We had a very wet, exhilarating blast of a time during our first Songkran Thai New Year celebration! In Chiang Mai, people converge around the Old City‘s moat with water guns, hoses, buckets, and refill barrels! Our friends from the USA picked Songkran week to visit us in Thailand so they could join in on the madness! We had tons of fun acting like kids, dueling with Thai families, dodging water gun fire all around us and sneak-attacking unsuspecting tourists! Who’s coming to Thailand for Songkran next year?
Many of us go traveling without any real purpose or direction. This can be great but sometimes our travel can cause harm to the local economies, environments, and people. Being mindful about how your travel affects others can make a real positive difference, especially in the developing world. Here is our list of 7 ways that Positive Impact Tourism is important when you’re on the road.
1) Dress Like the Locals:
If you travel to a Muslim or more religious country, you don’t necessarily have to wear a hijab or dress to your ankles. However, you might consider ditching the crop top and short shorts for a more conservative approach. This is especially important when entering temples and other religious sanctuaries.
2) Understand Local Customs:
Before you embark on your trip, take a moment to Google “how to be polite in __________”. This will go along way to encouraging the local people to not hate you. For instance, in Thailand it is very impolite and unheard of to get visibly upset or mad at someone. Keeping your cool can go a long way to having a more positive traveling experience.
3) Avoid Businesses Profiting Off of Animals:
Playing with the elephants, petting tigers, feeding the monkeys. These things all sound mighty fun but these businesses are profiting off of keeping wild animals in cages. These places are sad and there are few that should be supported. Spend your money in National Parks where the wildlife is wild and will eat you if you try to pet it.
4) Reduce Waste Along Your Journey:
Carry a reusable bag and water bottle on your travels. When you go shopping, insist that they put your purchases into your reusable bag. Also, many hostels have drinking water stations so refilling your bottle can save a lot of money along with reducing waste. Try to avoid plastic bottles in general, as usually you have an option to purchase soda in a can. Refusing plastic straws is also a great way to help the environment as single use straws are very destructive. Check out these bamboo drinking straws which are reusable and make you look super educated when you use them.
5) Eat At Local Restaurants:
When you go to a new country and immediately go straight to McDonalds, you are being a very bad tourist. Eating at the local establishments keeps the money you spend in the community. Skip Starbucks and drink the local coffee. It will be cheaper and you won’t look like a total douche. Spending your money the right way is one of the most important parts of positive impact tourism.
6) Volunteer The Right Way:
Stick to volunteering on farms or at hostels to extend your stay. Many “voluntourism” options create more harm than good. Make sure to do your research especially if it involves elephants or orphans. Make sure your work is having a long tetm positive impact before you begin your stay. Here is an article from the Huffington Post about “voluntourism” and the “white savior complex” and how terrible it is for third world nations. One of our favorite Instagram stars, Barbie Savoir, sums up the problem pretty well through her clever satire.
7) Learn The Language:
Locals understand that most travelers can’t speak their language. However, it’s really easy to pick up a couple words to make yourself a more polite traveler. Learning “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” in every country you visit can earn you a lot of respect and smooth over awkward situations. Do not just show up and start yelling at everyone in English. Bad Tourist!!!
Like this article about Positive Impact Tourism? Check out our archives for other amazing stories and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram@laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel for new and exciting videos!
This is the first in a series of posts we’re starting that will feature the businesses of our traveling friends and clients of Global Traveler Networks! We’re featuring amazing people who we 100% support and helping them spread the word about the good they are offering the world!
Iosif and Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy are quite inspirational. We met them randomly over the internet and they kindly offered us a free first psychotherapy session of “couples therapy from a couple” as they call it. Their focus is in combining psychotherapy, metaphysics and spirituality to create a holistic approach to bettering your life. Originating from Romania but currently based in Bali , they conduct their sessions in person or via Skype. Most of their clients are people who have already broken out of the so-called “normal realm” of thinking and are looking for the next level of consciousness. Long term travelers and digital nomads could find them the most beneficial, since when living overseas its hard to know where to go or who to turn to if you would like to talk to a therapist. Also, local therapists from the country you are in might not understand your background and your nomadic lifestyle!
