Join Captain Dan Blanchard and special guest Alice Ford, a stuntwoman and adventure traveler as they discuss the ever-changing world of adventure travel. From growing up in the woods of New Hampshire to becoming a travel show host and successful stuntwoman in LA, Alice shares her journey and provides insight on making it in the industry. Tune in to hear about the challenges of marketing yourself in today's world, how to get noticed, and the latest trends in sustainability and adventure travel. Don't miss out on this exciting episode of No Ordinary Adventure!
Find more at https://alicesadventuresonearth.com/
Connect with Alice on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alicesadventuresonearth/
And Twitter: https://twitter.com/alicelford
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Well welcome everyone. My name is Dan Blanchard. I'm the owner and CEO of UnCruise Adventures here with another cast of no ordinary adventurer. And today I have a special friend, Alice, who I met Well, it's now been a year and a half ago. Alice was in Juneau my home. And we spent some time together around Juno, we walked around a little history walk and, and all that kind of thing. So I it's a real honor for me to have Alice onboard with us today. And Alice, maybe, you know, just to start out, people kind of know what I'm doing with UnCruise Adventures following the blog and such, but tell us a little bit of a big picture view of, of what Alice's Adventures on Earth is all about. Absolutely. And first of all, thank you so much for having me. And I really enjoyed seeing Juneau through your eyes and coming to Alaska for the first time what an amazing trip that was. But to give you guys a little peek into Alice's Adventures, I am an adventure traveler, I have a YouTube channel. And I've been documenting my adventures for almost the last 10 years now. So it's been quite a while I do a lot of national park exploring, I do a lot of World Heritage Sites, and just really cool unique adventure destinations, like Alaska, which is where I met you for the first time, which was so fun. But I really love hiking, backpacking, and just getting out into the wilderness or having close up encounters with wildlife, and also learning about our world and sharing that knowledge with people that watch. And that's really the the thing that I'm trying to do with my YouTube channel and my blog, and also my ecotourism website that I have. So I just want to inspire more people to travel, and not just travel in a, you know, in a shallow way, but really get deeper into the culture and the wildlife and learn a little bit and be able to take that home with you too. That is so cool. Like that is where that kind of epitomizes where I think the adventure travel is today. You know, back when I was probably your age, adventure travel had more of a just a rugged, you know, adventure, and it was typically Oh, I have to have claiming Iran to really be considered adventure. But today that that is really broad and hasn't it? It sure has. Yes. And I do a little bit of that too. You know, sometimes I've got climbing gear on, but sometimes I'm just, you know, out looking for bears like I was in Alaska, or, you know, hiking through a river or meeting with an indigenous culture or trying some unique food that I've never tried. So yeah, adventure travel has definitely grown. And I'm glad that it's become a more widespread way for people to travel. And a lot more people are getting into it as well. Yeah, me too. I think the whole idea of authentic, meaningful, really touching the destination through an adventure travel model is so so cool. But I'm curious. Let's talk about you a little bit more. And you know, I'm curious how this beautiful young woman managed to get where she's at how did it start? I mean, did you did this start with your family? And how did you go from being a young person probably didn't have any clue what you were going to do in life to get into adventure travel was a part of your childhood that brought you here. I definitely would thank my father for where I've come in my life to this day. It's not that I thought as a child that I was going to be some sort of adventure travel host, although I did watch Samantha Brown and really always wanted to have a travel show. But I've never been the luxury hotel beach vacation person. I grew up in the woods. My dad was like, huge conservationist. We not only did we donate to, you know, Defenders of Wildlife, and for forest conservation in places all over the country, but we had 40 acres of woods. We had a swamp we had a river, we had bears and moose and wild turkeys on the property and my dad was like a huge hiker and backpacker, he was a free climber when he was, you know, in his 20s and 30s, a river guide and a Grand Canyon. So he did all these just adventure sports and was a guide for adventure sports, you know, in the 60s and 70s. And so I grew up with him obviously, as my dad and he just had this. This just passion for the outdoors. And that obviously rubbed off on me. I'm just I'm curious where this growing up took place. What part of the world were you in? I grew up in New Hampshire, and we were about two hours from Boston. About an hour and a half from Manchester, so in northern New Hampshire, and it's wilderness, really no neighbors until I was in high school. And even so then I think we had, you know, it's like one person per square mile. In New Hampshire, so you really just, it's like, okay, you want to go play, like enjoy being out in the woods. And like, you know, we'll see when it gets dark kind of mentality. I had an older sister or have an older sister as well. And, you know, we would just go play in the woods. And even my best friend who lived, you know, maybe a couple miles down the road, we would just ride our bikes and meet up and go hang out in the woods. I remember, when we were maybe like 14, we had a river behind my house, and it was a year that got a lot of rain. And so we were like, Let's go whitewater rafting. So my dad bought us an