Traverse Journeys is years in the making, if not decades. In fact, I can’t even pinpoint exactly where it began. Was it my globe-trotting Danish grandparents that instilled the love of travel in me at a very young age with the postcards, coins and stamps they sent me in all shapes and sizes? Was it the myriad books that I read as a kid, or was it my first pivotal trip abroad to Panamá at 17 to do service work in the jungle?
Whatever the case, as my journey into adulthood moved forward it took me to more and more places through college, grad school and career, ranging from journalism in Costa Rica, social change research in Brazil, running with the bulls in Pamplona (true story, for work!), teaching English in South Korea, and roadtripping through Namibia. Each and every experience has a unique story, and the common thread between them all is the people I met, the cultures I encountered, and the transformation I experienced every time.
So, as this new venture takes flight I wanted to share the 6 reasons why Traverse Journeys has officially arrived:
1. A love for travel. Cultural nuance, understanding new perspectives, experiencing nature in completely new ways, challenging moments that make you question your identity and place in the world, conversations with people you would never meet at home – these are only a handful of reasons why travel speaks to my soul.
2. Use of skills. Anyone who speaks another language knows it’s true: Use it or lose it. I didn’t study Spanish for 20 years for nothing! Language is continuously evolving, and the vocabulary, slang, and variance you can add is unlimited. Tour operation also requires organizational skills, relationship building, and soft skills like communication and cross-cultural competence. Each day is an opportunity to hone and improve what I’ve learned from life, academia and career.
3. It wasn’t just me. I do not believe in “self-made.” (Read: Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers.) It’s not that hard work doesn’t exist, or that certain people aren’t incredibly brilliant. But none of us live in a vacuum. There is absolutely no way I would embark on this journey without the support of my business and personal mentors, clients that believe in the product, a spouse that believes in me, and friends and family that are my word-of-mouth ambassadors all the way.
4. A way to give back. I do very strongly believe business has the power, if used properly, to fuel social change by using its dollars in meaningful ways. Anyone who has seen Poverty, Inc. will get a sobering picture of the fallacy of “quick fix” solutions – charity, government, and social enterprise alike – and how more holistic and structural approaches need to be taken to create real social change. Underlying much of the world’s problems is opportunity, specifically for jobs. This is why Traverse works with local vendors whenever possible and also donates 5% of each trip’s sales to its partner non-profit that is enhancing their community in a sustainable way.
5. To open hearts and minds. In Clash! 8 Cultural Conflicts That Make Us Who We Are, Hazel Markus and Alana Connor point out that one way the Global North – generally richer, safer and with better opportunities for employment and education – can be more understanding, empathetic, and open-minded about their neighbors in the Global South by actually visiting them. Not just places, but people. This is critical in a global economy, and one with unprecedented conflict, food shortage, and economic and political migrants. This is why cultural exchange and education is an integral part of every Traverse trip.
6. To create something bigger than myself. Traverse isn’t about me, it’s about the space created to foster social change through people-to-people interaction, appreciation for nature, and rooting meaning into our favorite topic: travel.
I hope to share the journey together on one of our first two trips this year, and sign up for our newsletter to hear about adventures to come! -Ashley Blake, 2017
Yoga & Surf in Nicaragua with Gigi Mao – 6 days of sun, surf and serenity featuring community partners Barrio Planta Project and Alex’s Surf Shop.
Amazon Encounter in Ecuador with Rainforest Partnership – One week of natural beauty and cultural immersion in the Yasuní National Forest of Ecuador.