One of the most interesting things that we talked about in our session was our fears around money. Natalia and Iosif really opened our eyes to the difference between the “spending mindset” vs the “investing mindset. ” Whenever you are using money for any reason, do you think of it as “spending” i.e. the scary loss of money, or as “investing” into yourself. “God is in you, and you can trust god” said Natalia, “You must know that you will be given all that you need, when you need it”.
Mattera is picky about the people they take on for sessions as they are better suited to those who have already started along the path of expanding their conscious awareness. The best way to describe their target market might be “hippie traveler digital nomads”.
If you go to their website, mattera.life, you can sign up for a free first session so Iosif and Natalia can get to know you a little bit. They want to open doors for you inside of yourself, so you can search around for your own happiness. Some of their areas of expertise are helping people with limiting beliefs, emotional blockages and traumas, and accessing higher states of consciousness. Their theory is that by building your life in the right way, the universe will conspire to give you everything that you need.
Enjoy this post about Mattera: Life Designing and Psychotherapy? Check out ourarchives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram@laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.
There is no debating it, the people at Chacos have put together the worlds greatest shoe.
Some of the best uses for Chacos are:
Hiking: Chacos really grip those rocks and don’t move around on your feet.
Backpacking: Super durable and maintenance-free. Your feet stay omfy and dry fast after you get them wet. It’s also great to not need as many pairs of socks, which always smell and are hard to wash in the sink.
At the salsa bar: Great for showing off those gringo dance moves. The chicas will be muy impressed by your super style. They come in several styles and hundreds of colors.
On the bus: Throw on some socks under your Chacos for those air conditioned rides and rock that classic dad look.
Church: That’s right, Jesus would have worn them on the pulpit. Birkenstocks? Yeah right!
This hike full of poisonous plants and animals is not recommended for Chaco-wearers.This picture is from the day I got a weird rash all over my hands and feet. Most of my fingernails and toenails died, peeled off, and looked really stupid for the next few months.
They retail for just under $99 or 3000 Thai Baht or 0.02 Bitcoin and you can get them from REI or anywhere that sells outdoor gear. If your local store doesn’t have them than you really just need a better local store or figure out how to use the internet for things other than selfies. So why don’t you stop wasting time here and get out and buy some killer sandals??
Here is a long-overdue short video from our travels through Cuba in January 2017. Cuba was one of the countries most devastated by recent hurricanes. They have been largely skipped in the international aid effort and the United States makes it nearly impossible to help them in any way. We are researching ways to help and will report back if we find something legitimate. Please comment if you have any ideas!!!
Going Home to Black Rock City is so impossible to write about. Life on the playa is so radically different, full of childhood wonder and fantastical ideas that become reality. It reminds us that life is art, that giving is good, and that surprises are around every corner.
We found Java Johnny, our favorite old coffee-slinging nonsense-talking character, right in the same spot he was 3 years ago. (“Attention campers! If you’re wondering what time is it, I have the time for you. Get ready to set your clocks! The time is….THURSDAY!”) Naked Lady was there too, and so was an awesome couple from Portland who brought a whole box of Voodoo Donuts that stayed fresh enough for the first 2 days.
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” -Java Johnny
I met a kid who went to Hofstra University with me and was in the same major a couple years younger than me. We drank Zach’s homebrewed saison and reminisced about old professors. “Come to New York,” he told me, “I’ll get you a job.”
On the first day it rained, which never happens. The playa turned into thick, cement-like mud, which coated our shoes like glue until everyone had a 4-inch platform of mud. My cheap old boots somehow didn’t attract the mud as much, but Zach and others went around barefoot or wrapped their feet in plastic bags and slid around the neighborhood. It was fun.
Our neighbors formed “Camp Let It Go”, a hodgepodge group of Americans, Aussies, and Brits. They built an amazing multi-level shade structure with hammocks and a fully-stocked bar and DJ setup. They also built a flower dome, one of those old playground domes covered in twinkly lights and lined with pillows and carpets. The best part was the top level of their structure, an elastic-rigged hangout lined with sleeping bags and stuffed animals. We fit a lot of people up there, watching the sunset. You just had to make sure everything was arranged well enough that no one fell through the straps! After all, “safety third.”
