It’s no secret that I’ve fallen in love with Latin America.
I was able to spend nearly 7 months during college exploring places like Patagonia, Machu Picchu, the highlands of Ecuador, and the salt flats of Bolivia, and have visited 6 South American countries in total.
A normal traveler would take a break from the region and go explore another side of the world, but I can’t get away from Latin America. I don’t know if I ever will. That's why I'm in the running to become one of LAN and TAM airlines' Next Stop Latin America's Explorer candidates!
This would allow me to travel for up to three months in Latin America in the countries of my choosing–and I've picked Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil! I'm entering into the "Open" category, which means that the focus of my trip and my writing would be whatever I would like to make it: so I'm going to focus on sustainable and responsible travel in these countries.
This is a cause that I am extremely passionate about. In our globalizing world, tourism can have many effects on local cultures and environments. While it can stimulate the economy in some places, it is important to ask yourself "at what cost?" I want to explore both adventure and cultural destination and weed out the positive-impact tourism endeavors from the negative-impact ones, and provide resources that will help travelers make informed decisions about where they are choosing to spend their time and money.
I want to hike, eat, read, volutneer, and explore my way around Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil, and make lasting connections with people and organizations that are doing great work that give back to local communities and helps to preserve environment and culture.
As a graduating college senior, it is impossible to say if there will be another time in my life that I can take three months off of life and deeply explore these incredible places. My life at this point is a canvas waiting to be filled, and even if I don't make this journey with Next Stop Latin America, I will still do everything in my power to achieve my goals of promoting responsible travel in Latin America.
In addition, this trip would be a fantastic end to my college experience! As a Global Studies major (with focuses in Latin America and Cultural Analysis) and a Geography, Spanish, and Public Health minor, I feel that I am completely qualified to analyze responsible tourism conditions in Latin America. I even did my senior thesis on the effects of tourism on Cusco, Peru!
Want to help me explore more countries in my favorite place in the world and gain a broader perspective on Latin America? Vote for me in Next Stop Latin America's Explorer Candidate Contest!
I just need to be voted one of the Top 10 Candidates in order to be considered by Next Stop Latin America, and I don't have much farther to go!
Do you have any suggestions of positive places to visit in Colombia, Venezuela, or Brazil? Let me know in the comments! Even if I don't make it to the final round for Next Stop Latin America, I still plan to make this trip a reality and bring valuable information and resources to all of you on responsible travel in Latin America.