JoAnna Haugen has spent decades working in travel around the world as a writer and editor with magazines and adventure brands. She finds her space at the intersection of sustainable travel, environmental conservation, and community-based advocacy efforts. In this episode, Captain Dan dives into the inspiration behind her life in travel, running her own business, initiatives on regenerative travel, and how to become a conscious slow traveler who contributes to the communities around them.
We look at how we can continue to explore our own backyards, and stay safe in the return to travel and learn ways to create our own travel-related businesses.
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Join her online courses at https://rootedstorytelling.com/courses/
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Hey adventures. Welcome to the no ordinary adventurer podcast, a place we call home for adventure and the conversations you want to have. We bring you inspiration stories from the field and talk with adventure travelers and industry experts from around the world. This is a place to fill your heart and head with travel knowledge. Now, your host Dan Blanchard, a lifelong Mariner traveler and CEO of UnCruise Adventures, a small boat adventure company defining the UN in UnCruise. Let's get started. Well, today, I'm happy to welcome Joanna to our show. For many of you, you might know the name John Haugen, because she was with the adventure travel trade association for some time, and now is off to new adventures. And I think we have one of the things that continually makes me proud and happy, I would say even happy more than proud is the number of women that are in the travel business that are expanding into new businesses and being creative during this time of CO ed. So Joanna, we are really happy to have you today. On no ordinary adventure, thrilled to be here with you today. So today is an interesting time getting all sorts of good news about vaccines and therapeutics and testing. Amidst you know, some pretty tough numbers out there. How is this work for you going out on your own plank in the midst of all this? How did that all happen? Oh, I mean, it's, I guess one could say a convenient time to be launching out on my own. I've been in business for myself for more than a decade now. And I've had a lot of contract clients along the way. And like you mentioned, I worked with a TTA for several years. And it just so happened that I was getting ready to exit and finish my contract with ATA when COVID hit the world. So actually, I was prepared and ready to go out on my own, I had launched my brand routed last fall a little over a year ago now. And so it was just starting to pick up steam. And I was planning on using this year really to build the platform. And certainly this year hasn't gone the way that any of us anticipated. But I you know I have, I'm a very optimistic person, and I am one of these people really sees the silver lining. And so this gave me a chance to really build this platform without feeling the pressures of you know, traveling to all the conferences and and trying to keep up with everything that you know, was going on out there while I was trying to build my own space internally. So yeah, it was a big time for a pivot. But I I thrive under these kinds of conditions. I've worked in my home office on my own for a long, long time. And, you know, I would really say that I thrived with what the last year has given me and I'm so grateful for all the opportunities and the time and the time to create time to reflect that that this past year has given me Yeah, boy time to reflect is a big piece of this, isn't it and hoping for a new day. So what what does rooted do what's what's it like being an editor and all this kind of stuff to those of us who don't have those fine skills, but what's the day look like typically. So I have been a writer and an editor for many, many years. That's what my training was in. It's what I've been doing since I was a little tiny kid. And so what I always knew I wanted to do and in fact, I wanted to combine my two passions of writing and travel from a very, very young age. And so, you know, my path took me down this road first as a commercial consumer facing travel writer. And I wrote for magazines and traveled around the world had a wonderful time did amazing things met incredible people. Um, but I, I found some conflicts of interest along the way. And I really struggled with understanding how to do write in a world when I was, for example, flying all over the world and how to, you know, do the ethical things as a fly by journalist and you know, these were all ethical questions that were going on. In my head, and about five years ago, I knew I needed to get out, before I became too jaded as a frequent traveler, and when your passion becomes something that you're starting to feel resentful towards, you know, it's time to take a step back. And so that's when I went into the b2b side working from the trade perspective. And I began my work with adventure travel trade association. I also was an editor at travel weekly, I've done some other editing work in the industry. And that was a really fascinating change for me, because I had a chance to look at everything from the other side, from the providers from the destinations from those who are providing the services for travelers who are coming to all these destinations. And in both instances, both on the consumer facing side, and on the trade facing side, I began to see really big gaps in the way we tell stories and the way we craft messages, and how those stories and messages are both received and perceived by travelers who are on the receiving end. And in this gap of messaging, there is a not only was there a missed opportunity of helping travelers do better in their world when they were traveling. But it was also causing damage and destruction, because we are telling a transparent story about the travel experience. So there was this gap here. But I also see that as an opportunity. And so rooted, which is my the brand that I launched a little over a year ago, his solutions platform at this