inflatable raft. He stashed it down in the woods by the river, which was like maybe half maybe like a mile from the house. And so he was like, whenever you girls want to go like the boat is tied up down by the river, like, enjoy yourself, and try not to get lost. And so one day we went I don't know if it was like a weekend or whatever. We went on this whitewater rafting adventure, or just her and I and and we ended up obviously quite a ways downstream. And like swampy part of the river, our raft at that point had like, almost completely deflated because we'd hit so many rocks and beaver sticks. And it's like, yeah, we made it home. We walked back on the road. But yeah, I mean, that's the kind of childhood that I had. It was just, whenever you want to have an adventure, just go have an adventure. Yes. And I've lived in a lot of places. Since my upbringing. I obviously live in Los Angeles. Now we're, that's not the easiest thing to just go out and do on your day to day. But that's what I'm able to do on my show and on my YouTube channel is be able to still have those kinds of adventures, I just have to go a little bit farther now than my own backyard. Well, that's true. So you've kind of explained the why of my next question, which is, you know, how did you go from being the daughter of an adventurer who who basically the the net fell close to the tree? It sounds like to me. And you adapted your, your father's wonderful guidance and kind of showing you the outdoors? But how did that that shift from this personal thing into Oh, my gosh, I'm gonna make my living doing this, I want to, you know, go forward in a different way. How did that happen? Well, I think something that I always really enjoyed was talking on camera. And so I didn't live until, by the way, I didn't live in a market ever really, until I moved to Los Angeles, that that was a possibility of being able to host different things on camera. But it was something that I always wanted to do. And so I had, you know, I would get these like small little infomercial jobs and all the different cities that I lived in. And when I finally moved to Los Angeles, and got involved as being a stunt woman, I met, actually, my boyfriend now. And I told him that I had this, this, like, drive to have my own travel show. And he said, Well, nobody's gonna just like, find you at a, you know, a target and say, Hey, us to travel show. So he was like, if you want to do that, like, just start doing it, make it you know, there's YouTube, there's all these things, or we will make a pilot and we'll see if we can sell it to production company, but nobody's gonna find you if you're not out there doing it yourself. So I was like, Okay, that was the that was what I needed to hear to give myself the the permission to go out and start actually putting stuff on camera and doing what I wanted to do for more than a decade, but was just afraid to go out and do it. Yeah. And so that's kind of what started things. He helped me film my first ever episode, which was, we went to Cambodia. We went to Bali. We went to Malaysia and hiked the tallest mountain in Borneo. And then we went to Australia, and did some of the World Heritage Sites in Australia. And so that was my first ever episode. And we sent it out to like some production companies and tried to go that route. Then everyone said, Well, you don't really have any experience on camera. And I was like, Well, that's true. So I was like, Okay, I'm just gonna stick with it. I'm gonna see where this goes. And YouTube at the time wasn't that popular. But I realized eventually that, oh, this could be a really great outlet for me to be able to have the travel show that I want and to be able to go to the places and showcase not only my skills as a host, but also I teach people about different places in the world, all the things that I've loved since I was a little kid, because as a kid, even I would just get so into a different destination and share it with everyone today. Oh my gosh, have you heard about Tasmania Do you know? So it was an easy step. And I'm glad that someone finally was like, here's the permission that you need to go out and just make your dreams come true. Because that's kind of what started it. And obviously, since then, I have spent a ton of time learning about editing and filmmaking. And not only that, but just researching different destinations and putting them together into kind of concrete show ideas and things like that to be able to have the different series that I have on my channel. So there, there are some things I've learned in doing some research prior to are getting together today. I knew for instance, that you had a master's in environmental education. You and I talked about that. But the stuntwoman thing, did not pick that up. So what came first? Was it a stuntwoman or the masters. So the master's degree actually came first. So and yeah, so I have a master's degree in environmental management. So I actually went to college. As I said, my first two years at Vermont, and I transferred to Arizona. Unfortunately, when I was at Vermont, University of Vermont, my degree was actually going to be in community development, which is a really obscure major, but it's basically a degree that would allow you to go and help people in third world countries sustainably develop their resource management. So like, I could have gone to Africa and helped farmers figure out how to sustainably manage their crops in ways that they hadn't done before, or, you know, similar things in in developing nations. So they didn't have anything like that at Arizona. So I ended up just getting a sociology and Public Administration degree. And knowing that that wasn't really what I wanted to major in, because my whole goal always had been like, I just want to go and help save the elephants or someplace else that sounds like yeah, and wildlife or something. So my job that I got right out of college was in sales and marketing, and they had a great program to be able to help pay for your master's degree if you