On Friday there was a dust storm. It got terrible right when we got to the temple. The only quiet place on the playa, people kneeled praying, meditating, honoring loved ones, as the dust swirled. Biking back, you couldn’t see 4 feet in front of you. I was terrified of getting lost out there, dusty and dried out like a lizard. We made it back and laughed at how our faces were different colors inside and outside our goggles.
My bike got stolen. It was right outside our camp on the outskirts, and we were only next door at Camp Let It Go. Yesterday we got a comment on our blog from the thief. He must have read the “La Aventura Project” bumper sticker stuck on there. You can read it under the “Maps” section. To whoever you are, I’m not that mad about it. I didn’t want to carry that crappy bike back home anyway. I just wish you wouldn’t have taken it on Wednesday! Maybe you’ll keep reading our blog.
There were more moments, more laughs, more awestuck-staring than I can ever remember properly. New best friends whose names you’ll never remember. Swirling stars and subtle realizations that you can’t put into words, but they change who you are. It’s hard and dirty and difficult and immensely creative. I hope I’m blessed enough to return.
Going Home to Black Rock City is something we try to do every year. Check out our archives for more Burn stories and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject
After dropping our dog Dusty off in Arizona to be kindly taken care of by her grandparents for the next two months, we headed off toward Zion National Park on a long meandering path to Burning Man! The first stop was Horseshoe Bend, a crazy geological formation near the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. It’s only a mile off the lonely highway but it’s still surprising to see so many tourists and hear so many foreign languages being spoken in this crazy desolate area. The short walk down to the overlooks is totally worth it if you don’t mind your stomach turning a bit! No guard rails here, as in most of the canyon. With more than a 1000 foot straight drop off in most places, I wouldn’t recommend cliff jumping either.
After seeing the bend we crossed Lake Mead into Utah. Since it was Friday and we hadn’t made a reservation, we were assuming Zion National Park would be full and we’d just find a campsite outside the park. But, lo and behold, luck was on our side and we pulled up to the gate just in time to nab the last campsite in the park, over at Watchman Campground.
After setting up our tent next to some way-too-tame deer and a little fawn, we hiked the Watchman Trail, along the Virgin River and up a small bluff. I remember tubing in this river when I was a young girl. Warped memories from when I was really small plus the western drought in recent years made it seem significantly less “rapid” than I remembered, haAfter a good night’s sleep, we set off the next morning on the trail to Angel’s Landing, one of the most popular and strenuous hikes in Zion National Park.
We were repeatedly warned of the difficulty-steep grades and sheer dropoffs and do not attempt if you’re not a confident hiker! Call us crazy, but as relatively-well-seasoned hikers, we didn’t think much of it. Granted, the trail was a lot of steep switchbacks, really tough on the thighs! The trail was really wide though so the “sheer dropoff” wasn’t quite as dangerous as they made it sound. Or so we thought! It wasn’t until we got ourselves almost 2000 feet up to the last section of trail that we got our rude awakening. I’m not sure “trail” is even the right term for the last climb up Angel’s Landing! It’s literally a skinny outcropping of slanted rock layers, with a chain bolted along the side for you to desperately cling to, while you place your feet into crazy contorted positions, precisely one after another, trying to ignore the sheer drop to your right! Ahh! Oh, and there’s only “one lane” for all hikers, so sometimes you’re practically climbing over the top of people or bear hugging them so they can pass or you can pass them. They needed some traffic control up there!
The thing is, I am not really scared of heights that much. Strap me into a harness on a belay system and I’ll hang out off the top of that precipice all day. But when I know that it’s only my own strength keeping me from falling to my death, that’s when I freak out. I know I can do it, but I’d wayyyyy rather have a lifeline. Anyway, we’d come so far, so we kept going to the top, stopping to snap a few pics, all the while our hearts still beating and palms sweating at the thought of having to go back down the same way. Luckily, we kept our cool and no one went hurtling. After finishing the sketchy section, we practically ran down the rest of the trail, and finished the whole round trip in 1/2 the time the rangers tell you it takes. Ha, at least we’ve still got that on them!