A Travel Writer Reflects on Her Profession, Overcrowding, and Hate Mail

“Do you silly writers realize the damage you’re causing?” the email read. “Write about and ruin your own home.” A guy named Jim was responding to a story I’d written for Outside about the Million Dollar Highway, a high-altitude roadway that connects the Colorado towns of Silverton and Ouray.

“You wrote an article about Highway 550 and the Ouray area, but what you probably can’t understand is that enough fools have already done the same thing these past few years and now this area is so freaking busy, that all the folks who live here are asking, ‘What happened?’ ‘How did we get so busy’ that it’s completely RUINED,” Jim continued. “People who have lived in the Ouray area for generations are moving away because the whole area is being overrun.”

If you’re looking for someone to blame, apparently it’s my fault that the once-quiet corner of southwest Colorado is now swarmed with people. But here’s the deal: sharing information about unique places in the outdoors is literally my job as a correspondent for Outside, and what if I have an opportunity to inspire people to visit a new place that will alter their view of themselves and the world around them? What if they fall in love with that place and then work to protect it? Wouldn’t you want to share that? Don’t you want others to know the beauty of the place you love so much? Well, sorry, but I do.

Travel writing—an archaic job that’s now mostly been replaced by influencers and YouTubers—sounds glamorous, but it really isn’t. Nowadays, it takes deciphering which places are under-the-radar gems that could benefit from a tourism boost and which spots are so overvisited that you’ll sit in gridlock just getting through town.

I like to inspire people to get outside. In fact, that’s Outside’s core mission. I also know that many U.S. towns that rely on tourism were hit hard during the pandemic with less income as a result of fewer travelers, and outfitters, stores, and restaurants went out of business. Now that people are traveling again, I also consider that many of these towns are getting more tourists than ever before and business owners are still struggling to find the staff to accommodate them.

“You have to ask yourself, is your writing about a place contributing to or taking away from the place?” veteran travel writer and longtime Outside contributor Stephanie Pearson, author of the new book 100 Great American Parks, told me. “You have to take responsibility. If you participate in this, how are you making it better?”

I had called Pearson to ask for some advice. How do I deal with the fact that, as a travel writer, I’m possibly contributing to our current overcrowding problem? In other words, what if Jim is right?

“The party line is that yes, more people will go there, but they will love and respect those places, so they won’t be destroyed,” Pearson said. “But in some areas like Moab, where tourists have trashed campsites, started fires, and dumped RV sewage, some residents believe that disrespectful visitors can be almost as destructive as the extractive industries that tourism was supposed to replace.”

On the story on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway, someone commented: “Nooooooo!!! Tourists are dangerous on this road!!!!!! … STAY AWAY!!!!!!!” 

Pearson said she’s of the philosophy that everyone should be given access to these places, but we all need to take responsibility as well. She told me she’s become even more thoughtful about the places she writes about. The first question she asks local sources when she’s writing about a new place: Do you want me to write about this? Sometimes, the hotel clerk or the dive shop employee will say, no, we have enough crowds. Or sometimes they’ll say, August is very busy, but tell people to come in September instead. “I think we are hard wired as humans to want to wander, and people are always going to travel, but there’s always a more responsible way to do it. If you feel like a place shouldn’t be written about, don’t write about it,” she said.

When I was writing about ski towns to live in, the PR person from a well-known western ski resort told me, kindly: please don’t write about us. “The town has seen an influx of homebuyers from out of state, resulting in a shortage of affordable housing and a lot of resentment among the workers who call this place home,” he wrote. “I know this story isn’t unique, but right now, the resort and our local visitor bureaus are focused on promoting stewardship and sustainable tourism, rather than contributing to the population boom.”

So, I didn’t write about that town. I don’t want to add to the problem; ideally, I’d like to help solve it, by writing about issues like responsible tourism, best practices, and how you can give back to a community you’re visiting. But again, my job is to write about great places to travel to, so I’ve got to try to find spots where the locals won’t hate me for mentioning their hometown.

Jim’s note was hardly the first hate mail I’d received. On the story on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway, someone commented: “Nooooooo!!! Tourists are dangerous on this road!!!!!! I’ve seen too many crazy things because tourists don’t know how to drive mountain roads … STAY AWAY!!!!!!!”

When I wrote about underrated beach towns, I got comments like, “Way to blow up the spots.” A piece on best free campsites in all 50 states—which, for the record, included responsible dispersed camping practices and didn’t divulge any spot that’s all that unknown—warranted an onslaught of angry responses along the lines of: “And now they’re all ruined. Keep the best places private!”

Concealing our secret spots just makes us gatekeepers to public lands that never belonged to us in the first place.

