“Travel is a mindset. It doesn't get greater the further you go; it's almost the opposite. It gets greater the more inside you go.” - Eva Mossberg
In this episode, Christine and guest Eva Mossberg explore the business and the global potential of adventure travel. Eva Mossberg is a leader, innovator, and adventuresome expert in the field of sustainable tourism.
Rooted in the connection between tourism and conservation, they discuss ways to become a more responsible and mindful traveler or tourism professional.
The definition of adventure travel doesn’t need to be rigid or exclusionary. Instead, think of adventure as a mindset. You’re placing yourself in a new situation with an open mind, ready and willing to learn new truths about yourself and the world.
Listen for the welcoming community both Eva and Christine found in this segment of the industry as you look for your place in the adventure tourism space.
Christine and Eva discuss:
Join Christine now for this soulful conversation with Eva Mossberg.
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To learn more about the Adventure Travel Trade Association and begin your free membership, visit the website at https://www.adventuretravel.biz/.
Explore the programs and courses at RISE Travel Institute by visiting https://www.risetravelinstitute.org/.
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Keywords: Adventure travel, Adventure Travel Trade Association, RISE Travel Institute, sustainable travel, responsible travel
Christine: Eva Mossberg is a leader, innovator, and adventurism expert in the field of sustainable tourism. Her experience and broad range of skills span over 20 years and include both undergraduate and graduate degrees in hospitality, tourism, and travel, all facets of domestic and international operations and logistics for various global educational tourism programs, from program development and risk management protocols to sourcing new destinations and strategic partnerships across Europe. She's the partner manager for North America and Global gear brands for the Adventure Travel Trade Association, and an instructor of adventure tourism at Colorado State University, as well as a senior advisor at RISE Travel Institute. In our conversation, Eva and I talk about the types of experiences that may be defined as adventure travel, the connection between adventure, travel, and conservation, and the unique community we found in this segment of the industry. Love these soulful conversations? We rely on listener support to produce our podcast. You can support me in amplifying the voices of women by making a donation via PayPal. The link is in the show notes. Join me now for my soulful conversation with Eva Mossberg.
Christine: Welcome to Seoul of Travel Podcast. I am so happy today to be joined by Eva Mossberg. And we were just talking that she is a wearer of many hats, so I'm probably gonna turn it over to her to introduce herself and let us know who she is in travel and all of the areas that she is focused on right now. So welcome to the podcast.
Eva: Thank you, Christine. Um, yeah, wearer of many hats. I think that's a title that's that I've carried for a really long time, <laugh>, it's always one of those things. What's Eva doing now? Um, but all along it’s been along the theme of tourism and travel and hospitality. I am currently the partner manager for North America and global brands for the Adventure Travel Trade Association. I teach part-time at Colorado State University in their graduate certificate program in adventure tourism, which I graduated two years ago. And I also serve as a senior advisor for Rise Travel Institute, which is a nonprofit 501c3 that's focusing on education in travel.
Christine: Yeah. I love that you have that introduction. I think there's so many people in tourism, which is probably why it's one of my favorite communities. So many people that have multiple things that they're doing because they are such multi-passionate people, they find themselves supporting this thing here and supporting this here, and supporting this here. But much like you said, they all kind of fall under the umbrella of whatever it is that is most important to them in supporting, you know, sustainable development or creating positive impact for communities, or all these different ways that travel intersects with the world. I think we find ourselves showing up to try to create impact and education and community wherever we can. So, um, I really love that about the set of people that I get to engage with all of the time. And so for me, it doesn't seem unusual. And I also usually have one or two or 20 hats going at the same time as well, so I can really relate. As we begin our conversation, I would just love to give our listeners a little bit of an idea of who you are, how you found travel and where it first showed up in your life, and then how you knew that that was the space that you wanted to really focus your energy to create impact.
Eva: Well, the two memories that come to mind, one was a family vacation through Europe. I grew up in Sweden, so we went from Sweden down through Germany to visit my cousin who lived in Switzerland, my aunt and uncle and cousins. And I was maybe seven years old. And it was, you know, it was a big to do. It was a big, big trip for us. So that's the one time that sort of, I remember as in just sort of my first encounter with international tourism. And of course I thought it was super exciting, all the memories around food, around culture, around seeing different places and hearing different languages, dealing with different currencies back then, it was just really, that's one memory that stands out. And then when I really knew that this is what I wanted to do professionally was, I was 19 and I had a chance to go sailing to the West Indies and back.
Eva: And, I got to the West Indies and said, well, I don't think I wanna go back. So I stayed in Barbados for about four months and then took a job in Portugal and about a year and a half into waiting tables and basically waiting tables and just hanging on the beach, I decided that I wanted to find a way to make a living off of this. So it was just, how can I make this existence more permanent and professionalize it? So I ended up going to university for hospitality, tourism and travel, and that's how it all started.
