I began to teach her.

It was extraordinary how we hadn’t said an understandable word to each other, yet through this shared passion of baton twirling I was able to share my abilities, laugh with her, and build a friendship in a way I never had before. I experienced a human interconnectedness that language had not provided, “for love truly knows no borders”- unknown.

About a half-hour later, a translator approached us, she asked me a bundle of questions about America and I asked her a bundle of questions about El Salvador. As we wrapped up our conversation she and her friends requested that I performed a baton routine for them, I reluctantly complied and entertained them with one of my old routines (making up the parts I had forgotten over the years). When I finished a friend of mine, Lily, requested that she snap a photo of the girl with the baton and me together. We then said our goodbyes, and her and I left each other with a rare knowledge that this was likely the last time we would ever see one another in this lifetime.

This knowledge made our goodbye so authentic from the ones I have become accustomed to saying out of a traditional habit. Following this trip I found that going outside the boundaries of home and into the unknown borders of unfamiliar places is one of the premium ways for us to flourish, expand our horizons, and no longer be caught up in the tunnel vision that everyday routines can create.

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Written by Carleigh Klein

Photography by Instagram

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