We now live in a world where Leave No Trace principles apply to not leaving trash on your next hike and also to social media guidelines on how to post about your favorite places and whether or not to geotag them. “The pushback against geotagging involves ordinary people deputizing themselves and asserting authority they don’t actually have to keep the outdoors ‘pure’ or ‘wild,’ ‘pristine,’ or simply, the way they remembered it from childhood by excluding people they view as dirty, loud, offensive, or simply not sharing their values,” Danielle Williams, founder of DiversifyOutdoors.com, writes on her blog.

Williams’ point is loud and clear. If we want to make the outdoors a place where everyone feels welcome, then we need to share information—as well as education. Concealing our secret spots just makes us gatekeepers to public lands that never belonged to us in the first place. “The so-called United States is Native Land and even the places you think of as ‘the middle of nowhere’ are the beloved homelands of Native people,” Jolie Varela, founder of a community called Indigenous Women Hike, writes in an Instagram post. “National Parks or so-called public lands are stolen Native lands, not your playgrounds or your backyard.”

There’s a sliding scale between thinking a secret spot is yours to own and keep private versus the trampling effect of overtourism. Ideally, we can live somewhere in the middle, sharing places to make them more accessible to a wider array of people but also protecting spots that risk being overrun. And it’s on all of us—writers, influencers, tourists, state and local governments—to find a sustainable way forward.

Not everyone is angry, of course. Occasionally, people will tell me they visited a place I recommended in a story and they were grateful for the insight. My editor at Outside was on a hike recently in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a fellow hiker told her that he wouldn’t have known about that trail if it weren’t for Outside and that he appreciated the tip.

“The recipe for preserving nature is not to have less people experience it; it’s to have more people experience it,” photographer Chris Burkard says.

Most travel writers—myself included—recognize the hypocrisy of what we do: revealing other people’s secluded stashes but sometimes hoarding our own. “We have a campground close to where we live in New Jersey that I’ve really kept secret over the years, because selfishly, I want to be able to get a site there,” says Jeremy Puglisi, author of the guidebook, Where Should We Camp Next? “Call me a hypocrite, but I don’t want that place to get overwhelmed. But if some other writer or influencer shows up and blows the place up, I’m not going to get angry with them. Are there really any secrets anymore? With the internet and how easy it is to find information, it’s very hard to call any place a real secret anymore.”

Puglisi told me he considers if a campground can handle crowds before he covers it—does it have two campsites or 200?—and also that it’s becoming increasingly harder to find places that are truly undiscovered. “If we show up to a great spot, and there are other people there, I don’t find the experience ruined because someone else is there,” he says. “I don’t have to be totally alone to enjoy nature. I’m never going to complain about a crowd somewhere, because I’m there, so I’m part of the crowd.”

There’s a weird little corner of the internet where people post videos and locations of free, dispersed campsites on public lands, like a guy who goes by Dispersed Camper Man on YouTube, or RoaminRazz. They mainly shoot low-budget phone videos of beautiful, remote campsites, sharing so the rest of the world can find and enjoy. Nobody hates on them. Instead, they get comments like: “Thanks for the specific directions and coordinates.”

Photographer Chris Burkard, who has 3.9 million followers on Instagram and travels the world taking stunning photos of places that most of us will never see, says he’s careful about giving away specific instructions to the places he photographs. Not to serve as a gatekeeper, but to preserve people’s experiences in exploring their own path. “If you’re giving someone a road map to a place, that can be a bit of a bummer. The greatest joy comes from finding a place, or researching a place,” he told me. “We need to give people a chance. We need to understand that nature can provide a way.”

According to him, we don’t need outdoor places that are limited to the lucky few. We just need those who visit those places to be respectful. “The recipe for preserving nature is not to have less people experience it; it’s to have more people experience it,” Burkard says. “But if you’re going to unlock the gate to a place, there better be some instructions on that gate. I share places with the hope that other people experience them, but I hope they experience those places with a sense of respect and care.”

I hung up the phone with Burkard and made a resolution to myself. If I show up at your swimming hole or ski mountain, I’m warning you now, I may write about it. Sorry in advance. I think everyone should be able to experience beautiful places. But I promise you this: I’ll do my absolute best to remind readers to learn about the history, pick up their trash, tip their guides, and be kind to the locals and the land.

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Cruise holiday packing tip: Essential tips to pack to avoid common problem onboard ship | Cruise | Travel

However, several passengers have been caught out when it comes to charging electronics. An expert told Express.co.uk what to pack to avoid challenges onboard.

Ashley Kosciolek at the Points Guy UK shared their essential cruise packing list with Express.co.uk.

