The Travelers Blueprint, Kristin McKean, The Elephant Project, Africa, Thailand Mikumi National Park

TTB 050: The Elephant Project

Show Notes

After seeing elephants being abused in Thailand, Kristina was given the motivation to start The Elephant Project in order to help raise funds for elephants and create awareness for the well being of the species. Kristina now donates 100% of the net profit from her sales of stuffed elephant toys to organizations globally that rescue and care for injured, abused and orphaned elephants.Some of the organizations that Kristina contributes to are; the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, elephants in Burma, and the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. 

Inside the Episode:   

  • Kristina works with organizations in Thailand, Africa, India, Burma, and even the US that focus on the health and well being of elephants. What started out as a side project to raise awareness of the suffering of this species quickly transformed into a full time job. Now - Kristina's proceeds go directly into supporting ethical tourism as it relates to elephants around the world. 
  • Have you heard of the crush box? A literal soul crushing experience for elephants who are being abused as part of the elephant riding industry in Thailand. This is the exact type of practice Kristina is attempting to erase from this world.
  • Ivory for medicinal purposes. Trophy hunting. Captivity for human enjoyment. Sitting far away in the United States you can feel helpless in your ability to end these cruel practices towards elephants (or any animal) on the other side of the world. BUT, you can help by doing something as simple as buying a stuffed animal. You can help move the project one more step in the right direction and lend a hand in the salvation of elephants in captivity. 
  • With the power of assembly through social media we are seeing younger generations connect on major environmental issues like never before. From understanding the plastic crisis in our planet’s oceans to putting a stranglehold on animal abuse, we are noticing a shift in conservation by teenagers surrounded by rhetoric on environmental disaster. The right to have clean air, water, and a healthy ecosystem is a battle that may never end, but there are those of us that will be fighting for that right as long as we can. 
  • Meet Kiki! When Kiki or Tembo is purchased through, 100% of net proceeds go to various organizations that help aid in fighting the poaching crisis and also provide care to injured, abandoned, orphaned, and abused elephants. 
  • No more elephant riding in Thailand!!! Seriously, don't do it. These animals are abused, beaten, and neglected in order to get them to obey and fear humans. Instead, do your research on elephant sanctuaries like the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. This way you can still fulfill your dreams of seeing these animals while knowing your money is supporting the health of the species.
  • One of the organizations Kristina contributes to is right here in the USA! If you’re close enough to or in Tennessee you can check out The Elephant Sanctuary which provides homes and rehabilitation to elephants abused from performance or exhibition in zoos and circuses. 
  • As Kristina says, “You have to have courage to not be discouraged.” If you’re reading this, chances are you’re the type of person who wants to see a more sustainable future for the planet. Just like Kristina did a few years ago - know that you are just as capable in taking your own steps to make the difference you want to see in this world.
  • There is actually an easy way to tell the difference between the African and Asian elephant. It’s in the ears. African Elephants have large shaped ears (just like the continent of Africa) compared to their Asian counterpart.

Iceland, GJ Travel, The Travelers Blueprint, Greenland, Tourism, Podcast, Summer, Winter

TTB 049: Traveling to Iceland with GJ Travel

Show Notes

Gregory fell in love with Iceland as a teenager through its history and literature 13 years ago as a young student. The beauty of the country took over and drew him into the tourism industry when he realized that his teaching would impact the experience of tourists in the magnificent Icelandic landscape. Gregory now designs tours for the Sales Department for GJ Travel, coming up with exciting trips likely to attract guests from all over the world: themed tours, cultural and relaxing tours, Northern Lights and Midnight tours and highland and off-the-beaten track tours. 

