The Power of Context and Experience

I talk to travelers all the time, and it seems to me that in the age of Disneyland and Club Med, we are loosing our dedication to the experience of real places. For me, I'm committed to the character of the places I visit: their built environment, cultural heritage, and living fabric. I enjoy didactic walking seminars, to bring me, and those with me, together with the place I'm visiting in a manner beneficial to both.

I believe that mass tourism has a corrosive effect on monuments, museums, and cultures and we loose the context of what we are experiencing. Shouldn't we adhere to the principles of sustainable tourism, as elucidated by the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Charter and the National Geographic Society's Geotourism Charter. As an example, watch the music video on the Digital Story page titled Sol Solution.


One of the dilemmas of traveling is the overwhelming amount of information, data, and experiences that we encounter during a short visit. These walking seminars, which I always book a private guide, provide an intimate alternative to traditional consumer tours. They emphasize in-depth conversation, much like a seminar class in a small, liberal arts college. So, for example, we might have the opportunity to spend hours picking through the rain forest with a local biologist or visit outback villages with a local philanthropist. It is these experiences that form the context of our journey. When we travel, I want to encounter and interact with real people, not other tourists in some resort.

We're heavily invested in making our Expeditions work seamlessly without a lot of hassle. At the same time, we are real people and part of the experience of travel are the trials and tribulations. Still, we've always made it a point to hire local guides who are not only knowledgable advocates of their homes but also dedicated to our travel experience. Join me as we explore the "hidden gems" of our destinations.

Dr. Michael Thompson
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