She said: “Bring European plug adapters. The situation improves with each new ship, but cruise cabins are notoriously short on outlets.

“If you’re like me and travel with your phone, laptop, tablet, e-reader, wearables and a host of other electronics, charging everything can be a challenge.

“Some cruisers recommend packing a power strip, but that can be dicey, as surge-protected strips are often confiscated.

READ MORE: Passengers should ‘avoid’ certain clothing if they want free upgrade

“Instead, I suggest bringing a couple of plug adapters for European-style outlets. You’ll usually find at least one or two in your room, depending on the line and ship, and having those adapters will allow you to actually use them.”

Cruise ships may not have outlets for UK plugs so it’s essential that cruisers pack plug adapters.

It’s not always a good idea to bring a power strip as this could be confiscated when passengers board the ship.

Passengers should also try to bring a portable charger so they can maintain their battery while on excursions.


Ashley added: “I never cruise without a pack of thank-you notes or blank greeting cards.

“Unless something goes horribly awry, I leave a cash tip for my room steward at the end of each voyage, in addition to the automatic gratuities that are charged to my account.

“It gives me somewhere to put the money instead of just leaving it on the vanity when I depart.

“Even if you’re not a fan of additional tipping, you can still leave a nice note of thanks.”

Cruise crew work notoriously hard so it’s always nice for passengers to show their appreciation when they leave.

READ MORE: British expats could get paid over £2,500 to move to Spain

She said: “With so many horror stories about lost luggage lately, Apple AirTags are a must-have right now for any traveller, especially cruisers who are flying to their ports of embarkation.

“Simply pop one into each of your pieces of luggage and you can track their whereabouts using your iPhone and a Bluetooth connection.

“With a pack of these handy gadgets, you’ll be better equipped to find your missing bags than the airlines themselves.”

Many passengers have lost their luggage recently and some have struggled to find it again.

Using AirTags or another similar tracking device, passengers can keep track of their luggage when they travel.

It’s a good idea to keep all valuables in hand luggage as they’re less likely to go missing.

Some cruise passengers like to pack a swimming costume in their hand luggage so they can swim on the first day.

Cruise ships normally deliver passengers’ luggage towards the end of the first day so it’s good to be prepared.

Find more tips at The Points Guy UK

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ACA Conference & Expo 2023 Travel

The Toronto Pearson International Airport (airport code: YYZ) is located approximately 18 miles (30 minutes) from the Metro Toronto Convention Center.


Many airlines provide service to the Toronto Pearson International Airport such as Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines. Feel free to book your travel with the airline(s) that best meet your needs.

Ground Transportation

Taxis: For your safety and security, be sure to choose a licensed taxi. They charge flat rates no surge pricing to Toronto destinations, accept all major credit cards and meet safety requirements. Licensed taxis pick up locations are at Terminal 1 – Arrivals Level, Door D and Terminal 3 Arrivals Level Doors D, E and F. Approximate cost for a taxi is $61-$67 one-way plus tip.

Public Transit Buses

Public Transit Buses at Person Airport go to downtown Toronto and the suburbs. Use the trip planner to map your route. Transportation options are TTC (Toronto) and Go Transit

Train to City

Union Pearson Express runs from Pearson Airport to Union Station in downtown Toronto in just 25 minutes. Adult on-way fare from Pearson to Union is $12.35. The train runs every 30 minutes seven days a week. UP Express locations at Pearson Airport are in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

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Airline pilot shortages impacting summer travel

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) – Major airlines all over the country have been canceling hundreds of flights a day, citing pilot shortages after encouraging many pilots to retire early during the pandemic while underestimating the demand during recovery. So far, over 300 airports nationwide are now offering fewer flights.

One hundred eighty-eight airports have lost more than 25% of their flights. At least nine airports no longer have any flights coming or going. It’s estimated that the airline industry will be short some 12,000 pilots by next year.

But former airline pilot and CEO of the Richmond Executive Aviation Flight School (REA) Captain Mark Hackett says this problem was propagated after a reduction and pay and pensions industry-wide following 9/11.

“Pilot pay and benefits were reduced after 9/11. Pensions and 401k plans were disrupted during bankruptcy court. Pilot pay was actually cut in half as the airlines were struggling to survive, and it really diminished the pilot training pool from Sept. 11, 2001, onto today,” Hackett said.

Hackett says barriers to entry in the aviation field have also limited the pool of available qualified pilots and how quickly they can become certified.

“We’re also experiencing a shortage because it costs a lot of money to become a professional pilot. You have to have a lot of training, you have to have FAA certification, and now since 2009, you have 1,500 hours of flight time to qualify as an airline transport pilot,” Hackett said. “We’re seeing a reduction of airline pilots that can fill those seats today.”