Christine: Yeah, I think it's so interesting how so many of us really have fallen in love with the world and then kind of give our lives over to it in a way. It's just, it's so interesting. I think it's such a unique, unique industry because again, so many of us are there just because of how much we love what we've seen. Um, and I think that ties in so well with the work that you're doing, both at the Adventure Travel Trade Association, and with RISE, that it's really connecting who we are as humans, bringing in conservation and travel, like all of those pieces together. And I think we really cultivate that by traveling and understanding and seeing what's out there and what deserves our attention. Um, so I think, that's why I always think that travel is one of the most important things that people can do in their lives.
Christine: When we start looking at, or one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, in the context of bringing people from education into the realm of being professionals in the industry, I think one thing that is really important or interesting to look at is how, and this is probably relevant to other industries as well, but how do we balance bringing new students, new business, owners and entrepreneurs into the tourism industry and learning from their new ideas and innovations and balancing that with expertise. I'm sure that as you are teaching students and you've navigated that journey as well, what are some things that you've seen or that you think are really important to consider to bridge that gap?
Eva: It's really interesting because the student population is very diverse. They come from all walks of life. Some people come, you know, straight out of high school, undergrad. I have some undergrad students in my program as well as two professionals who've been in the industry for 20 years. And they can be, they can be, you know, people from other industries who've had that aha moment of like, wait, I'm gonna not be a lawyer anymore. I'm gonna start working in tourism. And I'm like, oh, have you thought of that? Really <laugh>? Um, so it's, you know, it, people come from all walks of life. So I think it's really important to keeping that in mind that, you know, people have experience from different people, bring different experiences to the table. And putting that all together is super valuable because as we know, tourism is very, very diverse.
Eva: It has lots of stakeholders, lots of definitions. It's a very broad definition when you say tourism, because we have invented or defined tourism so much more into segments that can make it quite confusing. It helps because it defines it, but it's also somewhat confusing. I feel like lately there's just been so many, so many terms for areas of tourism that really all have the same idea that tourism is a, it can be, a force for good in the world, but within that, there are now at least, I'm gonna say without exaggeration, eight subsets. And instead, I think we could, as an industry benefit from just bringing all of those subsets together and say, you know, we're all working for the same thing. It's kind of like having, you know, a football team. We're all playing on the same team. We're all trying to score that goal. And it's a bad analogy, but, you know, we're all trying to get the same results, but by fragmenting and working in silos, I think we might be doing ourselves a disservice. Because each one of these subsets, they have their own events, they have their own podcast, they have their own newsletters, and it's just I think the industry as a professional it's getting saturated.
Christine: Yeah. I think that's such an interesting point and something I've talked about before as well. And it also kind of, I think, ends up leading to a bit of burnout because then you have so many people leading their own companies, their own organizations, their own initiatives that are doing similar things, but they're doing it by themselves. Yeah. And if we were able to come together and support one another, we might be able to have a greater impact because we wouldn't be working as hard next to each other by ourselves. <laugh>.
Eva: Gotcha. Exactly.
Christine: Yeah. And I also thought that, as you were talking about the people that are in the tourism program where you work and their, the diversity of the experiences they bring into the program and then into the industry, I think that's one thing that is really also unique. You know, if you are at a conference for dentistry, like most everyone there is probably has a background in that, right? But you can be at a tourism event and you are meeting, you are talking to someone who was a lawyer, who was, um, a professional in marketing who maybe was a doctor. I mean, all these different things. And so you're having very interesting conversations for one, but you're also seeing all these things from such different perspectives. And then because travel does intersect with everything in the world, as we move through it, you're able to kind of pull all those things into pieces.
Christine: Like, again, it's just such a different and unique space that I think really does draw people who are so multi-passionate because we're able to tap into all of those things. Um, and you were talking about definitions, and I wanted to talk a little bit about, I know where you teach your program is in the Warner College of Natural Resources. And where I did my undergraduate, the tourism department was in the forestry school. And then where I did my master's degree, it was in the business school. And there's such a different way of thinking about tourism if you're thinking about it in the context of forestry conservation, natural resources versus business. And for me and where my values lie, I really, it resonated more for me from that forestry resources side. And while I appreciate my business degree, it really felt for me much more nourishing from the other side. But I'm wondering, um, if for you, you have seen a difference in that kind of focus, or why do you think that it really does fit well into the School of natural resources?
Eva: Well, if I think about it, without the natural resources, all we have would be manmade attractions, right? And even they rely somewhat on natural resources. They have to have the land to provide the space where we can build, be it, you know, an Epcot or a Disney World. So it really does all boil down to the natural resources.
