Welcome to Passions and Places, a brand new blog we’re excited to be launching. But who are we, and why are we starting a blog, anyway?
The Short Version
Ryan and I are a couple originally from Montana who now live in Boston. We both love travel, the outdoors, adventure, and healthy living (or at least aspiring to healthy living). We want to share stories from our travel experiences, tips on outdoor activities and budgeting, and reflections on ethical travel, wellness, running (mostly Ryan), yoga (mostly me) – and more! Through P&P, we hope to inspire you to seek your own adventure.
The Long Version
I was bitten by the blog bug back in 2010, when I was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda. (Yes, I had Internet access there!) From my little house in northeastern Rwanda, my Google Reader (remember that?) feed grew and grew as I discovered more and more blogs to follow.
Global development blogs that analyzed the exact type of work I was doing in Rwanda. Lifestyle design blogs that promised to help people become the best version of themselves. And, of course, travel blogs like Nomadic Matt and Legal Nomads, that told non-stop stories of adventure and offered tips on everything from accommodations and plane tickets to avoiding tourist traps and finding authentic experiences.
With all that reading, I easily imagined myself travel blogging – going to off-the-beaten-path destinations and sharing the stories of the people there, supporting local businesses and promoting ethical travel practices, and trying to help others better understand the world.
The initial seed of the idea for P&P was planted this past April, during a hike outside Portland, Maine, the Saturday after my first week at my current job. The hike gave Ryan and me the time to really talk about our goals and hopes for the future, and I think the fresh air fueled us to think outside the box.
We got to talking about how we could share with others our love for the outdoors and
our Ryan’s expertise in a host of adventure activities and extensive knowledge of New England. The idea snowballed, and we started to think about what else we might be able to share.
Ryan and I both grew up in Montana and have plenty of stories about the Big Sky State and tips for experiencing it at its finest. Now living in Boston, we love the city’s healthy restaurants, public parks, and fitness studios, so you can expect to hear about those as well.
We frequently get out into the rest of New England, too (Vermont is pretty much our second home), and love all the outdoor activities the region has to offer. We’ll also be reminiscing about our time spent in Africa and Southeast Asia and some recent (budget-friendly!) travels in the Caribbean, plus I’ll be reporting on some of the travel I do for work.
I’ve spent the past eight years studying and working in the global development field, including three years living in different parts of Africa. These experiences have shown me a lot about international volunteering, charity donations, ethical travel, and portrayals of developing countries, which I’m excited to write about on this blog.
While there’s loads of truly excellent travel writing out there, I’m sometimes concerned by writing I see about certain places, especially in Africa, and portrayals of people that deny them agency and dignity. We want to challenge the stereotypes that this type of writing perpetuates, and we hope P&P will be a space for accurate and respectful stories about the places we visit, in Africa and elsewhere.
It’s probably no surprise that I’m also concerned about certain tourism practices, especially in developing countries. While travel can be wonderful and beneficial for both visitors and locals, there’s no doubt it can also pose threats. We want to share stories of traveling in a conscious and sustainable manner, and provide tips on making travel more ethical. We hope P&P will be a platform to advocate for travel writing and tourism practices that are respectful to local communities.
What else? I’m starting a yoga teacher training program in February, and plan to share some of that experience and the learning that comes with it. Ryan is training for his second marathon, which will be in Vermont (What’d I tell you? Our second home!) in May, so you’ll also see his favorite runs in the Boston area and maybe even some reflections on the training process.
Passions and Places isn’t squarely a travel blog. It’s also about other things we’re passionate about for the same reasons we love travel. Things that push our limits, help us develop as people, and teach us about the world. We hope to use the blog to inspire people to become conscious citizens and to step outside their comfort zones, no matter what form that may take (though we hope it includes travel!).
Our blog has been a long time coming, and we couldn’t be more excited to be starting this new project. It feels like the perfect marriage between my passion for writing, experience living abroad, and knowledge of global development, and Ryan’s expertise in adventure activities, intimate knowledge of many outdoors destinations, and budding interest in photography.
Thanks for reading our very first post, and we hope you’ll check back soon to hear more about some of the things we’re passionate about and some of our favorite places.