Before 2009, the training hours required for new pilots were just 350. Hackett says while the safety requirements have significantly improved across the industry, it also means it takes longer for pilots to become certified, which is why maintaining a robust training and hiring pool is crucial for the health of the aviation industry.

“Due to that fast-paced recovery, you can’t just snap your fingers and have a pilot go from you’re hired to you’re in the seat,” Hackett said. “It takes time. These pilots that we train here at Richmond Executive Aviation must have 1,500 hours of flight experience before they even qualify for the airlines, and that takes years to do.”

Hackett says despite the pandemic hitting the airline industry hard, it also slowed the demand for pilots. During that time, airlines reduced the number of pilots they were training, betting that recovery after the pandemic would take much longer.

“The airlines were struggling to maintain during the pandemic, so they stopped their hiring cycles, they stopped their pilot pools, and their search for qualified pilots,” Hackett said. “The airlines, to save resources, did not put many resources into getting those qualified candidates into the seats fast enough, and now that the industry is recovering much quicker than anticipated, the pilot shortage is starting to rear its ugly head again.”

There is also a requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – that airline pilots must retire once they reach the age of 65. Hackett says that the age requirement was increased from 60 in 2007, which bought the industry time up to the pandemic.

“Had the pandemic not happened, airline companies would have experienced the airline pilot shortage we’re seeing now much earlier,” Hackett said. “You can’t fly planes without pilots, and you can’t have safety unless those pilots are highly qualified.”

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the largest union of pilots in the world, says there have been 8,000 newly certified pilots in the past year, and that poor planning from airlines’ filling positions is to blame.

“Some airlines are trying to distract from their profit-first business decisions to cut service with the fictitious claim that there is a lack of available pilots,” the union said in a press release.

“ALPA is prepared to collaborate with anyone who comes to the table, in good faith, and work together to help our industry navigate this challenging period. However, we will not allow anyone to exploit this current moment to divert attention away from their mismanagement of the pandemic relief while attempting to weaken aviation safety,” ALPA president Capt. Joe DePete said.

Hackett says many issues plaguing the airline industry today come down to pay. He says there are over 250,000 qualified pilots nationwide but approximately 85,000 airline jobs. Despite the surplus, he says many pilots are not rushing to fill the gaps in the airline industry because of concerns about their quality of life while working.

“That’s where we are today,” Hackett said. “You’re going to cancel hundreds of flights, and no airline or aircraft is exempt from having a pilot on board.”

Hackett says he’s not in favor of reducing the training hours required to become certified. Still, he believes in improving the quality of the training to prepare pilots for the technology and equipment they’ll be using in state-of-the-art planes of today.

“Whether you’re flying a smaller plane, or a commercial jet, or a corporate jet aircraft, the pilot qualifications to fly passengers is roughly the same,” Hackett said. “It’s not a quick overnight fix, and because of that problem, we’re seeing the hurt today with the lack of pilots. Training protocols have to change.”

He says the benefit of REA is that he’s training his pilots on the technology they’ll be using in the field rather than on antiquated planes, which he says not only prepares future pilots for what they will be operating at an airline but also could qualify the pilots quicker. Hackett says this can’t be the only issue addressed to resolve the pilot shortage.

“The biggest problem is we have to fix the pilot quality of life and pilot pay. We need to safeguard the industry as far as safety goes, and we can’t reduce those minimum hours for certification just to get the youngest pilots on the books that are willing to fly for less, which is what companies want to do,” Hackett said.

Hackett says there is also a need for more flight schools to train the next generation of pilots to meet the demand of airlines in the future, but he says local governments can make services like that difficult to establish.

“We also have to get more flight schools open; flight schools are busting at the seams,” Hackett said. “It was very difficult to open our flight school. We got a lot of discontinuity with the County of Chesterfield and still do to this day.”

Even if these solutions were put in place today, Hackett says that consumers should expect the impacts from the shortage to last far beyond summer.

“It’s not tomorrow, it’s not the end of the summer – we’re in trouble,” Hackett said. “As a matter of fact, this is the tip of the iceberg. This is going to get much, much worse. We’re talking about 10 to 15 years before we see an industry adjust training protocols and pilots.”

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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Travel agent offers tips for your next trip amid cancellations and disruptions

With over 7,000 flights cancelled worldwide, there were major disruptions across several airline carriers over Memorial Day Weekend.
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A flight out of ILM (photo: Peyton Furtado)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With over 7,000 flights cancelled worldwide, there were major disruptions across several airline carriers over Memorial Day Weekend. Amid the disruptions, a travel agent is offering advice before your next trip.