intersection of sustainable tourism, storytelling and social impact. And my goal through routed really is to responsibly document support, celebrate and share sustainable travel initiatives that put communities first, and possibly most importantly, help others do the same. And so I'm working with travel service providers, destinations, content creators, to help them learn how to better use communication and messaging and storytelling. So that is what I'm doing today creating content about that topic through routed developing resources, launching courses, teaching workshops, and of course, you know, speaking to people like you to share a little bit more about what this means and how we can actually do a better job of implementing this in practice. Oil that's that is exciting. And being an outdoor boy from day one. I have to say that, you know, sustainable travel, things that work good for communities work good for the traveler, how can that ever be wrong? Right? When I hear those words coming out of your, your mouth, it just, it resonates with me how that I believe that not only we will be working up to this day for a long time of really pushing on what is appropriate travel, what is great for communities, not just the dollars and cents, but from a lifestyle presentation as well, I have a certain amount of peace knowing that you and others are out there kind of preaching the gospel of a better way of doing things. So personally, I'm really thankful that you and read it are taken on this huge task really helping shift this whole dynamic of how we view travelers not only as travel providers, but as guests and community as if it really makes me happy. So i i it's probably safe to assume they that you have a real love for for travel and touching things that are real out there. Yeah, you know, some of my most, you know, I was thinking about some of my most memorable travel experiences before I got on this call with you. And I realized there are three key features of those that really stand out in my mind and they were the places where I spent a long time in a single place, or I was traveling at a very slow speed. I'm a I'm a passionate thru hiker. And so I will spend many many, many days like just walking along the path. And then the third thing is really getting to know people and spending the time having conversations. very mundane conversations. Really, it's not about, you know, visiting all the sights or knocking all the to do, you know, items off the list at all, you know, those aren't the things that I remember when I think back on any of the most travel, memorable travel experiences I've had, was there a particular time that this all came together I think about myself, you know, I grew up on a tugboat was around the water. But if there was a certain time in life where, like, for me, the sailing on the Inside Passage just lit this passion for me for my life. And I'm curious for you, I mean, looking back at a young little girl, were there things that kind of just led you to this place, or any pivotal moments back then. And when you were a child, I was a traveler at a very, very young age, my dad actually used to take me with him on his business trips. Way back in the day, when you know, you're a little tiny kid, and you could just basically hop on a plane, people could meet you at the gate, you know, there's not all this high security or whatever. And he used to, like, go down in the morning, come back in the evening, basically, sometimes, and I would go on business trips with him. And he, you know, really rooted this idea in my mind, that world is just, it's a big place, but it's, it's so accessible, it's the world is just outside your back door. However, however many steps that might be, I did not travel overseas until late my high school years with a school trip. But we spent two or three weeks every summer as when I was a kid, traveling around the United States and camping and hiking, and, you know, looking at the leaves and looking at the paw prints on the path and it what that taught me is that it isn't about these, again, these big sites, it's about the details. It's about asking questions. It's about just being very grounded in the moment and being open minded having a sense of curiosity and wonder. And so you know, these are the travel experiences when I was little that solidified, you know, this passion me. They weren't about places, they were about that sense of curiosity, really realizing how much we can learn through questions and conversations. Thank goodness that both you and I were fortunate to have a father a parent, that that kind of opened those doors when we were young guy to like you didn't travel internationally, I was 19 or 20. And, boy, it was an eye opener. But I'm, I'm really curious as we sit there and talk about the word regenitive is one that is been in recent years used a lot. Of course, we talk that we've been talking about sustainable tourism for a long time, as I look in my mind's eye and think about, you know, how travels, changing those words apply in one way or not? And I'm curious, from your standpoint, where do we need to go? What does really that mean to you personally, when we talk about regenerative travel, when and sustainable travel going forward from? Well, maybe when we open up after COVID? What What's that world look like in your mind's eye? You know, we get really bogged down in the terminology sometimes. And really what this is, is about traveling in a way that does no harm, it does minimal harm. In my mind, the ideal is not that we're practicing sustainable tourism, but we are practicing tourism. And sustainability is done with intention. By default, it is the way we simply travel because that is the way we operate. When we think about what the future of this looks like, for me, I think, to the tourism industry, in a lot of ways continues to operate in a silo. And we talk a lot about the sustainable development goals and how tourism fits into those. And I really see an opportunity for the industry to do a much better job to support and weave itself into the Sustainable Development structure that communities already have in