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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

Green coffee beans ripening on the vine
Bogotá & Zona Cafetera - 6 Days

In barely a week you can enjoy Colombia's famous coffee two ways: at a streetside cafe in Bogotá, and right at the source in the Zona Cafetera (coffee country). Your trip starts in the capital of Bogotá. Discover this city's colorful neighborhoods and museums on a walking tour, and be sure to sample its famous restaurants and nightlife. You'll then fly into the heart of the Zona Cafetera and overnight at a working coffee farm. Next visit nearby Salento, a colonial/Antioquian town that wears its colorful exuberance on its sleeve. While here, hike the unspoiled green mountains of the Cocora Valley, which are dotted with towering wax palms.

Baby turtle on the beach in Tortuguero National Park
Explore Tortuguero from San José - 4 Days

Tortuguero National Park is most famous as a sanctuary to nesting sea turtles—you can witness the babies hatch on the beach during this 4-day excursion to the Caribbean coast. After spending a day exploring San José, you'll make your way east to the untouched beaches of Tortuguero. Delve deeper into the park and paddle a canoe around its arterial waterways, keeping an eye out for plenty of other wildlife along the way.

Trail to the Rio Celeste waterfall
Arenal Waterfall Expedition - 4 Days

This quick-hit excursion to Arenal Volcano National Park offers an outdoor adventure where Costa Rica's stunning waterfalls take center stage. The trip starts and ends in bustling San Jose, but the village of La Fortuna will be your base as you enjoy Arenal's many cascades. Keep an eye out for wildlife on a hike to the incredible Rio Celeste waterfall. Along the way, cool off with a swim at the base of the waterfalls, or indulge yourself with a dip in the healing waters of Tabacón before heading back to the capital.

Las Lajas Sanctuary in Ipiales, near Pasto
Journey Across Colombia's Cities: North to South - 15 Days

This diverse, action-packed itinerary covers a lot of Colombian ground in about two weeks. The trip starts on the northern Caribbean Coast with time to explore Tayrona's beautiful national park, sandwiched between the turquoise sea and rugged mountains. From here, you'll spend a few days in the stunning inner-walled city of Cartagena, and then take a flight to up-and-coming Medellín, with a thriving arts and culture scene. Then, you'll visit a coffee farm before heading to the vibrant capital of Bogotá. Continue the journey with a visit to the famous salt mines and then, end the trip in Cali, the salsa capital of the world.

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona
Summit to the Sea - 15 Days

Depending on personal preference, some folks like rugged activity on their vacation while others prefer relaxing on white-sand beaches fronting crystalline waters. Others opt for the museums and nightlife found in more cosmopolitan destinations. We wonder why not enjoy it all? That's just what this itinerary offers: city life, culture, the great outdoors and plenty of time to relax.

View of Cartagena's marina at sunset
Colombia's Caribbean Coast and Islands - 13 Days

A big draw of Colombia's Caribbean coast is its large amount of diversity in a relatively small space. Over just a few hundred miles you're in close proximity to Spanish-colonial architecture, the towering mountains of the Sierra Nevadas, white-sand beaches, running rivers, arid deserts, and biodiverse marshland. It's the ultimate tropical adventure.