Christine: Yeah, I really just, I hadn't thought about it until I saw that in that school. And I grew up in Montana, so I constantly was thinking about my outdoor environment and natural resources, and I had family that worked for the Forest Service. So like, those were all things that really were things that I was comfortable with and knew about. But in terms of tourism, I really had thought more of like travel and all inclusive hotels. And those were the kinds of things I had been introduced to, like, through media, through storytelling as a child. But I hadn't really understood. I took a tourism program in San Francisco in the late nineties. And through that program I really learned a lot about the industry, and I learned a lot about what I didn't wanna be a part of. And there was one man that came in and he was talking about adventure travel and conservation, and working with local villages and the different initiatives that he was a part of.
Christine: And I was like, wait a second. That's tourism. And that's really like what set me off on my trajectory. So I’m thinking, I think it's really valuable. Like you said, there's so many definitions, and I think different things resonate with different people, but like looking at the major objectives and then just creating one term for that objective could be helpful. Um, but to go with definitions, <laugh>, I did wanna talk about adventure tourism since that's a space that we both spend a lot of time in. What does, how does the Adventure Travel Trade Association define adventure travel?
Eva: Adventure travel is one of those misnomers, and it was like, oh, it's like bungee jumping off of Mount Kilimanjaro. It's like, well, yes, and, there's also the majority of adventure travel, which is not that. We divide it just for simplicity's sake into hard and soft of adventure. So soft adventure is, you know, hiking, trekking, cycling, really activities that most anyone can do at, you know, at a gradual level. You know, some people, so you can go in as an expert, you can go in as a beginner, but there is something, there is, it's an activity that can be accommodated for most participants. And accessibility is another topic, which is we might have to save for another day, but it's another, you know, important piece of this pie also. So hard and soft adventure, we covered that. But then also, in order for it to be adventure travel, as far as the Adventure Travel Trade Association goes you know, <laugh>, there's been a lot of thought put into it.
Eva: It’s obviously at the very core of what we do. So we define it as really as there are the three components that have to be present and it's nature, culture, and activity. And if the, the more of those, if you think of it as three circles that intersect in the middle, the more circles that connect, the deeper the experience. So if you have all three — nature, culture and activity — then you have the deeper experience. That's, that's how it's defined by the Adventure Travel Trade Association. But in my, in one of the courses that I teach is also the philosophical question, what is adventure tourism? And I think you and I could talk about that for probably the better part of two hours. So we won't do that now, but it was really, really interesting to see. And also just through some other work that I've done with, with destinations, just people's idea of adventure tourism, what that is, I mean, I've heard everything from pickleball to, um, you know, ice hockey, to just, you know, all these activities that are just, I don't mean just, but they're out, they're outdoor activities. So that really just highlights the fact that outdoor activities and adventure tourism are very, very closely intertwined. Which brings us back to why perhaps all these, courses are housed under the departments of natural resources.
Christine: Yeah. Because they're really, really focused on what you're doing outside. Although before our conversation, I just searched adventure tourism because I just was curious what would come up. And there were like indoor mountain biking tracks, and there were like the thing off the, the tower in Toronto that you clip into with the harness, and like all these things. And I was like, no wonder people have no idea what we're talking about. Or they're confused. Not that they have no idea, but there are so many definitions. And then everyone also brings their own personal experience to travel. Obviously, you can't escape that. And so then it depends on what your perspective is. And one person's comfort zone is here, and one person's is here, and one person's here. And if we are talking about adventure travel, like pushing you out of your comfort zone, then all of a sudden we can also step into all these different places of how are we serving travelers by adventure travel.
Eva: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, an adventure also is, you know, on a spectrum also.
Eva: What's adventure to me is not adventure to you and vice versa.
Christine: Yeah. I know when I started and really did want to call my company an adventure travel company, and it was because of my connection with the Adventure Travel Trade Association and the philosophies and values of that community. I was questioning myself often because I would say, okay, is this yoga retreat in Montana where we also do horseback riding? Is that really adventurous? Because those things are all, I'm really comfortable with that. But then someone from the city who's never even been to the country, who's never seen a horse like, yes, it becomes very interesting when you really think about it. But I felt like I couldn't say my brand was adventure travel if it wasn't more adrenaline driven. And I really had to walk myself through why it was important to me. And I think that is a really good place to speak about the Adventure Travel Trade Association as a community.
Christine: And I'll just share, my first experience was going to the first event in Seattle, a very long time ago, I think 20 years ago, <laugh>, or near that. And I remember going into the event and just looking around for the first moment I was volunteering during graduate school, and I was like, wherever I just landed, this is where I have been trying to get forever in my career, <laugh>. And then the conversations we were having and the way people were connecting with one another. And also then I would meet one person and they immediately became my ambassador, and they started introducing me to everybody else. And there was such a mentality of like, we will only achieve what we're after if we lift one another up. And I just really, it really spoke to me. And so I would love for you to share a little bit about the culture of that community, because I think that is really where the strength of, of what is being created lies.
