Shannon is the voice behind the travel blog A Little Adrift. She left for a year long round the world trip in 2008 and hasn't stopped traveling since. Her unique stories chronicle her travels, inspire, and offer advice for others taking RTW trips. As a supporter of ecotourism she also offers tips for minimizing the negative impact of travel on the environment. Additionally, Shannon incorporates volunteering on her travels, such as teaching english to monks in Nepal and volunteering at a Cambodian orphanage. Yep, she's pretty awesome and there is is never a dull moment in her travels. Despite her busy schedule, Shannon was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions for us. Thanks Shannon!
1. Where in the world are you now?
Shannon: Hunkering down in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a few months as I explore the northern region of Southeast Asia. The city makes a fantastic base for slow travelers who want to get to know a country a bit better (like me!); it's small enough to be navigable, but has an amazing supply of diverse street foods and cuisines from all of the neighboring regions and cultures.
2. When and how did you get hooked on travel?
Shannon: The first wisps of wander-dreams popped into my head as I paged through the images and stories in my monthly National Geographic magazine as a teenager. My dad has continually renewed our subscription, and even bought the NatGeo Traveler magazine once I hit the road so that I would have research materials every time I pass through the US for a visit.
Those NatGeos were the earliest days of dreaming; my first international travel actually didn't happen until I was 21 and headed to Europe for a study-abroad program. It was somewhere on the winding back-roads of Northwestern Ireland that it occurred to me this is jived with me more than any other moment...we were in a rental car, misting rain on the windshield, and pulled over to ask a Irish man walking his dog for directions. Twenty minutes later we were still chatting, oblivious to the rain, and had yet to get around to the topic of directions. And I thought "Yes, this is good."
This past weekend Tokyo was filled with people celebrating sakura (cherry blossom) season. The cherry blossoms are fully bloomed at most parks in Tokyo. To learn more about the cherry blossom season, please read our recent Sakura Season blog post. Our partner in Tokyo enjoyed a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) party on Saturday at Ueno Park and was kind enough to send us a few pictures. The weather was beautiful and the Ueno Zoo had just welcomed 2 pandas from China, who also drew a large crowd.
Unfortunately with the situation in Japan, many tourists overseas will not be able to see the scenic beauty of the cherry blossoms this spring. So, our partners wanted to share the following pictures with our friends and clients who were unable to come to Japan to see sakura.
Global Basecamps is pleased to announce we will be matching donations to the Real Medicine Foundation’s Japan earthquake and tsunami relief dollar for dollar up to $2,500. Without spending additional money, you can double your donation to the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief fund.
As of March 28th the Real Medicine Foundation has partnered with a Japanese non-profit in Tokyo, Japanese Emergency NGO (JEN) to deliver aid and supplies to those most affected. JEN is an officially registered Japanese non-profit founded in 1994 in response to the humanitarian crisis in Bosnia, and has since then been conducting relief around the world for victims of war, internal conflicts and natural disasters. JEN is focusing on providing food and other needed supplies to those sheltered in Tokyo and in the earthquake/tsunami affected northern zones. The JEN teams remain busy on the ground in the tsunami affected areas by providing food, shelter, water and other basic necessities to the thousands of people stranded in shelters.
Global Basecamps is sponsoring a video series on sustainable tourism. In the first video, Dr. Jess Ponting walks viewers through the basic concepts of sustainable tourism. Dr. Ponting is a professor at San Diego State University. He specializes in the use of sustainable tourism for community development. His areas of interest include sustainable tourism, surfing tourism, volunteer tourism, cross cultural interactions in tourism, and the social construction of tourist spaces. Currently he is researching peak experiences in surfing tourism, the interface between traditional systems of reef resource ownership and sustainable marine tourism in the Pacific Islands, and much more involving sustainable tourism.
Additionally, Dr Ponting is developing the world’s first Center for Surf Research (CSR) at San Diego State University. The CSR is a non-profit research and teaching organization that will lead surf tourism to a more sustainable path by:
Generating, and disseminating specialist knowledge to governments, the surf industry, tourism developers, destination communities, non-profits, and tourists;
Shaping responsible global citizens through life-changing experiential learning opportunities for students and the wider community;
Inspiring, encouraging, and facilitating active stakeholder engagement with the social and economic development of destination communities, sustainable use of their resources, and conservation of their critical environments
Sustainable tourism in simple terms is tourism that does not deplete economic, social/cultural and environmental resources. The ultimate goals of sustainable tourism are to provide a high-quality experience for the visitors, strengthen the host cultures and communities, and to develop tourism-related livelihoods while preserving the surrounding environment. Sustainable tourism is widely considered to be the fastest growing segment of the world’s largest industry.
At Global Basecamps we are major advocates of knowing before you go, as evidenced
here and here. In order to truly understand and appreciate
another country’s culture it is important to learn about their social norms and the proper
etiquette there. As you start your journey to explore another country, don’t you think it
would be nice to know a little about where and what you are diving into? When you are
packing for your much needed vacation I urge you to take some time to research the
cultural expectations and norms common to your host country.
Over the next couple of weeks I will give you some extra helpful information
on what to know before you go, starting with Tanzania cultural norms and expectations. I will give you some advice on how to be a
green and respectable tourist.
Disregarding the cultural norms and customs of the country you are visiting is extremely
offensive to the local people. Your waiter, taxi driver, tour guide, and the local people
will be greatly appreciative of you making the extra effort to understand their culture and
demonstrating this. Even if you think you have already read about the culture, make the
extra effort and learn about a certain cultural tradition that they have to make your
experience that much better, and gain a deeper understanding of the local people and
customs. There are plenty of dos and don'ts that people should know about before
taking their excursions across the world. Simply being respectful to the local people and
showing that you want to learn about their culture and day to day way of life will go a
long way in enhancing your cultural experience.