In my post on travel motivation last year I spoke about getting outside of your comfort zone and for those of you who cringe at the thought of heading out sans travel buddy, I mentioned some solo travel alternatives. One of those options was to take an educational tour and since I suggested it, I wanted to go a step further with an insider’s view as to what that might look like. In fact what better educational tour could there be for a traveler, than a guided photography excursion with a professional photographer?
Ralph Velasco runs Photo Enrichment Adventures, organizing, administering and leading small group tours with a photography focus (see what I did there?) all around the world. I initially saw Ralph speaking at a Travel Adventure Expo in Chicago; and have since run into him all over the globe. After talking to Ralph, I was immediately impressed by his attitude towards making a safe environment for his groups. He chooses extremely photogenic locations and personally scouts each of them in advance. In this Q&A we’ll get details into where he goes, how he scouts a tour and his worst travel story.
What are some of your favorite destinations to bring groups, and why?
Romania is high on my list because it’s like stepping back in time, where the old ways and traditions are still widely practiced and accessible, but still it has a developed tourist infrastructure, wonderful food and people just love it.
Cambodia is another destination my people love for many of the same reasons, plus, as with Romania, it’s extremely inexpensive, and has some of the best food in the world. Additionally, it’s very easy to travel in Cambodia because although they have their own currency, the economy runs almost exclusively on the U.S. dollar, and when you go to an ATM you can get U.S. dollars out, so if you’re from the U.S. it’s easy to know exactly what things cost.
What’s your worst travel story? What happened, how did you deal with it?
As much as I’ve traveled over the last 35+ years, I have very few stories of bad things happening to me. Knock on wood, I’ve never been mugged, assaulted, pickpocketed, lost anything of vital importance, missed a flight or train, or had anything else, other than minor things, happen to me on the road. I like to think this comes in part due to experience and preparation, plus not looking like a target, but I’ve also been very lucky, I suppose.
On my group trips, we had a flat tire on a tuk-tuk during a group tuk-tuk adventure in Cambodia, but that only took about 15 minutes to fix. Then on another trip to Cambodia we had a fan belt go out on our vehicle, but that was fixed in about 20 minutes, so no big deal at all.
In part two of our Q&A, Ralph gives his best advice on travel safety and travel photography, we also look behind the curtain into his photography roots and motivation for taking people around the world on his Photo Enrichment Adventure tours.