Eva: Yeah. We hear that a lot from people. Every event that we have, we have, you know, a couple of signature events, the Adventure Travel World Summit and Adventure Elevate, those are two signature events. But even at the smaller events that we do, Adventure Connect and so on, we always hear people who come in and they have that same experience. And I did as well, actually. They walk in like, oh! I found my people, where have you been? Like, why? I just found my people! And they're just so elated. And that's, it's, um, I think really what, you know, what brings us all together is that belief that tourism can be a force for good in the world. And with that, I mean, we all know we all, everyone who's in the industry, we know it's, it's not about doing these trips ourselves.
Eva: It's about trying to rebook somebody who missed their flight. It's trying to fix somebody who got sick on the, on the itinerary. It's somebody, who you contracted with who didn't show up. It, it's all of those regular problems that all businesses have. They're just regular day-to-day challenges by running your own business. Who's picking up the phone? What do I do? It's just, it's a constant, it's a business. Sure it looks glorious, and we get to on occasion, go to phenomenal places, but most of the time, the tour operators, they send other people to these wonderful places, which, you know, they have been to at one point, but the majority of, of their work is really in the office. You know, working in this industry, it's not, it's not all glamor. It's actually a lot of hard work and a lot of challenges.
Eva: Lot of moving parts, flights are being delayed. I mean, we saw it a lot now with, with Covid that, you know, and, and even today, you know, it's really hard for people to hire staff. So on the service end of things, it's hard to deliver. But what brings us all together, and I echo that, that we do, it’s on a deeper level, or maybe it's just that simply that our belief is what unites us, and the idea that we are all on the same team. And I, I think one, one thing that we have accomplished, which is really kind of crazy when you think about it, is that we're able to put competitors in the same room to collaborate. And that's why people come, it's to exchange ideas or that's part why people are a part of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
Eva: They come to exchange ideas to get inspired, to foster existing relationships, but also obviously create new ones. Um, but it, it's just, I mean, I had somebody else come and say, you know, I, I go to, and most, most people, most attendees, they go to several different events. And, he just said, you know, this is the one that really rings true for me. They go to all of the other ones, and I won't mention any names, but like, you know, the, the other big ones. And, he just said, this is the one that really, really rings true to me.
Christine: Yeah. I think for people that got into the industry really to make an impact or do something different or do something unique or where, um, where it's more than a business, it's really the place that people have landed. And, for me, like I said, that was where I was like, okay, this is where I want my roots to be. And so when I was creating my brand, that's why I wanted it to be aligned with adventure travel, because I wanted that to kind of like permeate what I was creating. And so I think that's why it was so important. And that was just one thing I really wanted to convey in our conversation, because I think a lot of people may either resist, um, if they're a professional, like being aligned with this community because they will feel like, oh, I don't actually have an adventure travel brand. Or as a traveler, they might think I'm, like you said, not the bungee jumping, Kilimanjaro hiking, climbing person. So that's not for me. But I think to dispel that myth, that it really moves beyond that aspect. And so I think I would really love to welcome people into this space.
Eva: Yeah, I mean, some of the most popular itineraries include, you know, hiking and hike and bike, or bike and wine. So it, it's incorporating the food and beverage and cultural aspects of the activity, activity as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it could be a super leisurely, primarily human powered activity that takes you to, you know, a little family owned restaurant or a vineyard or, or something summer. Somebody making their own maple syrup or, you know, just to connect with the culture and the history. I think also combined knowledge in the community, and more importantly, the willingness to share is, is just, I haven't seen it any other place. And I've, I've been in, you know, different, different segments of the industry before and… I have not encountered that anywhere else, but we have WhatsApp groups where, you know, somebody has a question about needing, um, you know, a booking platform and there's immediately an answer or somebody who needs a DMC in Guatemala was this morning's topic. And there's immediately responses.
Christine: Yeah. I feel like so many of us, you know, despite maybe in other areas where you're like, you know, I, I have a leg up because I've already figured that out and failed. So that's how I got ahead of you. But I definitely don't wanna give you that insight because that's what's going to set me apart, that that's just not true. Like you said, it'd be like, oh no, you should do this, this, and this, and if this doesn't work, try this. And if this doesn't work, go ahead and try this. And here's, you know, five other resources and <laugh> and it, yeah, it's really amazing to be a part of that.
Christine: Another community that we're both, engaged in is the RISE Travel Institute. You mentioned that you're a senior advisor there. I'm currently taking their flagship program, finally, I've been wanting to do it for so long and I'm just finishing it up right now actually. And I have found it to be incredibly valuable. I would love for you to talk a little bit about what, what drew you to that and why you think that that is so important in this industry as well.