Inside the Episode:   

  • Gregory starts us off with what makes Iceland one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world - the National Parks. Iceland has three of them, Þingvellir, Snæfellsjökull, and Vatnajökull National Park (don’t ask us to pronounce them). 
  • The Northern Lights are one of the biggest draws for the estimated 4.4 million plus tourists to Iceland each year. But you can’t see this natural spectacle from any location and the time of year for viewing varies. Gregory explains the the best time to witness this natural light show
  • Traveling to Iceland in August? Get ready for a sun set around 1:20am and a sunrise shortly after around 1:50am. No worries - all the more time to take in the beautiful sights! 
  • Smelling eggs on your hike? Chances are you’re near a natural hot spring. But travelers be warned - some of these springs are HOT and serious caution should be considered when dipping your toes in without proper knowledge or guidance of these Icelandic wanders.
  • The Blue Lagoon - The iconic milky-blue spa marketed across Iceland as having skin healing properties. But, did you know this pool was man made? Or that it costs about $70 USD to take a dip? Well you do now!
  • Reykjavik is a beautiful city, the capital of Iceland and full of unique cuisine and architecture. Whether you sign up for a tour with @gjtravel.iceland or wander the streets on your own, you will likely end up at The Old Town Harbor - one of the most beautiful sites in this great country. 
  • Pickled shark or sheep's head? That’s what's for dinner. Although an old Pagan tradition, you can still find restaurants serving these dishes throughout Reykjavik. 
  • When American astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, needed to prepare for their moon landing in the late 1960’s they went to Iceland for training. Gregory still takes people along the same route these famous astronauts experienced generations ago and you can book a tour with them and relive the history too! Gregory tells us that some of the research conducted by these Astronauts uncovered several of the safest and best routes for traversing the Icelandic countryside that are still in use today. 

When you want to read a lot, but books are too heavy

Garth Hovell, Private Guide Wordwide, The Travelers Blueprint, Podcast, Africa, Tourism, Mt. Everest

TTB 048: Private Guide Worldwide

Show Notes

Garth Hovell is an international travel specialist and private guide who escorts high net worth individuals and their families on adventure holidays focusing on wildlife and ancient cultures ensuring a safe, inspirational journey of a lifetime.Garth Hovell was born in 1975 in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, and he was raised in Botswana where his passion for adventure, travel, wildlife, and ancient cultures flourished. Since beginning his guiding career, Garth has acquired many of sub-Saharan Africa’s toughest guiding qualifications. 

Inside the Episode:  

  • Garth has been a private guide for ultra high net worth individuals and their families focusing on pre-colonial cultures and wildlife. He aims to educate the people he guides in some of the most remote regions of Planet Earth!
  • Garth plans his travel around the Four Pillars of Guiding - guest safety, guest needs, guest enjoyment, and guest education. Garth’s ultimate goal is to leave his guests with a renown perception of the culture and environment they encountered.
  • Staying ahead of the travel trends - who isn't on board with that? Garth has a keen sense of where the trends seem to be heading and plans his guides accordingly. On top of that, Garth has to consider the logistics for guiding the luxurious expectations of his clientele to locations that well...aren’t always luxurious.
  • Garth needs to do whatever it takes to get his guest to their requested location. As he states. Garth has learned to identify the trends of each species or animal and that's one of the many things he brings to his guests on their experiences. A skill he has honed in through years of experience observing some of Earth’s most reclusive wildlife. 
  • In his quest to learn and grow within the luxury travel market Garth has traveled to some of the most remote areas in the world and run some of the most challenging of luxury operations. From private islands off the Panamanian coast to trend setting safari lodges in Africa, India and Northern Russia. 
  • In his capacity as a private guide Garth has lead exclusive adventures for members of various royal families, A-listers and other high net worth individuals to unique destinations from Australia to Zambia and most places in between and so is accustomed to the high standards needed to achieve a safe, flawless and memorable experience. 
  • Garth provides an incredibly intimate experience with close-knit groups typically consisting of fathers and sons or groups of friends.
  • It’s no surprise that Garth had some incredible stories to tell from years of adventure. From saving someone from the ONLY car in a very remote desert to bringing people to close encounters with wild animals. It’s all in a day's work and made for an incredible podcast!

