The RISE Traveler: Unpacking Conversations of Sustainable Travel

The RISE Traveler: Unpacking Conversations of Sustainable Travel

The RISE Traveler podcast features eco-minded and socially conscious travelers, diversity and inclusion specialists, wildlife conservationists, environmental activists and anyone using travel as a way to uplift and inspire. In each episode, we will go a step beyond the “Instagram ready” world of travel, and take a look at how travel can be a source of growth and development for all people and all communities. This podcast is an extension of the RISE Travel Institute. A 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to empowering young travelers through educational programs, research, study tours and scholarships. Visit to learn more.


January 19, 2024 24 mins

Mira Shah is on a personal journey, exploring sustainable travel across India, Australia, Kenya, and Colombia. This is one of the reasons why she opted to participate in The RISE Travel Institute's Flagship Program- to gain a deeper understanding of conscious travel. Over time, Mira has embraced intentional and sustainable travel, placing a strong emphasis on forming genuine connections with local communities.

In conversation w...

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Laura Kelly is a sustainability advocate with Brendan Vacations, a tour operator focused on Ireland and Scotland. In this interview with host Amy Hager, Laura shares her journey from growing up in an eco-minded household to her current role evaluating and crafting sustainable travel experiences.

Laura's background in European Languages and Medieval History, coupled with her experience guiding tours in Ireland, prompte...

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Author and travel expert Lily Ann Fouts is dedicated to advocating for sustainable and culturally sensitive travel experiences that benefit both travelers and local communities. She was a participant in RISE's Flagship Program, where she earned her certificate in Sustainability and Anti-Oppression in Travel. Additionally, Lily Ann joined RISE's Experiential Journey to Guatemala in 2022.

During her conversation wi...

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Aurora Christy Oktavia, an Alumni of the RISE Travel Institute's Pilot Program, currently resides in Bali, Indonesia. She recently completed her Master's degree in International Tourism and Hospitality Management at Griffith University in Australia. In her conversation with host Amy Hager, Aurora shared insights into her journey in sustainable tourism, leveraging her educational background in forest conservation and touri...

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Tracey Ford is the Founder of Local Insights, a social enterprise dedicated to connecting locals with tourists, offering them authentic personal encounters that go well beyond the typical guidebook experience. Previously, Tracey held a government role working with the armed services, where she specialized in coordinating logistics for events with a focus on cultural considerations among attendees.

In this conversation with...

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Jabulile Ngwenya is a travel coach and advocate for sustainable and responsible travel at Travel Africa with Jabu. With a vision to reshape perceptions of travel to Africa, Jabulile's impactful work is rooted in changing the narrative. In her RISE Flagship Course Capstone Project, she focused on tribal photography, aiming to bring attention to the profound identities behind the subjects. She firmly believes that every individu...

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As the owner of Travel with Ann Experiential, Ann Becker consults with nonprofits and small travel businesses with the goal of raising and including more diverse voices, making strategic connections, contributing fresh perspectives as well as thought leadership and counseling. Ann's extensive experience includes successfully operating experiential tours in lesser-known destinations in Costa Rica and neighboring countries.

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A leader in the field of sustainability in tourism, Lambert Hategekimana is General Manager at Rwanda Eco Company and Safari. Before his 10+ years in the tourism sector, Lambert worked as an educator. Now, he works alongside some of his former pupils to introduce travelers to Rwanda and other East African countries. In 2022, Lambert was a guest instructor for the course “Conscious Travel in Rwanda” as part of the RISE Conscious Tra...

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Keri Pfeiffer, a digital nomad for almost seven years, works remotely as the Head of Account Management at WeTravel, an online payment platform for tour companies. Following completion of the Sustainability and Anti-Oppression in Travel program at RISE, Keri is now a guest instructor with the course "How to Travel Ethically as a Digital Nomad." In this interview with host Amy Hager, Keri discusses her views on being an et...

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Sofia Godoy is the Founder and Chief Operations Officer at Etnica, a social enterprise that connects locals to travelers that visit Guatemala and Mexico. She shares the history of Etnica as well as some key examples of how to plan a Guatemala itinerary that is community-based and intentional about supporting local artisans.

