When I think of the best trips of my life, moments from each come to my mind in specific snapshots. I do this on purpose; in special moments, I’ll do a little sensory check-in, feeling what my feet are touching, how my skin feels, what I taste, little details of what I see, what sounds are passing by my ears. That’s how I can still vividly recall lazily floating in the ocean, the warm sea holding me as I tasted the last drops of fresh coconut water on my yoga retreat in Costa Rica. I can smell the pine needles under our tent in central Wisconsin on my first camping trip with my boyfriend. I can still see a hummingbird breathing at the speed of a fast-beating heart in its cocoon-like nest in the Amazon.
Especially since it was just two weeks ago, I can also still hear the trumpet of a teenage male elephant as he ran toward my family in a “mock charge.” My parents and I were on a safari—definitely among the very coolest weeks-and-a-half of my life—and “mock peed our pants.”
Check out a few of my favorite snapshots from my family’s trip to southern Zimbabwe and northern Botswana. Which are your favorites? Please share in the comments—I might even enter some of these into a photo contest to win my way back to Botswana! (I thought that trip would be once-in-a-lifetime, but I really, really hope I’m wrong.)
PS: If you’d like any of my photos for your own use—hello desktop backgrounds—please ask first. Include your email, and I’ll do my best to send photos promptly.
[ellie on the move] Continue reading
“If you want to change the world, take something powerful and nudge it.”
I’ve seen this quote attributed to a few people—but no matter who said it, that’s what Christina Taddy and Jacob Taddy are doing.
Jacob and Christina are working on transforming the travel industry with living wages, alleviating poverty—so they hope these businesses will eventually not need them and they can move on to other locations, other countries. “We want to call and hear, ‘Well, we’re booked…’,” Christina says.
This brother-sister pair and I shared a table at Colectivo (Kate’s favorite coffee shop in Milwaukee) to talk about Onwards, the nonprofit the two built together. Onwards uses tourism to address global poverty, beginning in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Onwards breaks the seemingly insurmountable challenge of alleviating poverty into three parts that make a pretty phenomenal model: They offer microfinance services, training, and ultimately revenue for the businesses they invest in. Their lending model gives lower-interest-rate loans and only accepts repayments when Onwards provides business via trips they plan. “With our first loan recipient, Raquel, we booked two nights with a couple dozen people and a few staff trips. She’s paid back $450 of her $950 loan so far,” Jacob says—and that’s only from a portion of her proceeds. “This lending model shares the responsibility but takes the risk off the vulnerable, more impoverished entrepreneur.” Onwards has only been around for a little over a year, and they’ve already given two loans, planned two trips, and are about to host four launch parties across the country. These two were just the inspiration I need lately—they waste no time. Continue reading
Is that confetti in my Corona?! Here, my mom and I are at Carnival in Viareggio, Italy.
Talking to Brooke, to Cristina, to Jon-Girl and more, Kate and I have had the opportunities to meet truly amazing yet incredibly down-to-earth women. They’re inspiring, empowering, realistic and sharp—and as we talked the other day about how fun People with Panache has made our lives, we realized that journey began long ago. Continue reading