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We love that more and more, travelers are seeing a rise in sustainable tourism, a movement that promotes positively impacting the community, environment and economy of the destination. We had the opportunity to catch up with Misty Foster, the founder of Green Suitcase Travel — a sustainable travel platform and travel consulting company. Read on to find out about how she got involved in the industry, her travel preferences and more…  

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  1. Tell us about Green Suitcase Travel! How did you get into the travel industry?
Green Suitcase Travel is a sustainable-travel platform and travel consulting company. We “Travel on purpose” by helping travelers connect their travel choices to their values. That means something different for everyone and I love exploring what that looks like for each person and the trip they are planning. The main idea is to get people thinking about the influence their travel has on a place and how they can use that to create a positive socio-economic and environmental impact. 
 
My family did a lot of traveling growing up and we were big fans of National Parks and hiking. Apparently my dad would hike with me on his back (in a carrier) starting when I was one year old. I was exposed to a lot of nature at a very young age and I felt at home out in the wilderness. I also have a background in acting and got to go on a few touring shows throughout Europe when I was younger. That really fueled my desire to travel more. I found that being out in the world influenced my acting choices on stage in a really great way. I had more experience to draw from. Travel planning and writing is more of a recent journey, but has happened naturally in the past few years. I have a lot of customer service experience and I love finding out what inspires someone and how to creatively play that out in their lives. About two years ago, I started to examine how to combine my love of the arts, nature and travel together and Green Suitcase Travel was born. It’s been a way to integrate those ideas and share them with people who also love them and want to preserve and honor them in a holistic way. 

 

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2. What style of traveler would you consider yourself?
I feel that in order to expand as a person, you have to try new things. When I travel, I look for experiences that put me out of my comfort zone and allow me to see a different perspective. Whether that is through, bungee jumping or striking up a conversation with a stranger, in a foreign land, there are so many ways to put yourself out there. I’m a HUGE fan of slow travel and staying in one location for several days or weeks at a time. It really allows you to get to interact with a culture or place in a more in-depth way. You end up finding hidden gems, that you might not otherwise have found if say, you were on a cruise and only got to visit a city for one day. You also get to know yourself in a deeper way, because you learn to adapt quickly and make the most of your time in a place.
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3. What type of place do you stay at when you’re traveling?
Home stays are hands down my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, a hotel can be a lot of fun and I wouldn’t say no to a luxury hotel. That said, nothing is quiet as charming, personal or authentic as staying in an Airbnb or VRBO rental. I love meeting the hosts and getting to know the lay of the land via their lives. I like to feel like I’m living in a new city for a short time vs. just passing through. Plus, I’ve met some amazing hosts that I still stay in touch with.

 

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4. What’s the biggest factor that fuels your wanderlust?
Great question! I’ve yet to come home from a trip where I didn’t feel rejuvenated and inspired to look at how I can be a better person in my community at home. Each time I go somewhere, I in turn, end up feeling more connected to those I love because I gain more appreciation for them. I suppose part of it is the whole, absence makes the heart grow fonder idea. I also think it’s that you realize that we are all in this crazy thing called life together and the only way to do it is by leaning on and helping those whom you have deep bonds with. You see that theme over and over again when you travel. It shows up in the form of a child holding a mothers hand, a couple kissing at a cafe or even a stranger sitting in solitude on a bench in the park. Those moments are so cool to witness.

 

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5. What’s your favorite thing to do in your favorite destination, and why?
Horse back riding has become my “thing” when I go somewhere. Maybe it’s the Texas gal in me. I also like finding the quirky things to do in a place, for example, visit the Neon Sign Museum in Vegas or an ancient parfumerie in Italy. My favorite thing to do in Japan (my favorite destination) is to watch traditional Kabuki or Noh Theatre performances.

 

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6. What’s one thing you can’t travel without?
Ha! A toothbrush? I actually have found that most of things I think I “can’t” travel without, I can improvise with something else or just do entirely without it. I’ve gotten pretty good a packing as minimally as possible and I have a green, REI Stratocruiser suitcase that I love and can fit my life into. It’s carry-on sized too! So maybe my green suitcase 🙂

 

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7. What’s a travel hack that you swear by?
TSA pre-check! I don’t know how anyone goes without it. I’m praying for the day when it can be applied to international flights. I also swear by Flight 001’s packing cubes. They save so much space and help you to pack minimally.

 

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8. What location are you traveling to next, and what for? 
I’ll be going to South Africa next! I’m going with my dear friend, Lacy Lynch and this will be part vacation, part FAM trip. South Africa is such a popular tourist spot, so I want to be able to offer really unique suggestions to my customers and having first hand experience is invaluable. One thing, I’m really curious about exploring while there is the Great White Shark diving scene. It’s a huge draw for tourists, but not a very sustainable activity. I’ve found one tour that promotes doing it ethically and I want to investigate how that looks and if that’s even possible. The shark population is dying off in that region because of the activity. Many also believe that the practice of “chumming,” using meat to draw them towards the cage, is causing negative behavioral changes. Others say it’s not an issue at all. It’s one of those grey area activities that I think will be interesting to hash out a bit more.

 

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To find out more about Misty and what she’s up to, follow her on Twitter or check out her site for Green Suitcase Travel

 

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