2010 In Review: Editor Maria Russo’s Picks, Tips, & 2011 Travel Predictions

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The fourth installment of our series  “The Expeditioner’s 2010 In Review” comes from co-editor Maria Russo. Ever insightful, Maria acknowledges her Eat, Pray, Love influence, encourages us to read any “Top Ten” travel articles you can find, and can’t wait to visit the largest shopping mall in Kuwait. Or was it the opposite of that . . .

Where’d you head this past year?

Costa Rica, Thailand, Washington DC, and the Catskills, NY. Oh, and I flew into Narita, Japan to and from Thailand for a short layover — does this count? (Editor’s Note: Nope, unless you’re Sarah Palin.)

What possible travels do you see on the 2011 calendar?

Hopefully Guatemala to volunteer at Luke’s nonprofit organization (GodChild.org) and to visit Lake Atitlán. I’m also thinking India and Bali over the summer, which, I swear, was my travel projection long before I saw Eat, Pray, Love.

What tips have you learned in your 2010 travels?

Every person you meet along the way of your travels is a teacher, so listen to the lesson and learn from it. During both my trips this year (Costa Rica and Thailand), I was in “journalist” mode, working on piecing stories together, so I went out of my way to meet with people I would have never thought to talk to, and pushed myself to partake in experiences I would have otherwise passed-up. Because of this, I saw and experienced things that — sorry if this sounds cliché — but were truly life-changing.

What’s on your radar for the upcoming year?

I’m liking the wave of philanthropic-related pieces, remote village stories and features on anything but the largest shopping mall in Kuwait (sorry National Geographic) that have been cropping up in travel publications this past year. My hope for 2011 is that the travel writing world will begin to steer away from the “Top Ten” pieces (sadly, I’m guilty of writing these pieces as well), and continue to see the importance of a journalistic approach to telling a story about a destination.

There are so many global issues that need to be talked about, unveiled, and analyzed. We, as travelers, have the power to expose injustices, credit organizations that are changing things for the better in developing nations, and tell the stories of people that need to be heard — whether it’s though the spoken or written word. So in quoting the lyrics of a powerful ballad from the late Michael Jackson, let’s “Heal the world; make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race.” Ok, so that was a little over the top, but you get the point.

[Photo of  Tubkaak beach in Krabi, Thailand, by Maria Russo]

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