Mykonos, Chase Angle, The Travelers Blueprint, LGBTQ, Pride, Gay, Logistics, London, Sunset, Awards

TTB 047: Traveling with Pride

Show Notes

Chase Angle is an avid travel that works a steady job like many of us aspiring world nomads. This episode focuses on logistics (international vs intra-national travelling, lodging, and safety), finances, and advice on travelling as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. At the end of our talk Chase tells us some fantastic personal stories from an award ceremony in England to a small island in Greece. 

Inside the Episode:  

  • Do you have the urge to travel more but can’t quite find the time to take off from work? Yea, join the club. Fortunately, Chase has figured out a pretty great system, as he explains in our conversation this week on how he manages to go on multiple vacations every year by accruing “comp” time. 
  • Travel budgeting starts with your flights and lodging. Programs like Scott's Cheap Flights will update you with daily flight deals around the world departing from your local airport. There is a catch with these platforms, it is contingent on you having flexibility on dates or a location. Have you ever used a program like this to book your travel? 
  • Accommodating large groups while traveling can be daunting and exhausting! You have beach bums, explorers, and day drinkers. When you’re traveling with 10 or more people, it might be a good idea to come up with a plan, just as Chase does when he's ready to hit the road. We cover allll the planning on our newest podcast! 
  • You only have one life in which to do everything you'll ever do. Plan accordingly.  Chase likes to make a point to plan around specific events that he may not get to enjoy otherwise. Like he says, “Big Ben will always be there”, but location specific parties, concerts, or events may be your only opportunity at that experience. 
  • The unfortunate reality of the world we live in is that some cultures are just not accepting of everyone. Being a member of the LGBT, Chase has to do his research on the country and culture he plans to visit. This can be as simple as checking out the CDC website, something every traveler should do prior to leaving the US. 
  • We covered a ton on this episode! From budgeting to planning, Chase really gave us some great information that even we (huge travel planners) found really useful. After we got through the travel logistics, shared some of his favorite times abroad. Let’s just say...they were happy times. 
  • Chase’s favorite city? Amsterdam...Just watch out for the bikes!
  • As Chase tells us “More often than not people are more accepting than they are not accepting to people that are different than them” Chase learned on his travels that people are typically more the same than they are different. We are all just living in our worlds - seeking our own unique pursuit of happiness!


Montana, Couchsurfing, Orange Acres, The Travelers Blueprint, Jeffrey James Halvorson, Travel

TTB 046: couchsurfing orange acres

Show Notes

Jefferey James is the owner and founder of Orange Acres Commune in Missoula, Montana. In his words, “Orange Acres is about helping veterans, at risk and financially disadvantaged young adults, native american tribal members, artists, actors and actresses, musicians, foreigners, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps,  military, retired military, sea shepherds, builders, engineers, pioneers and explorers,  travelers chasing their dreams on a tight budget. Some guests are broke and starting over in life, some need friends and family and spiritual support in a drug and alcohol free environment, and some just need to get away from the worries of the world.” 

Inside the Episode:  

  • Jeffery James starts us off with some history on how he created one of the most highly reviewed Couchsurfing hangout - available in Missoula, Montana. With livestock, fresh fruit, and plenty of cabins, Jeffery James now accommodates travelers from around the world - some living the nomadic lifestyle, and others looking for an escape from the fast paced action of urban society.
  • The Orange Acres Commune in Missoula Montana is about the friendships. Jefferey James’ primary motivation for running this homestead is simply to help. He is looking to provide an environment that creates lasting friendships. If you’re making your way through the US, we highly recommend you drop your bags for a least one night at Orange Acres. 
  • There was a lot of controversy surrounding Orange Acres. Housing requirements and government restrictions have created constant obstacles for Jeffery James, who has hurdled everything thrown at him in order to provide this safe haven for backpackers, globe trotters, and wanderers. 
  • “Danger! Reality Ahead” When people live simplistically on Orange Acres they tend to walk away with a reconstructed perspective on the world they occupy. There is something inherently valuable about falling back to a simplistic lifestyle. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the tech-packed culture we are now all involved in, know that there is a place for you to unpack your thoughts; it’s Orange Acres. 
  • You’re not the only one who undergoes a personality change when visiting Orange Acres. Jeffery James does what he does because he cares about his fellow human beings. He’s offering a human experience in its rarest form. The opportunity to talk, understand, and listen. More than anything else, Orange Acres creates friendships. 
  • Have you ever had a conversation with a complete stranger while traveling that has changed your life forever? Some of these encounters abroad can have lasting impacts on your psyche. Forever altering the trajectory of your life. Orange Acres thrives on these encounters. A place where people almost instantly go from strangers to family!
  • Picture this - You’re sitting around a warm fire. The backdrop of the Montana mountain range is seemingly an arms reach away. You are miles away from the sound of traffic, cell service, and any real responsibility. You are taking a break at Orange Acres in Montana. Life is good. 
  • If you’re backpacking the good ol’ US of A you should probably head down for a pit stop at Orange Acres Commune in Missoula MT. A safe haven for like minded people, you will not only get the rest you need (and deserve) but could also walk away with new travel opportunities and lifelong partnerships. Jeffery James has created something great for his fellow travelers. When you see him, be sure to give a big hello from your favorite podcast hosts! 

