A review of Majahuitas Resort, an eco-resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Eco Love at Majahuitas Resort

A review of Majahuitas Resort, an eco-resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
We wait down the hill in Boca de Tomatlan. It’s humid, but a fan blows gently on us, cooling me down … and my french fries. Icy cold Corona placed on the wooden table in front of me, I look off into the distance, squinting for signs of a little motor boat coming to whisk me and my friend away for three days of bliss at the Majahuitas Resort, an eco-friendly property tucked into a private cove south of Puerto Vallarta.

At 4 p.m., as scheduled, our boat arrives and the driver grabs our suitcases and drops them in the boat, then takes my hand and guides me down into our transport as it bobs ever so gently on the water. Once my friend, Mike, is in, our journey begins.

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The Gift Guide for Travelers featuring only sustainable gifts and gifts which give back to local communities. For more, visit www.dtravelsround.com

The Best Gifts for Travelers

The Gift Guide for Travelers featuring only sustainable gifts and gifts which give back to local communities. For more, visit www.dtravelsround.com

There are so many gifts for travelers on the market, and will soon be an onslaught of online gift guides for travelers. But, this guide is different.Welcome to the second edition of The Feel Good Gift Guide, which highlights some of the best gifts for travelers in your life.

Why?

Below, you will find only sustainable gifts that are either locally sourced or give back to communities. So, keep that special traveler (or travelers) in mind and get shopping for the holiday season today and give the travelers in your life something special! And, people who know me, these are ALL excellent gifts for a certain person you know.

Enjoy!

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The reality of elephant tourism in SE Asia. An in-depth post on the truth about riding elephants, shows and more in Southeast Asia.

The Truth About Riding Elephants

The reality of elephant tourism in SE Asia. An in-depth post on the truth about riding elephants, shows and more in Southeast Asia.

I watch, happy tears swelling in my eyes, as the first of two rescued ex-trekking elephants walks off of the truck, backing out slowly and cautiously placing her hind legs, one-at-a-time, on the ground.

It’s pitch black, save for a few flashlights and one camera light. Around us, cicadas, frogs and crickets all compete to pierce the oh-so-still night.

She walks softly, crunching dried grass, as we follow behind her. Slowly, slowly she walks. To freedom. At the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary.

From this moment forward, she will never have to strap a 200-pound bench to her back. From this moment forward, she will never have ropes cutting into her. A bull hook threatening to slash her ear, forehead or neck. She will never have the weight of a person on her. But, most importantly, she will never again be exploited for a human’s need to cross “riding an elephant” off of some bucket list or posing atop her back for a selfie.

Even though I no longer live in Thailand, I receive emails from readers regularly who ask: Should I ride an elephant? What’s the truth about riding elephants in Thailand and the rest of the world?

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Questions to ask about volunteer vacations

Questions to ask about volunteer vacations

Editor’s Note: I recently contributed to a book about volunteer vacations and how to be responsible when choosing one. Details are at the end of this post.

I remember when I first booked my volunteer “vacation” to Thailand. My friends thought I was nuts.

“Who takes time off of work to go and work in a foreign country?” they had all asked me when I announced I was spending one week of my 12-day holiday as a volunteer at Elephant Nature Park (ENP).

I’ve never been one to take conventional vacations, so while everyone else questioned what I was doing, it made sense to me. After learning about ENP and Save Elephant Foundation, and the vital role travelers play in keeping both the foundation and the park alive, I felt it was important to go and give back.

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Are tourists ruining Venice?

Asking the question are tourists ruining Venice?

In front of me, a sea of people spans in all directions, even as the gray clouds above us threaten to burst.

Deep in the heart of San Marco Square, and what I deem the heart of the touristic center of the main island which makes up the step-back-in-time Venice, the tourists are unavoidable. In fact, here they are more in my face than any other place I have visited (and I am counting the mass of people gaping at Mona Lisa at the Louvre). It is shoulder-to-shoulder packed and puts me into the throes of those tense, pre-anxiety attack moments where all I want to do is throw elbows and make my way from where my packed water taxi has deposited myself along with the other throngs of tourists, through the massive square, and down into the veins of the town where my hotel is.

But, I can’t.

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Responsible tourism twitter chat: what you need to know

“Responsible tourism” isn’t just the latest catch phrase in the travel universe. These two words are slowly changing the way people travel. With more attention being placed on the environment, people and animals, a shift is beginning to be made towards a more responsible, more ethical way to see the world.

Lucky elephant

Lucky, a blind elephant rescued from the circus in Thailand, takes her first steps toward freedom at Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for pachyderms outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand

Recently, both STA and Intrepid announced they would no longer offer elephant rides as a part of their tour packages — a major coup for people like me whose goal is to help protect these majestic creatures, but also to educate people on the truth about elephant (and other animals) involved in tourism. But, responsible tourism stretches far beyond just elephants. It is everywhere, and now, each week, there will be a chat on Twitter to help educate others regarding how to be more responsible, but also to share their stories and more.

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Tourists behaving badly: how to be PC in Thailand

Tourists behaving badly. It happens everywhere. I’m sure you’ve seen it: drunken bar fights with locals over a bill. Tagging an historic landmark. Taking smiling group photos in places which are disrespectful (like Auschwitz).

Living as an expat in Thailand, I am treated to this display of very non PC behavior/stuff to make Thais blush daily. It ranges from the minor no-nos (like ladies not covering your shoulders/knees at a temple) to the obscene (like men not taking “no” for an answer at a bar with bar girls). It really bothers me because a) visitors either don’t bother to read up on etiquette before visiting this amazing country and opt for a “head in the sand” or possess the “what works in my home country surely works here” assumption; or b) they know better but choose to disregard cultural norms, simply justifying their holiday as their holiday, which allows them to act however they deem fit (or unfit).

For those planning a trip to Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, here are some important things to keep in mind:

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