Cheré Dastugue Coen
What’s your 2022 word? Mine is Eco-Tourism
Tara Parker-Pope, a columnist with the New York Times, asked readers for words that would “set the tone of their life for the next 12 months.” The words she received were surprisingly optimistic, while some had re- before their thoughts, ideas such as reboot, renew, refocus and recalibrate.
What stood out for me were the adventure words, ones that evoked traveling again, coupled with “growth and freedom,” words such as bloom, expand and liberation. Others preferred to stay home and use words that start with d and r, such as downsize and declutter, reduce and restoration.
What might look like a contradiction to some, makes perfect sense to me. As a travel writer who’s been scouring the globe since I was a child I know that travel can equal freedom, expansion of mind and consciousness and growth. On the other hand, downsizing, repairing and recovering your home life offers much of the same.
So, how are these related?
For me, it’s the bigger picture, and a personal conundrum I’ve been grappling with for years. How do we travel the world, expanding our minds learning new cultures and people while the logistics of travel aid in the disintegration of our world? Aviation travel, for instance, adds to carbon and other pollutants in the atmosphere, exasperating climate change.
The answer lies in simplicity. If we purge our non-sustainable traveling habits, nourish the communities we visit, use less of our natural resources consumed in travel, or change them to sustainable ones and possibly rebuild our planet while on the road, eco-tourism is possible.
And Mother Earth will thank you.
Which is why I started this page. The beauty of the South is in its people, its crazy traditions, its vast cultures derived from a myriad of diverse peoples. Yes, it’s a big place, but many great destinations are within a day’s drive — unless you live in Alaska or another country, of course. Road trips are amazing here, filled with unique roadside attractions, interesting people with their weird, wacky and wild stories, and naturally, some of the best food you’ll ever taste.
On this page, I’ll be introducing ways to give back, as well. You can travel to South Louisiana and help restore marshes lost to sea rise and hurricanes, work with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or the Community Foundation for Middle Tennessee to build homes or restore others after deadly tornadoes. You can forest bathe in the Ozarks, enjoy yoga on a paddleboard in the Gulf of Mexico or learn old Appalachian crafts in the mountains of North Carolina.
So, sign up for Weird South’s email to get the latest blog posts on this and other pages. We can save this planet, and keep traveling at the same time. It is possible. We’ll show you how.
Travel journalist Cheré Dastugue Coen writes the Weird, Wacky & Wild South blog. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.