“Right now travel…it’s actually been booming pretty good,” Chad Dodson said. “I think that’s part of the problem that people have been running into with cancellations and delays. I think it was a little unexpected.”

Chad Dodson is a travel agent and owner of Time To Go Travel in Calabash. After COVID restrictions were lifted, he says many people were itching to travel. That, coupled with staffing issues and severe weather, has led to lots of air travel disruptions. Dodson says it’s important to have a backup plan for 24 hours before and after your trip.

“There are no guarantees when it comes to airlines, period. That’s kind of irritating because you have set times to be there at a certain time, get to another plane at a certain time, babysitting, whatever may happen,” Dodson said.

If something does cause your flight to be cancelled or delayed, Dodson says not to count on the airline to cover your hotel or food expenses. While some do provide vouchers for the inconvenience, it’s not a guarantee.

In Wilmington, ILM had no delays or cancellations listed on their website on Tuesday. Kristina Carlson was at the airport to pick up her son and says he had a minor delay in his trip, but only by a few minutes. She is a frequent flyer herself and says she’s no stranger to travel troubles and is planning a business trip to Toronto this weekend.

She booked her trip a while back and got an email on Sunday that her trip was cancelled. She called Delta and they told her the trip was not in fact cancelled and put her back on the original flight. However, this morning, things changed.

“I got another email saying that part of my trip had been cancelled. So, rather than going to Wilmington, Atlanta, Atlanta, Toronto. I’ll go Wilmington, Atlanta, Atlanta, New York, New York, Toronto. And get in with just minutes to spare for my meeting,” Carlson said.

Carlson says she typically doesn’t have issues with Delta and she remains hopeful that all goes well for her upcoming trip.

“Travel is always stressful,” she said. “I’ve been doing it so long, I just always assume something will go wrong and then when it doesn’t it feels better!”

So, when you pack the essentials for your upcoming trip, don’t forget a little patience and kindness.

“Don’t be scared of travelling. Always be nice to whoever you’re dealing with because you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar,” Dodson said.

For more information on Time To Go Travel, visit their Facebook page.

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Wedding guest budgeting tips for travel, gifts, lodging and more

CHICAGO (WLS) — Wedding bells are sounding for 2.5 million Americans this year.

After two years of COVID-related cancellations and rebookings, couples are ready to tie the knot surrounded by their family and friends.

According to a new NerdWallet survey over 50% of Americans plan to attend a wedding in 2022.

However, being a wedding guest can be expensive when you add up travel, lodging, and getting a gift.

About 4 in 10 Americans said they have skipped or considered skipping a wedding because they could not afford it.

Wedding Guest Budgeting Tips

  • Build wedding guest expenses into your budget: Prepare for the costs upfront by putting money aside now.
  • Plan to spend a little more due to inflation but you can also save by reducing personal spending habits, such as shopping strategically and trimming discretionary spending. You can also cancel subscriptions you aren’t using.
  • If your’e looking to save on a gift, check out the couple’s registry early and find something for them you like within your budget. This way you can avoid the dilemma of how much cash to give.
  • Cash in travel miles, points or redeem credits: When booking wedding travel flights, hotels, or rental cars, don’t forget about any miles or points you’ve earned, especially if you’ve been putting expenses on rewards credit cards.
  • Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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    Summer travel safety tips from Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office

    Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Summer travel continues to make a strong comeback this year, with many finally taking the big trips they’ve put off since COVID. As the prices of gas and airfare skyrocket, you may be watching your wallet, but officials with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says it’s also important to keep an eye on your belongings and the way you travel.

    “Make sure you plan your route the right way carefully so that someone knows which route you’re taking, so just in case there is a wreck and you’re unconscious they’ll know who to call and about where to call,” Calcasieu Parish Chief Deputy Stitch Guillory said.

    State troopers also recommend a proactive approach by practicing “heads up driving.” That means looking further down the road, instead of only at the vehicle in front of you.

    If you’re in a rush, authorities say you may forget the most basic yet vital item on the list – securing your home. Always double-check doors, windows and entry points to make sure they are secure, and lock all valuables away. While more and more people have security cameras installed, it’s still smart to tell a trusted person about your trip.

    “The most important thing they can do is get to know their neighbor,” Guillory said. “Make sure that you’re neighbor is aware that you are going out of town and that no cars should be there and ask your neighbor to help keep a watch for your house.”

    You can also call the sheriff’s office to alert them of your getaway, and a deputy will be sent out to patrol your home periodically.

    Lastly, keep an eye on your kids in crowded areas like airports and rest stops while traveling.

    Copyright 2022 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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