Tourism: 14 Globetrotters Redefining the Way We Travel

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When it came to finding travelers that fit into our clan of New Nomads, there was little question that these 14 globetrotters would make the cut.

Their strengths range from hiking and guiding to urban exploring, and these individuals—spread across London, New Mexico, Tokyo, Havana, and more—are traveling the way we want to right now. Whether you need encouragement to get out on the road, ideas for where to go next, or help getting there, these are the folks to follow.

The Outdoor Diversifier: Jenny Bruso
Self-identifying as “fat, femme, queer, a former indoor kid,” Bruso caught the hiking bug seven years ago on a date near her hometown of Portland, Oregon, but began to notice how much she stood out on the trails. The great American wilderness just wasn’t very diverse—or so it seemed from advertising imagery and boots on the ground. So in 2016 she founded the Instagram community Unlikely Hikers, showcasing nonwhite, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming hikers; now she partners with the U.S. National Forests, leading groups to Mount Rainier and encouraging others to hit the trail, like trekking drag queen Pattie Gonia. Grassroots power at its most inspiring.

The Experiential Evangelist: Ozzy Yerlikaya
E.M. Forster’s prescription to “only connect” can be tricky to put into practice when traveling—it’s easy to leave a place only having spoken to a taxi driver or server. This Turkish-born Cape Town resident, however, opened his little South African black book in the city and fired up Travel Designer, corralling a fleet of Land Rover Defenders and taking clients to meet an origami master, gallerists, a Porsche collector, even a political cartoonist. Trek up to Lion’s Head and a champion barista may be there already to greet you with a freshly brewed coffee. A larger-than-life fixer who knows that ticking off the usual sights isn’t the only way to get around.

The Intrepid Trailblazer: Belinda Kirk
This English explorer has a résumé more interesting than your average grizzled adventurer’s. She’s searched for lost rock paintings in Lesotho and Bactrian camels in the Taklamakan, known as China’s Desert of Death, and she has rowed solo around the British Isles. But her primary goal is to encourage others. The Explorers Connect social network she founded has more than 28,000 members, and in June 2016 she launched Wild Night Out, an annual event in the U.K. She was also the chief planner and camerawoman of Beyond Boundaries, a BBC series that followed a group of people with disabilities on extreme adventures across Nicaragua, then from Zimbabwe to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

The European Safari Tracker: Iris De Winter
An expert on primates, this Dutch-born conservationist can tell you all there is to know about the blue-eyed black lemur of Madagascar, but her work with Rewilding Europe is now bringing her close to endangered species in one of the continent’s last great wildernesses. In Romania’s Black Sea Danube Delta, she takes groups out on boats, sleeping on board and drifting silently through wetlands among punk-haired Dalmatian pelicans that flap up mini tornadoes with their eight-foot wingspans. The project has also successfully reintroduced European bison—rarer than the black rhino—in the Southern Carpathians. In our current age of extinction, the call of the rewild is set to become ever louder.

The Canyon Conqueror: Jaylyn Gough
When she was growing up as a Navajo in New Mexico, Gough wondered why no one from National Geographic magazine looked like her. “I felt a spiritual kinship with the outdoors, but in the media it only seemed to be white people exploring it,” she says. A climber and hiking guide, in 2017 she started Native Women’s Wilderness, an online platform to inspire female Native Americans to get outside, which has since spawned subgroups including Indigenous Womxn Climb and Hike. They’ve worked with brands such as sneaker company Hoka One One and raised awareness about the indigenous territories they call home. “There are still misunderstandings,” Gough says, “but we’re increasingly part of the conversation about a landscape that is part of who we are.”

The Solo Adventurers: Lee Thompson & Radha Vyas
Few first-date conversations are as meaningful as the one Thompson and Vyas had in London in 2012. Fresh from an incurious boozy bus tour around Cambodia, Vyas wondered why she couldn’t find immersive, culturally sensitive tours for like-minded single professionals in their 30s and 40s. When she put this to Thompson, a well-traveled photojournalist, he was so enthusiastic that they discussed little else. The result, in 2014, was Flash Pack, which offers group trips for solo explorers to places including Morocco’s Mount Toubkal and the Guatemalan jungle, with boutique accommodation wherever possible. The other result, with perhaps a shade of irony? A marriage.

The Urban Hiker: Liz Thomas
The hiking boot may be having a moment right now, but Sacramento-born Thomashas been lacing up and hot-stepping around city streets for some time. As a thru-hiking champion and women’s unassisted speed record holder for the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail, she started pavement pounding as a way of training in the winter—focusing on tendon-stretching vertical sidewalks in Seattle, L.A., and San Francisco. “They allowed me to climb hills snow-free and duck into shops if the weather turned too cold,” she says. She has now led groups around 11 American cities, including an 88-mile hike to Denver’s breweries. “On foot, you move at a speed where you see the world differently, how neighborhoods really connect.”