Travis Zane, Mindfulness, Voluntourism, The Travelers Blueprint, Myanmar, New York City, Work Away


Show Notes

This week we talk with Travis Zane. Travis is a multimedia creative focused on creating insightful photo editorials, videos, essays, and travel guides. His content pairs lifestyle and travel photography with thoughtful words, encouraging audiences to embody mindfulness, exhibit compassion, and discover the simple and profound beauty life has to offer. 

Inside the Episode:  

  • What is mindfulness? It can be as simple as being aware of yourself and surroundings. Where do you fit into this crazy world? How did you get to the position you’re in? Travis (@travis_zane) breaks down a few ways you can be more mindful, making the best out of your life! 
  • “Voluntourism” has become a buzzword. What is it and how can you pick a program that fits your skill level. Ultimately you want to find a program that fits your skill set in order to give back or make a change within your realm of abilities. 
  • If you’re interested in Voluntourism you need to do your research. Some westerners are getting a bad rap for traveling to Southeast Asia or Africa with good intentions but ultimately don’t contribute the way they had planned. It’s easy to get lost in the tons of organization offering these types of experiences. Good research is key! 
  • If you’re interested in volunteering abroad it's a good tip to keep actions in mind that involve teaching. Some good ideas include teaching agricultural practices, medical procedures, and infrastructure design/construction. Think about how you can leave an impact not only to the current locals but also future generations!
  • A majority of the volunteering Travis (@travis_zane) is a big fan of @workaway, a company that allows you “learn, teach, and share skills.” You can essentially work your way around the world. Truly immersing yourself in the culture and surrounding yourself with the people of the land. 
  • You may not know this, but you can feel a “sense of community” anywhere. Satisfy your craving to see the world by visiting forgien communities with a helping hand. Travis (@travis_zane) expresses his desire to travel more consciously - motivated by his need to learn and give back. 
  • Volunteer for the cause, not the destination! When picking a way to volunteer abroad your first thought should be around the skills you possess and how you can contribute them to someone else. Once you figure that out, then select your destination. 
  • The melting pot. A city with close to 1,000 languages spoken by its 8.6 million diverse occupants. A smorgasbord of culture, global influence, and street dogs. 
  • A creative investigation on the human experience. Revolukin, a magazine Travis (travis_zane) is working to create - “an inspirational guide book for people to want to be a more wholesome, holistic human”. His vision for the magazine is admirable and we are looking forward to its release. You can contribute to his cause by clicking the link on his IG Page @revolukin.