wanted to continue in education. And so that was a fantastic opportunity for me to go and get the degree that I really wanted in the first place, and have my work, pay for some of that. So that was really fantastic. And I, I knew going into it that I didn't think that I would quit the job that I had and go into conservation work right away, I wanted to be able to have a really rich and fulfilling life, and then be able to still go back to that when I had enough money to not care about only making 30 or $40,000 a year as I would have as someone in a conservation or environmental job. And when I started my Alice's Adventures, it was really a way for me to be able to kind of take these two different worlds, that don't always seem like they have a lot of synergy or didn't used to, and be able to combine them into one thing and say, Okay, well, I can inspire people to travel. And I can also educate them on, you know, conservation and wildlife and geology and ecology and all these things that, for me are like, so important to be able to know when you look at a place. I mean, one of the things I loved about Alaska, I was learning about all of the different plants that you guys have like in the Tongass National Forest that are so different than what you see in the rest of the United States. And that's something that I am always so fascinated by when I travel. And I wouldn't necessarily have that background without that education to be able to share that with people. Wow, that's a lot. But I'm still curious. I mean, I, this picture you painted for me is really good. The education background, how your dad led you to kind of get to the education background, and then you moved to LA and travelled to Borneo and Australia and all that stuff. But I mean, do you just walk along the streets of LA and people come up? You should be a stunt woman. I mean, how in the heck, that just seems is that kind of part of the credential for being an adventure traveler. You need to be a stunt woman. Well, maybe but I guess a big part that I've left out is that, you know, as a child, I actually was in competitive gymnastics. I was also a runner, a skier. I did a lot of sports, probably because of my athletic dad. But so in college, I actually also was on the diving team, the gymnastics team and the track and field team. And so when I got out of college, and then I moved to New Orleans before I moved to La and I ended up meeting a lot of people in film and television. And they all knew that I was at the time still pole vaulting and trying to make the Olympic trials for 2012. And they were like, Oh my gosh, you're like a super athlete, you should be a stunt woman. And I at the time was like, I don't know what that is. I don't know what that entails. You know, uh, do you even get paid? Well, for that? I was like, who knows. But I found out some details and realized, oh, this might be like a really cool job. Even if I don't do. It was? Well, it's always a, you know, the quicker things that come into our life that just adds spice to it. And and I have to say, this is one of the best ones I've ever heard. As far as going down a different path, it's still supported what you were doing. You came into this, some years ago. Now, you know, the industry back, you know, when I first started, everything was print. And there was a lot of video out in the travel industry world, there were a lot of travel writers, and that all switch just prior to probably you coming on the stage. So I mean, how did that switch for you from kind of having this this idea that I want to go out there, you mentioned you and your boyfriend talking about, you know, starting the show, but what are some of them nuts and bolts that you had to do to, you know, get noticed and be found? Well, I mean, I still struggle with this today. So I don't know that it's, there's no easy answer to this marketing yourself, I think is one of the biggest, the hardest things anyone has to deal with, as an individual like, or an artist, you know, because I guess at the end of the day, that is what I am as an artist of multimedia form. And it is really difficult to try to find an audience, especially with, you know, as you know, social media, for the large part is based on an algorithm and a search engine. And it's not based on necessarily what you want to make, but what people are googling. And so I think, you know, when I first started on YouTube, I was making this series called Green and fabulous, it wasn't really about travel at all, it was about different types of sustainability. And they were kind of like cheeky, like videos on, okay, like everyone should have a reusable water bottle, you might not want to have it because it doesn't look cool. But guess what, and I would like to snap my fingers and out all of a sudden be in the dazzled outfit and be like, what's the dazzle this water bottle and you're gonna love it? I would have to go search for that one. So starting off with this series, called Green, if I was in every video would end with like, I know, it's hard. Fabulous. Okay, so everybody listening, did you just get that characterization right there, that was awesome. started on YouTube. And because for me, the whole thing was, well, I really want to share my environmental, you know, ideas and love for protecting the planet. And but nobody was searching for that. So, you know, that transitions back into, okay. It's got to be national parks, or it's gotta be something that's like, really highly searched here in the US? No, but I mean, I do this every year, it's, it's always trying to figure out what the trends are and what people are looking for in travel in this year, so it's not always about exactly what I want to do. But I have to kind of play the balance there of what are people looking for? And also, how can I fit in what I want to do with what's going to be optimized for social media? Yeah, so it's definitely a challenge. And I think as far as making people recognize me, it's obviously very difficult. In today's world, there's so many content