Do you always travel hybrid ?
No. Some of our trips have been solely for luxurious respite or romantic celebration. And some of our trips have focused only on a simple, outdoor nature experience. But as often as we can, we try to combine the two in some fashion – it optimizes our vacation time!
Some of your ‘Leisure’ choices seem really upscale. How can I travel like Paradox on a limited income or budget?
‘Luxury’ is a relative term. It can mean 1000 thread count sheets and a customized experience to one person, a room with a view (any price and any view), or simply a nice meal where someone cooks for YOU, instead of the other way around. Within this definition, we have experienced ‘luxury’ at every income level we have experienced.
Does adding an 'upscale leisure' component make you lose sight of what’s really important in life?
Does it make people think you are a snob?
No, we don’t believe that. There is no reason to feel guilty about enjoying polarity in travel styles. Regardless of how grandiose or down-to-earth your travel environment is, the common factor is the human factor. In all scenarios, we make an effort to interact with the people we meet - from the workers who provide a service, to our fellow travelers on the same journey, to cultures that represent the region. And we have found that there are compelling stories, insights and perspectives at every level. It’s this human commonality that keeps us grounded, even in the most opulent environments. And we always come home feeling much better than when we left. Nic and I both grew up in blue-collar families with simple childhoods. We have worked in restaurants, sold cell phones and Nic even worked on a Musk Ox farm for a summer. As a couple, we have had stable jobs, unpredictable jobs, invested all of our savings, then lost it all and have worked hard to rebuild it. We have had good fortune in the last 3-5 years and are grateful for where we are now. I don’t think we will ever lose sight of who we are or where we came from, regardless of how expensive a room or meal is.
I am not very active right now, how can I start adding that component to our vacations?
It’s easier than you think! Doing even a thirty minute walking tour of the city you are visiting is a start. Also, many hotels have a gym, and some even rent cruiser bikes as way to see the city. So that’s probably the easiest way to begin. Even on a beach or resort vacation, I feel so much better starting my day this way.
Are you a Travel Planner? Do you create itineraries for other people?
No. Typically, whenever we return from a trip, our photos on Facebook, Instagram, and www.stoverphoto.com, results in a flood of requests for our itineraries and suggestions as to how others can replicate our trips. We love that! So for now, I just want to get you started by sharing some of the research and legwork that I have already done. Our intention is simply to keep exploring the world ourselves and then share our plans and experiences with others who wish to do the same – think of us like a sort of travel 'recon team'. We hope that by doing this we can inspire you and remove some of the complexity of travel planning, so that more of you get out there exploring this exciting planet of ours! We will also share links to travel experts who promote Responsible Travel so you can choose to either Do It Yourself or finalize your plans with their help.
Do you get paid for your reviews and or recommendations?
No. I feel that would compromise the authenticity of the review. If brands or hotel chains wish to have us come experience what they have to offer, that would be great. But that means that they are subjecting themselves to an honest review. That has not been the case at the moment, as this site is so new. We fund all of our trips ourselves and share our experience, simply because we love it and are doing it for ourselves anyways! I am a big consumer advocate and I want you to have the best experience for your hard earned money. When I find unique boutique hotel ‘treasures’, or wonderful VRBO or AirBnB rentals, it’s because I had a great experience and want to pass it on to you! I have recently begun to use affiliate referral links for hotels and gear that we have either personally used ourselves or have done research on and feel that they offer good value, are useful, or provide a positive, environmentally supportive experience for the traveler.
How do you make money off your websites?
I just started experimenting with affiliate marketing. Which means, throughout our itineraries, you will find links to hotel booking sites. When you book your hotel through this link, that company shares a teensy commission with me, without adding any cost to you. But believe me, it will take a LOT of bookings before I see any substantial income. But I am also open to partnerships or brand ambassadorship in the future if the fit is right. I am not a fan of big banner ads that distract from the appearance of a website, or competing for visual space with our photography. If that changes in the future, or can be done discreetly, our partners will be services or brands that resonate with our standards and values and represent what ParadoxTravel is trying to accomplish – Hybrid Exploration and Connection to this planet and its people by way of Responsible Tourism.
What does Responsible Travel really mean?
For me, Responsible Travel is more of mindset than a definition. And it’s not intended to trigger guilt about travel. Responsible Travel is more about conscious ways to see the world while still fulfilling dreams of exploration. It’s about thinking when we travel and remaining aware of behaviors that impact these places. Don’t think of it as limiting the way we travel, but rather seeing better ways we can travel so we have positive impact on the people and the area of the world that we visit.
When we travel responsibly, we make choices so that more of our money stays local. When we travel responsibly, we stay aware of our impact on the landscapes and oceans and manage behaviors or usage that threatens them. Responsible travel is also about respect and attitude. When we travel, if we recognize that these places that we visit are people’s homes and see locals who serve us as hosts rather than providers, that too, is traveling responsibly. By showing respect to people who live in the places we visit and politely interacting with them, we are traveling responsibly. By utilizing local guides, graciously accepting an invitation to tea in a berber village or hiring a local sherpa, you are traveling responsibly.These are just some simple examples.
Why not use the term Sustainable? And how do we reconcile the carbon from plane travel?
Most travel, in the category of “use of resources that damage our environment”, is not sustainable. If you ride a bike to your destination, stay at an off-the-grid lodge and eat locally grown food, well that would be a pretty sustainable vacation. But for me, someone who wants to see the world, I am hoping to see electric or solar plane service within my lifetime. But that is not the case currently, so we are back to that feeling of guilt again. And if feeling guilty about travel prevents some of us from doing it at all, then I think we are missing some real opportunity for impact.
I actually believe that tourism can be a mechanism to do something good and that travel can be an exchange. If we use travel to increase awareness, to increase engagement in local communities, and advocate for environmental protection, then in my opinion, we have just created a different way to ‘offset carbon’. So if we want to do something to compensate for the carbon use of our flights? Then we can donate to a charity that is working towards getting an African community clean water, as example. If we want to offset the environmental damage to which airplane travel contributes? Then let’s make sure we make conscious choices to eat locally, hike more, walk more or bike more once we are there. Sustainable travel may not be a reality.
But Responsible travel can be.