The #TravelEnjoyRespect Campaign—My Submission

Explore the world, share your travel knowledge, and teach others how to be respectful tourists.

Recently, I applied for the adventure of a lifetime with the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development (IYSTD 2017) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The Traveller’s Competition sends one person on a month-long trip to 5 different destinations across the globe to practice and share how to be a sustainable, respectful tourist. The mission of this campaign closely aligns with my beliefs and future aspirations, not to mention nearly parallels a personal project that will launch beginning in March 2018. Check out their campaign video below! It leaves you feeling purposeful, impactful and an important part of the global community.

All the details aside, I want to share what I submitted for the contest. Our prompt was: “Share your experience on how you #TravelEnjoyRespect and explain why you should be selected to represent the global ‘responsible traveller.'”

My response:

“High in the Andes in the outskirts of Puno, hand-built adobe homes line the only road that runs through the village of Atuncolla. On our last day, we finished refurbishing the modest-by-US-standards school library and packed our bags, bidding farewell to thin mattresses, insects in our rooms, bathrooms that require manual flushing, hour-long walks to reach water and steep temperature changes in a day; despite that, my heart panged as I hugged a community goodbye that welcomed us into their homes, feeding us, teaching us their ways of life and sharing their stories before journeying to our next stop: Machu Picchu.

My trip to Peru taught me the importance of fully immersing yourself in a culture and stepping into another’s shoes. Respectful tourism is enjoying sightseeing balanced by taking the time to learn about your surroundings. “If you want to be educated and wise, you must open your heart, expand your mind, be accepting and ready to change.” This idea embodies my vision of a responsible traveler. From my many experiences abroad inputting this mentally, I’ve learned to share my stories, teach what I’ve experienced and feed the minds of the wanderlust that aim to do the same.”

The response strays far from perfection, but in writing it, memories of my first trip to South America flooded my mind. The lingering, limited brisk air I breathed while playing color tag in Spanish with some of the children in the village; the silence and serenity of Atuncolla that came with its remoteness; the warmth from the fire on my cheeks while our light-hearted hosts told folktales and stories I couldn’t yet understand.

All this to say, I realized if we don’t say yes to an adventure, be fully present in the moment and interact with those around us, we might miss out on what could become some of our greatest memories—the ones that leave deep-rooted impressions and evoke the rarest of emotions. Those are mine of Peru.

Travel often, enjoy the adventure, respect the culture.

Besos,

Jeni

The BEST Disney Park for the Wanderlust

As a worldly traveler, it comes at no surprise that Epcot is my favorite Disney park. In a figure eight-like shape with Future World toward the entrance, and, more importantly, World Showcase further in, Epcot is home to 11 international pavilions circling a lagoon. It’s known to some as the more “adult” and educational park at Disney.  Future World is home to Disney’s greenhouses, aquarium and futuristic attractions while World Showcase is, what I like to call, cloud nine. Allow me to enlighten you:

As you make your way around the Showcase, you are completely immersed in the cultures of each respective country. Starting from the left, you’ll adventure into Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Everything from the Cast Members’ attire to the background music to the gastronomy and architecture submerses you in a microcosm of the country.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Don’t believe that you’ll feel like you’re really there? Talk to a Cast Member in one of the pavilions. They’re from that country! You can imagine my giddiness upon discovering this and, since then, I’ve made friends in (and from) France, spoken Spanish, attempted Italian and struggled through some German with fellow Cast Members in World Showcase.

Fun fact: Disney works extensively and directly with each country in World Showcase to create the most authentic experience for guests.

And if you’re still not impressed with Epcot, visit in the fall and indulge in Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Food and wine, people. From all over the world. It epitomizes my version of heaven.

unnamed-2

In addition to the endless festivals and the accompanying tasty treats in Epcot, the eclectic restaurants leave you with far too many options to only spend one day in the park. The Garden Grill is one of my favorites not just because Mickey, Pluto and Chip and Dale dine with you, but also endless brunch with Mickey waffles. Game over.FullSizeRender_4

For these reasons and many (MANY) more, Epcot has swept me off my feet and taken the number one spot on my Disney Parks list.

Besos,

Jeni

Day trip to Tampa

At an hour west of Orlando, Tampa makes for the perfect day or weekend trip. I wish I’d chosen the latter of the two because one day was not nearly enough to explore everything I wanted to in this cool costal city.

As a coffeehouse lover, I investigated the best brews before making my way west. I prefer to research my destination and create somewhat of a framework for my excursions that allow for some flexibility and impromptu exploring, yet still act as a gentle guide. Let me tell you, the coffee scene in Tampa rules; it blew me out of the water not only because of the chic, modern ambiance, but a host of them serve drool-worthy food, too. I elected to give Buddy Brew Coffee a shot. After many minutes contemplating the menu and some awkward small talk with the barista, I ordered a pumpkin spice latte (‘tis the season!) and 2 olive oil poached eggs on toast. I could go on and on, but to keep it short, the artsy pumpkin latte was divine and I still dream about my eggs and toast… I wish I was kidding.

Other Tampa coffee houses on my hit list: Caffeine (2 blocks from Buddy Brew!), Buttermilk Provisions, The Blind Tiger Café and Foundation Coffee Co.

While I had every intention of wandering through the Tampa Museum of Art and Henry B. Plant Museum post-caffeine, I came across The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg while scrolling through my feed in Buddy Brew. My inner señorita sparked to life and Spanish studies called, so I sidetracked to St. Pete. After years studying Spanish language and culture (including prominent artists), stumbling upon this museum was like finding a pot of gold.

Tampa_14

A few blissful hours later, I ventured down the road to Karma Juice Bar & Eatery for some açai before returning to Tampa. To finish off my day, I strolled down the popular Riverwalk and took in the views from Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

Had I stayed longer, Datz would have been my dining venue and I’d have spent a full day in St. Pete! So much to see and do! Overall, I loved everything about my day in the Tampa area despite only getting a taste of what it has to offer.

Until next time!

Jeni