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Emily Strauss

I’m an avid nature lover who uses every excuse I can to get out and hike, swim, bike or climb. Experiencing the natural beauty of a destination is always one of my top priorities when traveling. I also believe in scaring myself often. Whether it’s skydiving or jumping off waterfalls, I’ve always found that a little adrenaline is good for my overall physical and mental health.

I'm forever on the lookout for authentic experiences and new perspectives. I want to get to the heart of local cultures and learn about their history, as well as their modern lifestyles. Before travel and I were introduced, food was my first love! So one of my favorite side effects of an active travel style is the extra calories it makes room for. There are so many meals I’ve had while traveling that I still melt at the memory of, so making the most of every meal is an essential part of any trip for me.

How did you get involved in travel?

"As one of 9 kids, I didn’t grow up traveling. I grew up in Central Texas dreaming about all of the beautiful places I wanted to see. My first 3 trips out of the U.S. were voluntourism trips. I got to see Mexico, Trinidad and Costa Rica while being fully immersed in the every day lives of the locals. Those trips have very much shaped my view of what travel can be, and it’s that vision that has lead me to being a travel specialist. I’ve experienced first hand the frustration that can come with spending countless hours researching, only to end up in tourist traps, completely disconnected from the authentic pulse of a destination. It’s my passion to help others break out of the tourist ruts with experiences specially tailored to their passions. Whether that’s through food, nature, art or meaningful cultural exchanges, travel can be so much more than just a vacation!"

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"On my first trip to Costa Rica we camped on a remote Bribri reservation. We were working on a construction project when it started pouring rain. As we took shelter we sat and watched our tents flood and wondered how we would make it safely across the river the next day if it kept up. As we sat there, I noticed one of the local boys holding a beachball nearby. All I had to do was smile at him and he knew exactly what I was thinking. Before I knew it, half the kids in the village had joined us in our slippery mess of a beachball soccer match. I was never one to participate in sports and had never even attempted to play soccer. Yet there I was, sliding around in the mud with a dozen kids giving it their all. After playing for a while the kids started yelling at us to follow them down to the river. So we all took off barefoot to see who would get there first. We spent the afternoon swimming and skipping rocks in the river until the rain stopped.

Exhausted and muddy, running through the village back to our campsite, I remember thinking I was the luckiest person in the world to have an experience like that. "

Featured trips & expertise

Sail through the Geirangerfjord on the Hurtigruten
Discover Norway's Cities and Fjords - 14 Days

This zealous (yet relaxing) and unbelievably scenic 14-day itinerary checks off Norway's three biggest cities traveling by train, ferry, and fjord cruise for a true Scandinavian adventure. Start off in Norway's buzzing capital with its new waterfront promenade before you take one of the steepest trains in the world to the village of Flåm. You'll ferry through the longest fjord in Norway and explore Bergen on your own and with a local guide. From here, board the Hurtigruten—a mighty coastal steamer—stopping in the Art Nouveau city of Ålesund for a night. Back on the Hurtigruten, you'll sail to Trondheim by way of the Geirangerfjord and then return to Oslo by train for one last night on the town.

Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 11 Days

This 11-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who like to combine their mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From the airport, you'll head to Rincón de la Vieja and spend two days exploring the nature surrounding one of the country's most active volcanoes. Then travel deeper inland to spend a few days crossing suspension bridges, zip-lining over trees, and hiking through the jungles of La Fortuna and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You'll end your trip in Manuel Antonio National Park. More than just stunning white-sand beaches, Manuel Antonio is rich in biodiversity and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Sunset off the coast of Guanacaste over the Pacific Ocean
Coast to Coast: Beach and Cloud Forest Adventure - 9 Days

Experience both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica — and all that's in between — on this 9-day adventure. Starting in the bustling capital of San Jose, you'll make your way to Tortuguero National Park, where you'll watch sea turtles hatch on the beach. Then head inland to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for incredible wildlife and rainforest trails. After two nights in the heart of the jungle, you'll travel to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Papagayo. Here you'll go snorkeling and surfing, and end your journey with a spectacular sunset cruise around the bay.

Beach in Drakes Bay on the Osa Peninsula
Active Wildlife Adventure in Costa Rica - 9 days

This active 9-day itinerary is designed to appeal to nature lovers and adventure fiends of every stripe. It starts on the southern Pacific coast, in the remote, wild Corcovado National Park. Here you'll enjoy rugged hikes abounding with wildlife-spotting opportunities. Then it's off to the north where you'll explore the misty cloud forests of Monteverde and fly over the forest canopy on a zip-line tour.  After a visit to the famed Arenal Volcano, it's time for another hike, this time to the Hule Lagoon, an ancient crater lake like something out of Conan Doyle's "Lost World."

Pulpit Rock's jaw-dropping views.
Norway's Best Cities & Hikes - 9 Days

Get to know Norway's biggest cities and hike along the country's famous fjords on this 9-day itinerary. Beginning with an expert-curated tour of Oslo, you'll take an overnight train to coastal Stavanger—your gateway to day-hikes at legendary Pulpit Rock and Kjeragbolten. Finally, relax on a scenic ferry ride to Bergen, where you'll explore the city by foot and even take a cruise to Hardangerfjord—the "Queen of the Fjords."

Memorable views from Trolltunga.
Best Hikes in Norway - 8 Days

Experience western Norway's best natural landmarks on a series of moderate to challenging hikes. Begin with a local-led tour of Oslo before heading southwest to Stavanger, a coastal town and gateway to the famous Kjerag and Preikestolen treks—get ready for unbeatable views of the surrounding fjords. Then it's a scenic bus ride to Odda, your home base for the next and final adventure: hiking to the famous cliffs of Trolltunga.