Host: Amy Hager - Social Media Manager at The RISE Travel Institute 
Video and Audio Editing: Ka...

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October 18, 2022 22 mins

Thinley Choden is a social entrepreneur and consultant devoted to showing travelers the "real" Bhutan as the Co-Owner and CEO of Bhutan Tours and Travel. She sits down with host Amy Hager to talk through the meaning of conscious travel, encouraging travelers to put aside the romanticized image of Bhutan and explore the multi-faceted identity of this fascinating country.

Host: Amy Hager - Social Media Manager at T...

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August 4, 2022 27 mins

Kim Hass is the President and Founder of Haas Media and the Executive Director of the public television series “Afro-Latinos with Kim Haas.” Her travel show explores the tremendous impact that Afro-Latinos have had and continue to have on the culture and history of Latin America. She shares some of her experiences creating a public television series and how she hopes the show will amplify the contributions and powerful voices of th...

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James Mwenda, Founder of James Mwenda Expeditions, shares his expertise in sustainable safari adventures and provides some tips on how to make a safari more than just an Instagram photo opportunity. He shares how to be a responsible wildlife tourist and truly reconnect with the natural world.

Host: Host (Amy) Hager - Social Media Manager at The RISE Travel Institute 
Video and Audio Editing: Kara King
Graphic Desig...

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Gabriela Sonnleitner is the General Manager of the Magdas Hotel in Vienna, Austria. Austria's first hotel run as a social business, the Magdas provides job training to refugees and asylum seekers, offering support to those struggling to find employment in the city. Listen to Gabriela explain the joys and difficulties of running a social business and elaborate on her hotel’s commitment to sustainability. 

Host: Host (A...

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March 1, 2022 24 mins

Mary Pat Champeau, Director of Graduate Programs at The Institute for Humane Education and Board Secretary at RISE Travel Institute, discusses the importance of learning how one’s everyday choices in their lives can impact their surroundings. She explores how activism is sometimes as simple as educating oneself about how the environment, human, and animal welfare are all interconnected.

Host: Host (Amy) Hager - Social Medi...

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February 21, 2022 21 mins

This week, Amy sits down with Dr. Anu Taranath, Author of “Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World.” Dr. Taranath is also co-teaching a course entitled Locating Ourselves in the Spectrum of Power for RISE Travel Institute. Through a discussion of her book and her work with RISE Travel Institute, she details how to approach difficult conversations about worldwide inequities with grace, encouraging building community a...

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Today on GivingTuesday 2021, we are raising funds for RISE Travel Institute. All donations made today will go toward tuition grants and travel scholarships for students with demonstrated financial need. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of the year. We have raised just over $6,500 so far and so we need your help to reach our goal.
Our guest is Taylor Ruoff, a tuition grant recipient and graduate of our Pilot Program. Hea...

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Hyungjoon Jin, a K-12 educator, and the Board Treasurer at RISE Travel Institute discusses his approach to making real, lasting systemic change in education and travel. He delves into his powerful and sustainable long-term project in Guatemala and gives examples of how to think strategically about the systemic issues at play in many aspects of our lives, including travel.

Host: Amy Hager - Social Media Manager at The RISE ...

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Kayra Martinez is a flight attendant and Founder and Director of the non-profit Love Without Borders for Refugees in Need, which supports refugees in Greece by building spaces where art and creativity flourish.  She touches on how she got started, the powerful stories within her refugee art exhibitions,  and the importance of travel as a method to learn, share, and create.

Host: Amy Hager - Social Media Manager at The RISE...

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September 1, 2021 31 mins

Daniel Turner discusses the intricacies of tourism and its effects on animal welfare, species protection, habitat protection, and beyond. Turner is Co-founder and director of Animondial, an organization that provides impartial advice and practical support to better manage tourism’s impact on animals and the natural environment.

Host: Host (Amy) Hager - Social Media Manager at The RISE Travel Institute 
Video and Audio ...

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