Eva: So, RISE Travel Institute, RISE stands for Responsible, Impactful, Sustainable and Ethical tourism. And that acronym really tells a lot about what it is. I came up on it actually in the middle of the pandemic. So I was as many of us in that, during that time we were, not engaging in the industry because the industry was no longer or was on pause. So I was waiting tables and, sort of looking for the end of my rope and, came across, just a volunteer position with RISE Travel Institute, and had a conversation with the founder and just thought, wow, this is really, really interesting. Cuz I also have a background in international education. So I worked for study abroad programs, I taught English as a second language, at language schools. I did inbound/outbound group tours, also language students.
Eva: So to combine all of that, I thought was a really great initiative because so many, and I would say probably, I'm gonna say all, I think everybody who has an open mind has something to learn from that program. Both you and I have been in this industry for a really long time, and I still found so many things that really made me just go, Hmm. And pause for a second and think a little bit deeper on the topic. Um, that was discussed. So the, the program is set up in, in modules, just like any, any program is. And there were several modules that I thought, I thought I kind of knew this and realized that I, not that I didn't know it, but I had so much more to learn. There was so many things. And once you unpack something, it's kind of like Pandora's box, right?
Eva: There's so many layers to it. And once you start peeling that back, it was really interesting. And then, you know, they do, so I served as their partnership manager for I think a year and a half. And then my work with the Adventure Travel Trade Association took over. So I had to step back into a role as a senior advisor. But I'm still involved in, you know, in the, in the organization. And they're growing leaps and bounds now, they do trips as well. So as you know, the [flagship program] ends with the capstone and particularly, it's geared towards the students who complete the capstone, but I believe they opened it up to other students as well, or people who are interested in the program to do these, trips as well.
Christine: Yeah. And to give our listeners a little bit of an idea, some of the classes, the course modules are talking about intentional or ethical photography, um, animal interactions and experiences, wildlife and animals. Um, really it starts at understanding where you, who you are. Like this is a very, this course doesn't let you off without some examination of self and understanding who you are in the wheel of power and the power dynamics that you bring to any travel experience, which was for me, like where Pandora's box began <laugh> and, really has you thinking for me, and it, it's geared towards travelers, but also travel professionals. But really examining like, what does it mean when I travel? What, what do I bring into this experience? How do I make this an equitable experience? Can we make this an equitable experience? Um, so like you said, really anybody, can take something away from this experience.
Christine: And, I mean, I honestly want every one of my travelers to take at least some segment of this course. I feel like it's one way that we can make travel more responsible is to have such a deeper understanding of what we bring to a travel experience. And then as travel professionals to really look at what you're creating. And if you want to create a positive impact, you actually have to start by understanding what your presence means as you travel. And I, it just, I haven't ever spent so much time like digging into that as I have in this course.
Eva: <laugh> Yeah, the spectrum, the spectrum of powers is very impactful and interesting. Um, there were so many layers to it that we <laugh> we don't have time to talk about it, but I highly encourage people who listen to this, to Google it, look it up with RISE Travel Institute. It is, it's, it's really, it blew my mind because you find yourself in so many different pieces of that spectrum, depending on your background is where you were born, your skin color, all of those things.
Christine: Yeah. And I think it's, it's just, it's very interesting too when you think about in, um, tourism too. Like for me, I always kind of share that travel for me is unwrapping the story of the destination. And through this program now, have really thought about, well, who's, who has the right to tell that story? Who should be bringing travelers to this destination? Who should we be engaging with to ensure that that is something that a destination wants? I just think, um, I think it's just conversations that we haven't had in the past. And I've had them in my mind a lot as a traveler. And, and I can remember as a young traveler being in a situation, noticing something, being like, this really feels unsettling or uncomfortable, or something is like off, but I have no words for. And through this course and through, um, reading, Dr. Anu Taranath’s book, which I read a year or so ago, I was, it just answered so many questions. I was like, okay, this was this feeling. I can go back to this story now and this experience and say, okay, you were understanding, you were witnessing a power dynamic, but you didn't have language for it. And so you just knew that something was off. And now you can reflect on that and say, okay, now I understand. And I don't know if you've had those reflections with this new like, I guess, tool to be able to understand your past travel experiences or things like that a little more.
Eva: Absolutely. I had some Facebook memories pop up from, I don't know, 10 years ago, travels 10 years ago. And, they were all these, um, it was a series of portraits and I never asked for permission to take these pictures, you know, the, the subjects of my pictures, I never ask for permission. Um, and you know, that's just one of those things that now that I'm much more mindful of.
