Intentional Traveler Interview: Diana Edelman - Intentional Travelers
Intentional Traveler Interview: Diana Edelman of D Travels Round and the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective

05 Oct Intentional Traveler Interview: Diana Edelman

We’re excited to introduce you to another intentional traveler, Diana Edelman, who I connected with through the weekly twitter chat she started on responsible tourism. She is a passionate traveler and advocate who has a lot of wisdom to share on her blog. I’m really glad she did this interview for us because she’s a great example of how travel can make an impact in our lives and inspire us to create positive change. Here’s what we learned from Diana in our latest interview:

In a paragraph (or two), who are you and what do you do?

Intentional Traveler Interview: Diana Edelman of D Travels Round and the Responsible Travel & Tourism CollectiveI am a freelance travel writer who shares stories about my life as a solo female traveler, expat and responsible elephant tourism expert on d travels ’round. In a nutshell, I started my site when I realized the life I was living was everything I dreamed it would be, but was no longer the life I wanted.

In the midst of a massive 30-life-crisis, I quit my job when the economy took a nosedive and headed to Europe and parts of Africa for some solo traveling. When I returned to the States, I knew it wasn’t the place for me, so I ended up getting involved with an elephant rescue organization in Thailand. When I received an offer to help out with the foundation in Chiang Mai, I jumped on it. Today, I speak on behalf of elephants in captivity and aim to educate tourists about more responsible ways to see elephants, and other animals, while on their travels.

How did you first get interested in responsible tourism?

I spent a week volunteering at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. While I was there, my eyes were opened to the realities of Asian elephants in captivity. It sparked a passion inside of me that I didn’t know existed. After I returned to Las Vegas, I began to speak out as much as possible about the plight of these incredible animals. From there, it just all kind of happened and a couple of years later, Jessie Festa and I founded the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, which holds weekly twitter chats about responsible tourism (#RTTC, every Wednesday at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. GMT).

When it comes to irresponsible travel, what issues concern you the most? What is it that most people “don’t know they don’t know”?

I don’t think there is any aspect of irresponsible tourism that doesn’t concern me. The world has become a playground for people who want to take selfies and write about their experiences. While I get it, many people do these things without considering the impact their actions have on the environment, people and animals.

The issue closest to my heart is responsible animal tourism, particularly in regards to SE Asia. While living there, I saw such cruelty, and so many people who chose to ignore the cruelty because they wanted to share their stories or post photos of themselves riding elephants, snuggling with baby tigers, posing with endangered species who are living on a chain in the middle of some market in the heart of a tourist beach town. It broke my heart. I think many people don’t even realize that abuse occurs, or that there is an entire illegal animal trade built on animal tourism.

I wrote a very detailed post about the realities of elephant tourism in SE Asia, and I got many responses from people who wrote they had no idea that these things happened. It’s a dirty little secret, but one which can be uncovered by people who do a little bit of digging online. All of the information exists, it is just a question of whether people want to discover it or choose to ignore it in the name of having these “memorable” experiences.

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If you could give one piece advice to others interested in your travel lifestyle, what would it be?

It isn’t as easy as people online make it out to be. While I love traveling and being an expat, doing so means giving up a part of life that others have. It can be hard to watch other people have stable lives at times, while yours is always in the air. If you want to travel, that is fantastic! I highly encourage it. But, do it for the right reasons. If you aren’t happy in your life, while travel seems like it is the cure-all, it isn’t. I used to run and travel, and while it had its ups, it also had its downs, and those downs were worse because I was running and unhappy. Be happy with yourself, love yourself, and then go. It will be that much more of a fulfilling and eye-opening experience.

Are you a fellow Intentional Traveler? You don’t need to be a blogger. Share your story with us to be featured in an upcoming blog post (and potential book project). Help inspire others to pursue more meaningful, transformational travel!

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