creators, so many people making great content. But I think I have a little bit more of a niche than a lot of people because I'm not just showing you a pretty place. I'm helping you learn more about it. And I'm also taking on a really cool adventure. So that's kind of what separates me from from other people. And I think that's why a lot of people like watching my stuff as well. I like that. I what I really like and I think we're your message from the podcast or the cast I've seen on YouTube and this kind of thing. The fact that you do mix in the environmental stewardship message through it's just like it's a woven piece of what you do. And I find that to be extremely valuable in today's world and, and I think that you know, it's it's speaking on behalf of, you know, the, at least parts of the travel industry. that's become a bigger and bigger concern for all of us. You know, it wasn't very long ago that Tongass National Forest where you visited in Juneau, you know, the roadless rule had been removed and a political situation. And, you know, just last week after a lot of strong efforts by me, you and all the people that support wilderness, it was reinstated after what, almost six years. And so I do believe that that's a critical piece of, of how people if they're not traveling that way with those concerns now, they probably will be in time because it's getting to be a resounding message and travel today. And I see it in your your cast as well. I mean, it's at it. When you balance this out between travel and environmental you, do you kind of try to weigh where that's at and you how do you make a decision? Is this going to be an environmental piece? Or is this going to be purely travel? Or are they truly woven together? Yeah, it's absolutely woven in. I don't think I could talk about a place without incorporating conservation and ecology and just like information about wildlife and how it works and, and that kind of thing into a conversation. In my videos. I do a lot of voiceover in my videos. And right now, I'm kind of just tightening up the script that I have for this Galapagos video. Yeah, I mean, I'm talking about, you know, when sea lion pups are born, how the mothers interact with him, when you'll see them on the beaches, I'm talking about the different currents in the Galapagos, and how that affects the nutrients that come into the waters. And that's why there's so many different species, there are different times of the year. So yeah, I think for me, I don't think that I, I mean, I can definitely separate them if I have to, but they're definitely woven together. Well, that's a I think an important thing is we all go forward now, personally, thank you for for making it that way in your own work and lifestyle. So as you as you look on the travel environmental side, believe that the CELT woman in the movies aside for just a minute, if you look at the side that we're talking about, which is, you know, traveling with an environmental awareness, you know, leaving footsteps, rather than, you know, a mess, or you know, all products and all this kind of thing, what would you say, has been the biggest challenge for you personally, in developing this model that you want to develop with Alice's wonderful Environmental Network and on YouTube and such, when we talk about the environment, it shouldn't be political. But in the United States it is. And so the difficulty, especially on YouTube is finding that fine line and not crossing it when you're talking about conservation and wildlife, and especially environmental policy, one of the things that I did during the pandemic was started kind of a new series that I originally had on my main YouTube channel, that was called Nature news. And I just talked about current events in nature, whether that be environmental policies, or endangered species, or sometimes like wolves, and what was going on with the Endangered Species Act with them. The problem was, I have a lot of variety of people on my YouTube channel. As as adventure travel often has a large variety of people from all sides of politics. And a lot of people felt that these videos were too political. And so I actually had to start an entirely new channel for that realm of videos that were environmental, that were this passionate side of my, you know, environmental side that I wanted to be able to share these things that are rare, very rarely, actually in the news, that was difficult for me to move those off and have a different channel for those. Because I, it's just hard to understand why the environment is political. So those kinds of things are a challenge, especially on YouTube. But I've spent my fair share of time in Washington, DC and, you know, meet with both sides of the aisle. And one thing I've noticed, I think this is encouraging analysis that there there are a certain number of people regardless of political affiliation, that are that have been awakened to this whole situation and truly care regardless of which parties they may belong to. And I'm looking forward to maybe the day when you're my age, and we can sit down and talk someday I'll be a real old man by the way. But will it be fun if we could sit here and talk and another 25 years about what happened compared to 2023. What's our world look like from in the United States? Because I believe that there is this solid move to to take care of our planet that doesn't speak to politics. That is actually genuine. We're not there yet. But I think it's happening. Are you getting any vibe on that? Well, one thing I will say that definitely has changed in the last month, to a couple months, is that sustainable travel, ecology conservation are in so many more conversations now than they were a year ago or two years ago. And I think that is really fantastic. It's, it gives me a lot of hope, especially in travel to see so many more companies, so many more corporations starting to change the conversation towards sustainability and what they're doing as far as waste and water usage and also community and the types of people