Christine: Yeah, I think that was one that really hit home for me too. And I also feel like, because as travelers, many of us are photographers, and it's not such a, a far stretch to think about, like finding yourself on the power, the wheel of power. That's a hard one to like dive into. But travel photography, I think we can all put ourselves into that situation and like examine it a little bit easier. So I felt like I was really able to take a lot from that. And one of the things when I travel, I do try to learn to say, may I take your picture in whatever language that's been a thing. I've always tried or tried to make eye contact and like gesture to my camera, kind of like assume that we're having a conversation. And I always thought, well, that's good, right?
Christine: They know that I've given them, they've given me their permission. But then you think about, like you said, this picture now popped up on Facebook, so it lives there. And did they know that it lives there? Are they in a culture that even could understand the internet existed when you took the picture? And 10 years ago that might not have been the case. It may be more common now, but yeah, it was, it's just been so interesting to be able to, to really explore all of those things. And I, I can't speak highly enough about what this program offers.
Eva: Travel, travel really is a privilege. And I don't think a lot of people think of it as that. I mean, many countries, they, their residents don't even have passports. They can't leave their own country. Many people leave, but they're forced to leave. So it's not travel for them. I mean, that's called immigration and um, or refugees. Um, so traveling really is a privilege. And I think what it takes, I think what helps me explain what help, what helps me think about it, but also explain it to others, is just put yourself in the other person's shoes. What if you were in their shoes and you had these people come and, you know, take pictures or ask you crazy questions or, you know, and part of it's curiosity, right? So it, it may very well be innocent, but um, you know, it may not. If 10 people ask you that in the same day, you're like, okay, enough now. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think just putting yourself in the shoes of, of the place that you visit is really, really important. And, um, you know, take into their culture and, and assimilate into their culture.
Christine: Yeah, I think just on acknowledging that it is a privilege is such a great place to start. Because I think, like you said, especially in Western cultures, it's this thing we just work towards. It’s like this pinnacle of success or this, you know, level of respect by saying, you know, all these vacations that you can take are where you went when, and it's also focused on yourself and not really on where you're going. And my daughters and I are getting ready to travel for a year and I was thinking I was challenging myself. I'm like, we could literally go anywhere in the world, but what if we only went somewhere where we could be invited? Like where we know someone who is hosting us or someone who has specifically said, we would love for you to come to this destination. So that like one, there's already a place for us there and, and we are traveling there as someone who's been invited into that community. And not saying that eliminates all these other areas, but for me, that felt like at least a way to narrow down where to go. One tool that I could put into practice. And then from there, like looking at all these other pieces and saying, okay, so that's where we're going, but how can we now even make it more impactful and responsible?
Eva: I've always said that travel is a mindset because I don't think the experience can necessarily be measured. It doesn't necessarily exponential, exponentially get greater the further you go, it's almost the opposite. It gets greater the more inside you go. So I've been a proponent of local tourism, domestic tourism for a really long time. I've never really understood why is it that we only count the trips that we take that are, you know, miles and miles and miles away. That's that's vacation, right? Or that's travel.
Eva: <affirmative> travel, let's just call it travel. Um, whereas if you, if you go just to, to the next town over, or I had to, I was driving down to New York for a business trip or for one of the conferences and you know, my boss and I, we were driving down and we just decided to drive until we wanted to stop sort of like an hour, hour and a half outside the city, stayed the night and then drive in the morning. And we ended up in some, it wasn't even Stanford, it was like a smaller town in Connecticut. And when I left I'm like, I really wanna come back here. This is a really nice place. This is a cool place. Like, I would've never dreamed of going to this in my mind at the time, no name City in Connecticut, just off the highway.
Eva: We just ended up there because it was a ho there was a hotel that was convenient, it worked into our travel schedule and that's how we ended up there. But it's, it's just that mindset of like, wow, this is different. Or when you walk around in your own little town and you know, you stop and you pause for a second, do you look at the church? You might even go in the church and like, wow, these windows are beautiful. You do that every time you go overseas. I do anyway without fail mm-hmm. [Every] beautiful church. I go inside and I marvel at all the detailed carvings and all of that stuff. And it's just, it's such a lost opportunity to, you know, when you're just in your busy body life, running around town and just to pause is really just to, to make, to make experiences as you go along, as you go along in life. And it doesn't have to be 3000 miles away.
Christine: Yeah. I think that's such a powerful thing for people to think about. And that was, obviously something I was focusing a lot on during the pandemic is what, what do we get out of travel and who are we when we travel that's so powerful, and how can we bring that back into our daily life? And that's some of the examples I would give is like, just, you know, if you walk in your commute, walk a different way or drive a different way or go to this, a neighborhood in your town you've never been and pay attention. Like go there as if you traveled there, because you don't have to go somewhere far away to have that experience and then engage with people as if you traveled there.
