1 Destination That Made Travel Experts Fall in Love With Travel

Ask any travel expert why they got into the business, and chances are they’ll be quick to name a particular destination that stole their heart. Maybe it’s the amazing food, the vibrant art show, or the beautiful views that leave them mesmerized and thinking, I want to do this for a living.

While the options seem endless, especially for people who make a living, everyone secretly has one place that beats the others. We asked six travel experts to weigh in on the places that made them fall in love with travel.

Northern Italy


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Sarah Marston Crocker, founder and owner of Pathways Active Travel in Boulder, Colorado, grew up going hut to hut hiking in the Swiss Alps with her family. But it wasn’t until 2016, when she wasn’t working, that a trip to Northern Italy prompted her to enter the travel industry.

The idea for his active travel company was born on a rocky and steep hiking trail, Alta Via 2, in the heart of the Dolomites, a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps.

“We just climbed to the highest point on Alta Via 2 and enjoyed a gentle descent while taking in the panorama as we made our way up to Passo Pordoi and a closer view of the Marmolada Glacier,” Crocker told Talk News.

Next, Crocker visited Madonna di Campiglio, a small ski town, and was blown away by how beautiful and accessible the Dolomites region is. This visit strengthened his desire to create Pathways and share this impressive climbing experience with others.

“I fell in love with this place and its mountains – and with its warm, friendly people, culture and incredible food,” he said.

Costa Rica


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Emma Lasiuk visited Costa Rica her freshman year of college to volunteer near Manuel Antonio. He fell in love with the country’s lush green fauna, deep blue sea, and pink and orange sunsets. The locals, or “Ticos” as they proudly called themselves, won her heart next.

“I had traveled a lot before visiting here, but had never felt welcomed so warmly and safely,” said Lasiuk, who is now a travel consultant at Costa Rican Vacations. She adheres to a Pura Vida lifestyle, filling her days with hiking, morning swims at the beach, and observing wildlife.

When it came time to return to the United States, he was afraid that Costa Rica would simply fade from his memory — so much so that he immediately booked another trip and eventually moved there full-time.

“There’s something for everyone in Costa Rica, whether it’s ziplining above the treetops in La Fortuna, swinging on a suspension bridge in the dense cloud forest in Monteverde, jumping from a waterfall in the dense jungle of Manuel Antonio, or diving off the coast of the Central Pacific coast on Caño Island,” he said. “I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else.”



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Madison Ned Butler, communications manager for the Railroad Passengers Association, has seen most of the country via long-distance rail travel, but one destination in the South stands out.

“Mississippi is beautiful, complicated, joyful, brave and friendly,” they told Talk News. In 2019, Butler spent a week and a half traversing the Gulf Coast and exploring the Delta, amazed by the state’s culture and communities.

“The food, music and art are phenomenal right now. “I have seen the emergence of brilliant talent from a state that has produced many of the most famous artists,” Butler said.

Perhaps their favorite part was visiting various historical sites and museums, including the Mississippi Freedom Trail and the Civil Rights Museum near Memphis, Tennessee.

“There is a sense of hopeful change with the recognition of historical tragedy that I find very conscious and beautiful,” Butler said. “I think everyone living in the US should visit these sites and take in the history for themselves.”



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In 2006, Stephanie Chastain and her husband were looking for a destination for their honeymoon. Chastain has never traveled abroad. They chose Ireland because they had heard many interesting things about its sights and history.

Chastain, now the founder of Infinite Ireland Travel Co., told Talk News that she “was close to death” from the moment she got off the plane. He looked forward to iconic sites such as the Cliffs of Moher and Killarney National Park ― and although they were spectacular, it was the local people and sites that ultimately made the most impression on him.

She and her husband spend their days weaving in traditional shops, visiting old and small pubs, and discovering hidden gems that aren’t in their guidebooks, like a 300 AD stone fort nestled in the middle of a farmer’s field. .

After that trip, and several return visits, Chastain decided to help others experience authentic, local Ireland. People traveling to Ireland often try to get around all the iconic sites; Chastain encourages people to go slower so they have time to meet locals, explore lesser-known places, and make room for adventure.



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Nick Kembel, a travel photographer and writer, first visited Taiwan because he was curious about his new destination. He immediately felt welcomed – he said locals helped people get around and gave him tips on cheap eats.

“They’ll urge you to try their grandmother’s secret soup dumplings, or direct you to hidden night market stalls that only locals know about,” says Kembel.

However, what clinched the deal for him was his character. “From peaceful Sun Moon Lake to dramatic Taroko Gorge, every landscape tells stories, and the hike feels even more magical,” says Kembel.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona


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Years ago, Jim Pattiz, nature filmmaker and co-founder of the organization More Than Just Parks, took a spur-of-the-moment summer trip from his home in Atlanta to the Grand Canyon. This ultimately changed the course of his life. Pattiz and his crew borrowed his grandmother’s Prius and drove straight to New Mexico, followed by a visit to Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

“I grew up in Georgia, all I knew were forests and rivers, but here you can see beautiful summer storms rolling by for miles,” Pattiz told Talk News.

He remembers blue mesas, striped hills and, of course, petrified wood. The enormity of it all awakened his senses, he said, and everything suddenly seemed so exciting and possible.

“The feeling of awe and openness of open possibilities is one that I have been chasing since my journey across the American public realm,” he said.

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