Contact Info:

Personal Creative

Magazine (Launching July 2019)

You can Donate to his Kickstarter Fund Here: 

Baby Can Travel, Family Can Travel, The Travelers Blueprint, Celine Brewer, Valle De Bravo, Mexico

TTB 044: Baby Can Travel

Show Notes

Prior to having kids, Celine took a year off work to travel the world.  She and her husband knew that when they returned they would spend the rest of their lives trying to travel as much as they could.  Having a passion and being just a little stubborn, Celine and her husband knew wouldn’t wouldn’t stop traveling into parenthood and made a promise to each other that they would find a way to keep seeing the world. After their kids were born, they quickly realized how different travelling with a baby and kids would be.  As Celine spent hours researching her many, many concerns, she found information that was either scattered or limited online. This brought Celine to write travel guides specifically for parents travelling with a baby to some of the worlds’ top cities. Celine continues to try to inspire new parents to keep travelling after having a baby.  As Celine puts it, “If you are considering a trip with your baby, we congratulate you and invite you to explore the information within our website and in our travel guides.” 

Inside the Episode:  

  • Babies can travel! We talk with Celine about the additional planning involved when traveling with an infant or toddler. Don’t be deterred, because not only can it be done, but people around the world are already doing it. Thankfully Celine unpacks all of the ways to make this new feat easier for all of us. 
  • One of the more daunting tasks of traveling with an infant is deciding what to pack on your carry on bag for your child. Worry no more! Celine breaks some of the items to bring on the plane, but more importantly some surprising items you should leave at home!
  • Strollers, car seats, and baby carriers..OH MY! Which vital piece of travel equipment is ideal for your family? Do you buy or rent? Do you like to walk a lot or will you be taking taxis? Well...thanks to Celine of Baby Can Travel we have a few of these questions answered. 
  • From Thailand to Italy, Celine spent her years as a new mother figuring out the best way to bring her kids along on her travels without slowing down. Sometimes that requires you to adapt to the transportation options available within the country you’re visiting. 
  • Staying active with a newborn can be challenging. Fear not, fellow adventurers! Celine of Family Can Travel provided awesome advice on which backpack carriers to buy and ways to keep moving with your little one. Climb the steps of Positano, baby in stow and work off those pasta dishes while showing your child the world!
  • Sometimes you just can’t see it all. Traveling with small children can require you to swap out some of the sights you wanted to see for down time at a playground. It’s an adjustment, but with the right amount of planning your trip can be as seamless as it ever was!
  • People are SOOO much nicer when you’re traveling with small children! As Celine puts it, “It’s nice to be reminded of the wonderful people in the world...there always is somebody who makes a point of talking to you or offering to help out”. 
  • Start early!! “Don’t wait until your kids are too old to where you are too intimidated to go because you've never done it.” Sound advice from Celine of Baby Can Travel. We will be taking that advice and running (or flying) with it!



TTB 043: archeological exploration in cambodia

Show Notes

Dr. Sarah Klassen is the co-director of the Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative (CALI). In recent years, imagery from two lidar acquisitions were used to map seven previously concealed and undocumented dense urban landscapes surrounded by much lower density peripheries in medieval Cambodia (9th – 14th centuries CE). The revelation of these urban areas suggests that a complex web of agricultural and occupation spaces linking more densely inhabited urban nuclei may have been a ubiquitous, defining feature of Khmer landscapes. Dr. Klassen’s research contributes to interdisciplinary dialogues of urbanism, resilience, and water management by providing empirical evidence of the resilience of these cities over the long-term. 

Inside the Episode:  

  • Dr. Klassen tells us about her initial inspiration for pursuing a field in archaeology! What started as time teaching English abroad evolved into a career studying some of the most fascinating archaeological sites in the world!
  • Her work has focused on the Khmer Empire in Cambodia, and we discuss the transition of power from Angkor Wat to Koh Ker. We get insight on the history of this vast Empire their ability to erect the largest religious temple in the world!
  • We break down the massive construction of Angkor Wat and the numerous other temples in the region. Dr. Klassen paints a picture of the spectacular engineering work that went into the construction of the temples during the 12th Century (the same time as the Middle Ages in Europe).
  • Cambodia endured a brutal civil war in the 1970’s that restricted tourism and researchers for quite some time. Now, with a flourishing tourism industry Cambodia has evolved into a centerpiece for curious travelers and researchers alike. The newly established tourism industry can provide a more personal experience (let's say compared to somewhere like Machu Picchu which can be overrun with eager tourists). 
  • Are you familiar with LIDAR? Light Detection And Ranging is becoming widely used in archaeology by beaming light pulses through the tree canopy to develop a high resolution elevation model to identify any man made mounds, temples, or any other indications of past civilizations. 
  • Dr. Klassen breaks down her research on the fascinating water management project undertaken by the Koh Kher empire that would have been the largest man-made body of water established in the Angkor Region. It would have provided a spectacular view for anyone entering the city. 