that they're supporting and employing AND, and OR displacing. I just love that there's a lot more honesty in the conversations that are happening. And that's really helpful for for the world. Yeah. Wow. So speaking of the world, give me your your next business trip all say, and then give me what is the place you're just jonesing to go? Well, you've been there before or not, I was actually going to go to Nicaragua on Friday, but I'm probably going to wait now until the end of the month. And that is just a random I did one of those like, you're gonna spin the globe. And wherever it lands is where you're gonna go. So that's probably going to be the next destination. But then on my board, which you can't see, but it's over on my my other wall over there. places I really want to go. I would say, in the top five Papa New Guinea is on there have been a lot too. I really want to do New Zealand, Tasmania, that whole area of the South Pacific of the world there. And a place I wanted to go for ever is this place called Mount Roraima. It's in Venezuela right on the border of Brazil. It's very hard to get there. And I was in December trying to figure out if I could finagle a way to get there in January, but I was unable to kind of logistically figure it out, especially if I was traveling solo, which I often do. So that one is just always on the board of like, When am I gonna get there because I have to go. And Mount Roraima was a place that inspired the Land of the Lost this huge Table Mountain that has like waterfalls and is often in fog. It's very beautiful. But it's obviously in a country that is not super safe to travel to all the time and difficult to take up their planes and any sort of transportation. Wow, that's wonderful. I have not been there. But I do I have spent a lot of time in the Pacific and Asia and spent months in Vanuatu and I, I highly suggest that one. The other one I would just toss out to you that is just a wild place is Solomon Islands would be one that you know, if you love the idea of analogue to you're going to love the Solomon Islands, you know, once you get out of the main city, like so many times, compared to Mara and society in the West, it's probably more like 1890 than it is 2023 in so many ways. I've always found it interesting when you travel to remote areas of the world. You know, they tend to leapfrog things. For instance, when I used to travel, the Solomons, they didn't have telephones, but all of a sudden in one year, they had cell phones. And because it quit cell phone towers in the islands, and all of a sudden they have internet through the Sci Fi tower. And they had nothing prior to that, you know, no, no dial up phones, no electricity, still don't have electricity that to make it. It's just really interesting when you travel kind of the backwoods parts of the world like you're talking. Yeah, I was in the Amazon this time last year. And yeah, they do have internet but only once a week for a couple hours. But yeah, I mean, it was fantastic being there. I stayed with an indigenous tribe and you can't put like a price tag, or repeat those kinds of experiences. Well, you know, this has been a really good time. I just enjoy sharing with I hope you get back up to Alaska. And somehow we get you on one of our boot someplace else. We just finished up up Belize and Guatemala startup that was just awesome, hitting all that out of the way places, but hopefully we can get you on board here sometime in the next year or so. Get up get on another UnCruise adventure. But until then, I just think that we should tell people how to get in touch with you and how they can find you because I find your stuff very intriguing. I'm gonna go back and look for for the water bottle. I don't recall if outlet at all. It was probably way back. But But how can we how can people reach you? How can we find you online? Yeah, well you guys can find me I have my website, which is Alice's Adventures on earth.com, which has links to everything. Or you can check me out on YouTube at Alice Ford adventures. And or you can just usually type my name Alice Ford into Google and find everything as well. So whichever way you want to go about it, true, true. True. Yeah. Well, it's good stuff. Well, Alice, thank you so much for coming on board. I've learned more about you kind of seen how this path got you to where you're at today. And I'm serious. We need to Let's Let's put on our calendars, let's say 20 years from now. Okay. 20 years from now, Let's both go forward on our calendars. I'm gonna get a hold of Alex Ellis is going to get a hold of me. And we're going to talk about the environment and how I hope and pray. It's not a political thing in the United States anymore. It's a definite date. And thank you so much for having me on. This has been so fun. It's nice to see you again. And yes, I hope I can join you in the future on another UnCruise adventure. I look forward to chatting again. Well, this has been a really great time talking with Alice, learning about her adventures and such and I just want to thank you all for attending this podcast today. Great news about the environment in Alaska. The as we talked about the podcast the roadless rule is back after being a fight over the last six years to maintain something that had been in place for such a long time and the Tongass National Forest, but it was removed even though 85% of the residents of Southeast Alaska wanted the roadless rule to stay. The federal government removed it of course, eventually, through a lot of work part in part from UnCruise Adventures, but also our guests and the entire community of Southeast Alaska I would say that 85% We managed to convince the federal government that the roadless rule needs to stay that preserved places like Southeast Alaska and the Tongass are rare on our planet. And you know what they did? So that is great news. I wish you all the very best. This is Captain Dan Blanchard of UnCruise Adventures, saying See you later. And I look forward to talking to you next time on no ordinary adventure.