The Insiders’ Insider: Naomi Mano
Japan is one of the greatest countries on the planet to observe, yet still among the least penetrable. Step forward this well-connected Tokyoite, whose Luxurique concierge service is able to source gold-dust-rare trips inside sacred Sumo wrestling stables, or the chance to follow Michelle Obama in meeting Eigen Onishi, the forward-thinking Buddhist priest, at Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera temple. Mano is a cultural code breaker, unlocking places even most Japanese don’t get to see.

The Cuba People-Watcher: Chad Olin
He nearly dropped out of Harvard Business School while on a Thai beach during a backpacking trip, but Olin stuck to his studies and took an internship the following summer in Havana. Acting on his impulses, he founded Cuba Candela, linking travelers to on-the-ground experiences in the city: a visit to a Grammy-nominated jazz musician at his pastel-painted home, perhaps, or a chat with a grandmother stirring arroz on the stove. It hasn’t all been smooth (wavering travel policies from the Trump administration, Hurricane Irma), but Olin’s intercultural encounters have made Cuba Candela one of the more popular channels through which Americans can continue traveling there legally.

The Change-Maker: Katalina Mayorga
A backseat chat with her cab driver in Guatemala inspired 33-year-old Mayorga to leave behind her role in international development and cofound El Camino Travel,dedicated to journeys through underdeveloped areas where tourism can make all the economic difference. She runs itineraries in five, mainly Latin American, countries; we chose her as a partner on Traveler’s Women Who Travel trips to Colombia this year. This being full-on immersion, a photographer joins each trip, letting travelers spend less time on smartphones and more time clinking beers with the bartender in Cartagena.

The Mumbai Pioneer: Harshvardhan Tanwar
Mumbai is a true showcase of India’s diversity: Parsi, Konkani, Gujarati, Koli. It is rich with all their stories, yet lacked a real keyhole into their lives. Former advertising creative Tanwar started running small private tours in which guests met before sunrise to visit the city’s markets. Six years later, No Footprints has grown and is constantly innovating. Take its Queer Mumbai trail—responding to India’s 2018 decriminalization of homosexuality with a crash course in the fluidity of Hindu gods at a transgender temple. Inclusive, interactive, and thought-provoking.

The Mumbai Pioneer: Harshvardhan Tanwar
Mumbai is a true showcase of India’s diversity: Parsi, Konkani, Gujarati, Koli. It is rich with all their stories, yet lacked a real keyhole into their lives. Former advertising creative Tanwar started running small private tours in which guests met before sunrise to visit the city’s markets. Six years later, No Footprints has grown and is constantly innovating. Take its Queer Mumbai trail—responding to India’s 2018 decriminalization of homosexuality with a crash course in the fluidity of Hindu gods at a transgender temple. Inclusive, interactive, and thought-provoking.

The Lifestyle Curator: Luis Vargas
The founder and CEO of the new Modern Adventure outfit has given travel a very Portland spin. The group’s mostly one-off global trips pair local guides with West Coast tastemakers who have a special expertise. So a seven-day trip to the country of Georgia is curated by Bonnie and Israel Morales, the duo behind Portland restaurant Kachka, while the cacao-themed Colombia trip is led by San Francisco small-batch chocolatier Greg D’Alesandre and foraging pioneer Traci Des Jardins. “The tastemakers are on a journey themselves,” Vargas says. “Our trips become a meeting of ideas.”

The Hyper-Local Enabler: Ross Belfer
Most visitors to Tel Aviv might expect to find Ben-Gurion House and the beachfront, but how about an art gallery in an old tahini factory, or Jaffa’s Arabic district? With Eager Tourist, New Jersey-born Belfer ducks the rinse-reuse-repeat itineraries of traditional tours by asking architects, night owls, and chefs to lead forays around the city. He’s also plugged into Tbilisi; Porto and the Azores are next.

The Culture Seeker: Cheraé Robinson
A trip to Sierra Leone in 2010 for a humanitarian project was a turning point for Robinson, an American who had always celebrated her connection with Africa but had never been there. “I was struck by the resilience of the people, but also partied like I had never done in my life, which probably cemented my love affair.” Nine years later, her Tastemakers Africa is connecting the diaspora with a global view of black culture—whether meeting anti-apartheid legends in Joburg, dawn fishing in Accra, or touring the art scene in Dakar. A woman helping to plot the post-safari travel map.

by RICK JORDAN
Source: cntraveler.com

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