Alexander Porter, Panama, Inked and Abroad, The Travelers Blueprint, Ocean, Travel, Cancer, {odcast

TTB 042: Inked and Abroad

Show Notes

Alex got Leukemia a week before Christmas. As he explains in this episode, 

“Getting told you have cancer is hard. Going through the treatment might be even harder. Getting back to life once it’s all said and done, that might be the hardest thing of all. But travel has always made me feel free. Made me feel alive. And the stories it gave to me, well they weren’t always the type of things I’d tell my Mum. Then again, every corner of the world offered chances for me to heal. With every journey slowly putting me back together after my Leukemia diagnosis split my soul into a million pieces. There’s a lot of cool sh*t in the world. I once found a squirrel inside a garbage bin in Washington DC. That’s a bad example. But the point remains, I feel alive when I’m traveling. So that’s what I do. I’m a storyteller. A tattooed traveler and teller of tales. Whether I’m getting tattoos. Doing something I’m proud of. Or something I should confess. I’m no longer a cancer sufferer. And I’m more than a cancer survivor. I am…Inked and Abroad.” 

Inside the Episode:  

  • Alex brings us back to the moment he is diagnosed with leukemia, at 20 years old. He remembered the moment as clear as yesterday. What started out with a normal drive in his family van with his dad quickly turned into what would become his new way of life. 
  • Alex tells about his plans to visit Easter Island - “It was so far removed from this lonely little hospital bed, like a jail cell. I would look at that picture and say one day... it's not going to be today, it's not going to be tomorrow, but i promise one day, or my eyes are going to close for the last time i will stand on that island.”
  • On day 244 in the hospital, Alex finally gets the clear to leave the hospital. It was time to fulfill the promises he made to himself. Seven years after setting his crosshairs on Easter Island in a hospital bed, he finally takes his first step on one of the most unique countries in the world. 
  • We discuss differences in travel culture between people of Australia and the United States. Why do we travel? 
  • From lost at sea off the coast of Panama 

Erik Weihenmayer, Grand Canyon, Kayaking, Lava Falls, Mt. Everest, The Travelers Blueprint, Nepal

TTB 041: No Barriers

Show Notes

In 2001 Erik Weihenmayer climbed Mount Everest. He has completed all of the Seven Summits-the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. His latest achievement was kayaking the length of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. All of these achievements are impressive in their own right, but Erik went blind at 14. In this episode we discuss Everest and his latest book, No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon. Enjoy the episode! 

Inside the Episode:  

  • Erik goes blind at just 14 years old. He tells us about those first experiences as a blind teenager and how he began to adapt to his new life. 
  • Erik had an unsettling desire to keep pushing and keep up with the “normal” life of the family and friends around him. 
  • Erik had the ambition, but without his support group he wouldn't have been able to achieve such grand feats. 
  • We get into the treacherous hike that is Mt. Everest, blind. 
  • Erik’s outlook on life is methodical. Breaking down the steps needed to overcome each task, whether he's focusing on Mt. Everest or figuring out how to navigate some of the toughest rapids in the world. 
  • “You wake up and get that eight hours, and you try again today and give it your best. And if you can just have that mental attitude of waking up everyday and realizing there's going to be a lot of some point you end up on the top of the mountain.”
  • No Barriers. Erik now helps other people who are trying to overcome hardship by helping them create their own process to mental and physical accomplishment. 

Contact Info:

No Barriers Website

No Barriers Podcast

IG: @erikweihenmayer

Kayaking the Grand Canyon Documentary:

The Weight of Water

Movie Based on Erik's Mt. Everest Expedition: 

Touch the Top of the World