Christine: Because if we go out to eat in our hometown, we're just, you know, like telling, you know, if you have children or whatever, you're like, okay, just order that. What is this? It's all hectic and chaos, and if you were at the same restaurant somewhere else, you'd be like, look what's so interesting on the menu and look at the artwork and, you know, you would communicate with your waiter and be present. And it's just so interesting how we don't give ourselves permission to do that in our daily experiences. I think that's a great way for people to, to to begin to just kind of pull some of these pieces into action. And, and also even some of the things that you talk about with in the RISE program too, looking at the way that these things show up in our life. Like it's not meant to just live in the, the realm of travel, which was another thing I really wanted to talk to you about is how we then bring that personal awareness. Because I think something, like I mentioned with RISE, like you're not getting through the RISE program without doing some personal excavation <laugh>, but how do we then bring that personal awareness into our business? And how do we kind of integrate those two pieces once we have this personal awareness? Like how do we bring that the values through?
Eva: I think educating the traveler is, is an area of our industry that's really overlooked. it's a missed opportunity. And I, I don't have the answer on like, how to make that happen other than, you know, recommending books. I think that's always sort of, that's always happened. Like if you travel to France, this is a great book to read on on France, but to, to take that one step further, um, I think, I mean, it helps everybody because it helps the traveler and it also helps the operator because a more educated consumer, whether they're buying groceries or going to a different country, it sets you up for success in a different way where the expectations are more aligned. And as we know, expectations is always, that's always the nut that we all try all try to crack. So I think by setting expectations and teaching them some of them, or giving them the opportunity to learn, I should say, some of those nuances or stark differences, um, before they, before they travel, I think is really, really important. And, um, you know, that’s I feel the void that RISE Travel Institute really have filled.
Christine: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. And I think that it serves the the traveler and the operator, but also so much the destination because I think, um, so many destinations just are presented or explored on a superficial level by travelers. And there's always obviously so much more to uncover. But because as travelers, that's all we're ready to experience, it's all we can get to. And if we do a little prep ahead of time and we start learning more, digging deeper, um, taking like, whatever, kind of going back to that like multi-passionate person picking what is your thing that you're singularly most passionate about, for me, that will always be looking at gender equity in a country and understand it there. And if yours is, you know, whatever yours is, if it's music, if it's art, if it's food, if it's conservation, like just pick your favorite thing and understand it where you're going and that gives you a little bit more of an in depth look. And then when you get there, it also allows you to dig in more because you've already created a less superficial connection that you're open to deeper engagement. So I think that when you're looking at education in the context of travel, I feel like that for me is what is really important as well.
Eva: Yeah, no, thanks for bringing that up. Because the destination, as I think of it, it, you know, visitors who come to a destination should benefit the destination, just like the, the number one beneficiary should be the destination. They open their borders, their arms and welcome the traveler. They're welcoming other people into their culture, to their land, to the resources. And, I think again, it all goes back to, you know, it, it should be a benefit. It should be a, a force for good. And if it isn't as it is in so many places, um, in so many different ways, it's, it's, it's really difficult to, to find that equation or to find the equation that works, but to, to have the intention to do so, I think is really all we can ask of ourselves to, to truly and genuinely go in with the intention to travel, to be a force of the good, to force, to be a force, to be a force, um, for good in the world should really be the intent. When we travel, it shouldn't be a bucket list. And I don't like, I don't like to use the word should, but you know, it, it brings about a deeper, deeper, deeper me meaning and experience as well. Um, I, I look at travel as a win-win as a win-win experience.
Christine: Yeah. I agree that it feels like, like you said, that it needs to be equal exchange. And as you were talking, I was kind of thinking as you know, a destination does open its arms to you, whether you realize it or not, depending on where your level of exposure is to these concepts. But you, I kind of imagine like, you wouldn't go into someone's home without knowing whose home it was, and you wouldn't go to the kitchen and use resources without understanding where they came from and where they're, you know, how they're going to be regenerated. And I just think that it, in the past, we just haven't examined that relationship. And, um, I think it's just so important now as travelers to just begin to ask questions. And like you said, you know, we just need to at least start by setting the intention to do good asking questions. Just it, not every one of us has to have a PhD in Ethical Travel in order to travel, but just get curious, do it from your place of curiosity and, and move forward and you'll start to grow because you then that will kind of, in a good way open Pandora's box for you to understanding and pulling different things into your travel experiences. Yeah.
Christine: Well, before we end our conversation I would love for you just to share if people are interested in, um, being a part of the Adventure Travel Trade Association or RISE Travel Institute, how would you recommend that they go about doing that?