place. Yeah, should not exist alongside of a community. It should add value to it, it shouldn't be dictating the value of a community. So, you know, for me tourism is supporting sustainable development simply by being part of the infrastructure and community goals where it is operating. Yeah, it should just be Either way it is and it tourism. It's in addition to what already exists, it's not being dictated by the tourism industry. Wow, like that. And I liked how early on you kind of made this, that, that change, maybe the pivot is the right word but but it really being not like an adjunct to tourism, but that sustainability and regenitive tourism and, and that maybe I would say that the soft foot. That's really it needs to be who we are not just in addition to who we are. And I, boy, I really honor that I and it's fun to see businesses in the travel industry and communities grasping onto that more and more, I sat on a Tourism Committee in my hometown of Juneau. And I have to tell you, it was really exciting to hear things coming out of the community, both saying, hey, you know, we love what the business brings to us. But hey, we need you know, we need limits on this too. And, and I just love the fact that people are asking those questions and kind of rethinking what the future of travel might look like. And that's very encouraging to me. And thank you for being one of the leaders in that early on. It is very encouraging to me to hear you say that the community is speaking up and saying what they want. And hopefully, the destination representatives are being responsive to that, because I feel like a lot of the stories that we have told in the tourism industry up to this point is that it is traveler focused. And it is to be catered to the traveler, when it really needs to be focused on the community. And then if the community is not feeling like their needs and wishes are being met, then tourism is doing a disservice. It's not doing the good that it can do to the community. And so, you know, I think there are these myths about tourism, we need to be busting on one of them, is this idea that communities are second to what the travelers want? Yeah, you know, it's really been interesting as we've gone through the process, and of course, being a, you know, I was a volunteer on a public board, you know, it, it's always an interesting dynamic, because you get both ends of the scale. But what we're finding is, you know, we reflect on those meetings we had is that, you know, 90% of the people want guests in their community, and it but it's the balance and, and what is really presented in that. And, and that's a, it's an interesting thing, when you you kind of switch the table, and look at it from a community perspective, rather than, say, an individual sector and travel comes to your town or something like that, which is probably the model that was around when you and I were children type of thing, which fortunately, is changing today. It's exciting to me. So as you look into your crystal ball, let's just say for the the upcoming year of travel in 2021, what are some of the things you're wanting to focus on and see change in? And not only in your own business? I'd be very curious about that, because that brings the rubber right down to the road, right? But also, if you could wave your crystal, your wand and and make it change? What what would that be both individually for your business and for our industry? I would love to see the tourism industry doing a better job supporting social initiatives that lie outside the tourism industry. I think there's again, I think there's a huge opportunity to be supporting solutions to big global issues in community spaces that aren't defined as tourism. So I'm talking about everything from restaurants that are engaged in really creative Food Waste Solutions, or maybe intentionally hiring and supporting marginalized populations to different kinds of interesting citizen science projects in in marine environments, or even in city parks. So I would love to see tour operators and destinations alike find and amplify and support these kinds of initiatives that are already taking place in all these destinations around the world where travelers are traveling to and again, supporting what already exist, simply introducing travelers to these amazing initiatives so that they can become more engaged so they can learn About a part of a destination that is not currently part of the story. But you know, these are the kinds of experiences is that the travelers are going to take home and share with other people. These are the experiences they can't find other places. Yeah, I want travelers are the ones talking about these incredible kinds of initiatives. This is the marketing you cannot buy this is, you know, this is really powerful storytelling that's being utilized to its greatest extent. So I would love to see the travel industry doing a much better job of finding and tapping into these social initiatives that exist all around the world, and finding really creative ways to partner and collaborate with those those kinds of initiatives. So on the industry scale, that's what I would love to see, you know, coming out of the, the great pandemic process it is. Yeah, and as for myself, I've got a lot of a lot of projects kind of in the works. Right now speaking of collaborations and partnerships, I'm actually working with a variety of different partners to develop interesting kind of materials that are likely to be manifesting in the first few months of the year. I am also launching a series of master classes in the first quarter of the year, for tour operators, service providers and destination representatives to find and surface better storytelling opportunities and and learn how to utilize this readily available, but greatly untapped resource in in our own businesses. So that's happening q1, and then alongside all of that, I'm actually writing a book about storytelling in the tourism industry, why we need to be using it better, and how we can be doing that. So that's something I'll also be working on throughout 2021 Wow, that is awesome. Writing a book to cap it off. Well, I think that rocks, first of all, and because then that's just if you were writing a book, I don't care what it was about anybody who can write a book and have that kind of patience, I have unbelievable respect for, but the fact that what you're writing about, and the significance of that is, is going to be very important. I don't know about you, but one of the things that I have found that during COVID Is I'm listening to books a lot more, I'm still reading, but I'm listening a lot more, I think because, you know, things are isolated, you're driving, whatever. And so I hope that you do a voiceover as well. I'm just that on top? Well, you know, you're optimistic, big goals, right? You're right, if anybody's gonna do it, I'll find a way for sure, encourage you on with that effort of writing the book. I think that's that's just one wonderful, but I'm you know, is I'm listening to your very detailed and good input on, you know, how you're wishing and hoping and, and that's right along aligned with what we think on travel to that, you know, travel is, is a is an experience of, of moving into a community becoming part of it, rather than just there. And, and, you know, in a very positive way, not only sustainability towards the environment, but the community, all these things that I think it's kind of the the new edge, and maybe it's been around, but I think there's a new edge to that that's gonna come out post COVID. But I'm really curious now to shift gears a little bit. And I am really blessed at having a lot of powerful women around me. And my daughter, who is a director of Marine Operations and, and all just a lot of powerful women that have gone into the travel industry or business in general, and politics, whatever and making substantial differences. And I'm curious for you, and now I'm asking you as a woman, what do you see as some of the challenges for maybe someone that's listening and thinking about, you know, gosh, I either want to go into business, I want to affect my community more. What are those challenges look like for a woman entering the industry and travel. One of the challenges that women in general struggle with is this belief that if they don't have the full skill set right now that they aren't qualified? I actually am a mentor through a women in travel mentorship program. And even earlier this week, I spoke with the woman I'm mentoring, and she was telling me that she was didn't feel fully qualified to apply and interviewed for some of these positions that interested her. And statistics have shown that men will apply for those kinds of positions, they feel confident in their ability to learn. And, you know, I guess sometimes maybe fake it till you make it. And I would say that women need to have that competence just as just as much, we need to be willing to look at the list of skills that we're supposed to have, or the qualifications for something. And even if they don't all exist, if we're interested and curious and and committed to doing something, then we need to be willing to take a chance and, and apply or give it a try. Because it is okay not to be there. 100% That's how we learn. That's how we push the needle forward. So I would say, you know, just that, that both societal and mental barrier, that we are not good enough for the things that we think we're doing. Um, you know, sometimes even with my own business, I feel like I'm laying the track, right as the train is running down. And, hey, it happens. You know what I like, but but if I don't, I mean, I just told you, for example, that I'm putting on these masterclasses Q one, and I have a plan for that, but it's not fully created. Um, so you know what I'm putting it out there in the world, and I'm heading towards that goal, and things may get in the way. But that's how we move the needle forward. You know, so I think that that's, you know, just this confidence in this belief that we can do what we think we are able to do and, and be willing to put ourselves out there. One of the things that's been very powerful for me, and it's something I would advise for any woman out there who's looking to get into this industry or continue to grow in this industry is to strike yourself with other powerful women. I'm part of a mastermind of other women. I've been part of coaching circles with other women. And nobody is a better cheerleader than other women who also want to succeed. And together, everybody's more powerful when you work together. And I feel like we've seen this a lot in the tourism industry over the last couple months is this this time when people and companies that have traditionally been competition are coming together in collaboration, and I, and I think that's how we're going to succeed. That's how we're going to build back better. And that's true, whether you're a business owner, it's true, whether you are a large company, we're in this together, and if tourism is going to be better, we need to work together. So I'm all about collaboration and you know, putting the great ideas out on the table and working together to achieve them. Well, I have to say i i love the storytelling element in what you just shared with me. That was beautiful. And, you know, I couldn't help but reflect my my daughter Denae has been a captain for many years Susan are very early 30s. And when it came for her to had a chance to apply for a position in management in the office. You know, I when it got right down to her I'm saying Denae why why are you not applying you're more qualified than a any individual out there man or woman. And she said the same thing. She that you said it that Dad, I just don't feel like I have all my ducks in a row. Like it kind of had to be perfect. And, and we had, we had some really good sit down too, which increased our relationship X fold all over again, by being able to have the kind of father daughter business confidence discussion. And gosh, I love that story. So thanks for reminding me of it. I mean, and it's true to you know, every woman to some extent, I think feels that you know, mental struggle. Am I good enough? Is this the right time? You know? Yes, it's the right time. Yes, you're good