Eva: Well, for the Adventure Travel Trade Association, anyone can join. We have a free community membership, so it's absolutely free to join, you get our newsletters and, um, you know, stay abreast of what, what we're up to, what our members are up to, what the industry is up to and, and the community, how it all ties together. And that's just by going to the website, AdventureTravel.biz. For RISE Travel Institute, same thing. I recommend going to the website. We also have a newsletter that you can sign up for. And the website for RISE Travel Institute is risetravelinstitute.org. And start, you know, start poking around and see what you find that speaks to you. RISE has a number of different courses that you can, you know, you can select, I highly recommend the flagship. It's really, it's an overarching course that touches on a lot of different, very interesting and fundamental fundamental things. Adventure Travel Trade association, if you are in the industry and, you, you know, you wanna have more involvement with the organization, there are different levels of membership there as well, but I would definitely for anybody just start by signing up for the free membership to, to get a taste of it.
Christine: Yeah. And I, I would obviously really, encourage people listening to do that as well, because I have found such a home and such a place of learning in both spaces, and I'm so grateful for the work that, that everyone is doing to create those spaces. To end the call, I have a few rapid fire, rapid fire ish questions for our listeners to get to know you a little bit more as a traveler. The first one is, what are you reading right now?
Eva: I am reading a really interesting book. It's called HeLa, and it is about, it’s the woman who they found, created, generated cells, cancer cells that lived on, so basically all these HeLa cells, it's the, I think her name, her first name was Helen, and the last name begins with La — I forget the, I forget her name, but it goes back, I don't know, maybe, not a century, but a fair number of years, um, to essentially the, the beginning of the research around cancer research and reproduction. I picked up in a little library that we have around town. We have these little pop-up libraries. People can make little box and put books in there.
Christine: I love those. Those are my very favorite thing and one of my very favorite things about traveling that I don't know if still exists, but would be the book exchange boxes that you can find and change things as you're traveling through. What is always in your suitcase when you travel?
Eva: The obvious passport? <laugh>
Christine: Yeah. <laugh>
Eva: Well, two passports, actually. It's always good to have a second one. I have a dual nationality, so it's always one of those things like, you never know. No, but seriously, what do I always bring? Um, I don't know that I have you know, I do have something that's in there that I never take out, um, that I forgot that I have. It's a champagne cork with a coin in it, and it is a good luck omen.
Christine: Hmm. That's lovely. No one has ever shared anything like that before. I like that. To Sojourn means to travel somewhere for a short while as if you lived there. Where would you like to sojourn?
Eva: Where would I like to sojourn, like to sojourn in my daily life more and more.
Christine: Hmm. That's a really good goal. <laugh> What do you eat that immediately connects you to a place that you've been?
Eva: That's a tough one too. <laugh>. I mean, I grew up in Sweden, so anything that's Swedish is definitely, you know, around this time of year we make saffron bread. They're, um, basically sticky buns that are shaped in different shapes that are formed in different shapes. Um, that brings me to Sweden, of course. Another one is sardine paste from when I lived in Portugal. They put that on the table instead of olive oil or, or butter, and it's delicious.
Christine: I've never had that, but that sounds amazing. Um, who's the person that encouraged you to set out and explore the world?
Eva: I would say my grandfather did in indirectly because he, when he passed away, he had set aside an inheritance, and that is what fueled my trip to go sailing.
Christine: Hmm. That's an amazing gift.
Eva: But my parents are with me every step of the way. They live vicariously through me. They always have. They look it up on Google, they're like, oh, what country are you in now? Where are you? And then like, they zoom in on Google Maps. It's really, it's really fun.
Christine: <laugh>. If you could take an adventure with one person, fictional or real alive or past, who would it be?
Eva: Well, my nickname is, has been or is, I don't know if it carries with you, but it, when I think of traveling just like that, I think of Tinkerbell.
Eva: Yes, I would take Peter Pan.
Christine: Yeah, that would be great. Then you would have lots of joy and play in your travel.
Eva: Person as a real person? I would take my fiance.
Christine: Oh, <laugh>
Christine: I'd be glad to know that it's, you know, either Peter Pan or <laugh>
Christine: The last one, Soul of Travel is really honored to be able to recognize women in the travel industry. Who is one woman that you admire or would love to recognize in this space?
Eva: I'm going to put that on Dr. Vinci Ho, who's the founder of RISE Travel Institute. I think she's taken a huge leap of faith in creating something that is really is unique, um, and just poured herself into it.
Christine: Yeah. Thank you. Much also, much love to her from my side of this Zoom call as well. And for people listening, they can always go back and listen to my conversation, with Vinci to, to learn more about RISE as well. Um, so thank you so much for joining me for this conversation and walking through all of these buckets of conversation with me today. I really, um, am grateful for your time and your expertise.
Eva: Thank you. Thanks for having me.