enough. The only thing standing in the way is your belief for sure. That rocks that to me if nothing else happens if nobody collects anything else from this conversation. I hope that one is one that has taken home because what you've wrapped in my mind is you've wrapped up the the love for storytelling, the love for real life, the real life experience you've had as a woman in business. To me that's, that's pretty darn sweet stuff. Again, I'm loving though the whole storytelling part and how that's changing. How would we speak to our communities and this kind of thing. But specifically, you know, as we think about rooted in the next year or so, you've talked about some of the activities you're doing from the book to doing more, you know, storytelling education and this kind of thing. What part of you? If you were to pick an item, he said puts a an extra skip in your step? What would that be? Half question. Um, it was not in the pre question cheat, I just went for it because you seem like somebody that's in touch, you know, I, what I would really love to see is the impact of rooted, be, have a ripple effect so that when people think I have a story to tell, I want to empower my travelers, I want to create a better experience for the communities that I'm working in that the material that I've put out, and what they read and learn from rooted is just part of their ethos, you know, this. So there's not like one specific item I want to create or one specific conference I want to speak at. But I want the rooted message to have such deep roots in the businesses that it's touching, and the the people that are coming across it, that the ethos is part of their everyday communication and storytelling, that's what I would love. Well, that's a that's a wonderful ask, and a reasonable thing to accomplish. For sure. You know, I just love how our world of travel for not only a business owner like myself, but for you, the guests that come I just really love this new change. When I was a young man, I remember, you know, I would be running in a boat as a captain. And people were really happy to stand up on the bow of these little tiny boats with a glass of cognac and a cigar and look at the glacier. And and today, you know, that doesn't make it they want, they want to touch they want to feel they want to experience and want to have quiet in the wilderness. And these are all things that I believe that storytelling can bring to the table and a mindset of building our businesses off of really that whole sustainable regenerative, how are we going to carry this on for a long time together has been exciting. Now is there a way that people can get in touch with you that they're just like, I need this woman on my team writing some sustainable storytelling stuff, I would love for anybody to reach out to me on LinkedIn, drop me a note, let me know that you heard this conversation. I'm a big believer in LinkedIn and actually maintaining all those contacts that I make there. You can find rooted online at rooted storytelling.com I love that you include the whole name right in there, that just tells the story, per se. Yeah. Is there anything else that you would just like to share that maybe you you've been aching to get out there? Or that we missed? Yeah. Okay. So I have, I have one other thing that I am really passionate about sharing when I have this opportunity to connect with others in the business. And it's this. I feel like sometimes, you know, when we're talking about all these big challenges in our industry, and we're dealing with the climate crisis, and we're dealing with racial tension, and you know, where do we start? What do we do, it's also overwhelming. And, you know, one of the things that I do in my work, and I'm a big believer that anybody should do is the adoption of this guest and mindset, because I feel like, you know, we get really caught up again, feeling like we need to be perfect that we need to have the perfect solution before we make any emotion. And I just would really love to encourage anybody who's listening to this to really step back and think about adopting a yes and mindset. Yes, we need big sweeping changes to deal with the climate crisis. And it absolutely matters that you say no to the plastic straw when you order at a restaurant. And yes, we need to find better ways to engage our travelers so that they become more engaged citizens. And we can start tomorrow by turning a question into a conversation. So you know, this adoption of a yes, and mindset really opens the doors for growth and opportunity and ways to develop and strategize and innovate moving forward. And it's the easiest thing that you can do. Starting right now. I love what you said, you know about just the simple action of saying no to a plastic straw, because if we get used to saying no to a plastic straw, we get used to saying no to other things that are not sustainable. And I love that use that example. Because you know, it the end of the day movements happen because there's this massive lift of tide of people. And it's not necessarily a single person leading a charge. It's a massive amount. It's a generational thing a generation making the change. I appreciate so deeply all you shared, and I hope the time will come when COVID ends, we can go on one of those long walks because I'm a big Walker. And in fact, I will tell you that one of the coping mechanisms I've had at stressful times throughout my life is keeping my daily walk to and from work. It's about three miles each direction. I do it almost every day. And it's like it just clears all the cobwebs out. I love that. Thank you so much. Thanks for joining the podcast and we'll look forward to Crossing Paths again. Thank you so much for having me today. Thank you Take care thanks for listening to no ordinary adventurer sharing locally harvested stories about adventure. Be sure to subscribe, leave a review, tell a friend and help spread the word. We are a community of nature lovers, intrepid travelers and outdoor adventurers mostly from the comfort of a small boat and we want to spread our love of this fascinating planet. That's it for this episode. Now get outside