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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

Costa Rica Self-Drive Adventure - 8 Days

This itinerary is perfect for those who want a vacation filled with tropical beauty and adventure. Take a self-drive tour of Costa Rica that begins in the cloud forests of Monteverde, where you can hike over suspension bridges and zip-line over the forest canopy. Then it's off to Arenal Volcano National Park—your days here will be spent trekking around the base of the volcano, soaking in natural hot springs, and embarking on waterfall hikes.

Costa Rica Volcanoes & Pacific Coast Adventure - 12 Days

Combine a beach holiday and jungle adventure in one self-drive vacation. Arrive in Liberia and head to Tenorio National Park, where you'll hike along the electric blue waters of the Río Celeste. Next up is Arenal Volcano National Park, a hotbed of adventure activities. After a waterfall trek and whitewater rafting excursion, drive to Monteverde for a zip-line tour of the cloud forest canopy and a guided wildlife night hike. Finally, it's off to the beaches of Sámara and Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula for surfing and relaxation.

Manuel Antonio beaches are known for sunset views
Costa Rica Hiking Adventure - 10 Days

Checking off three key regions in Costa Rica, this 10-day itinerary is perfect for adventurous travelers. The trip starts with a visit to Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano for hiking and natural hot springs before continuing to the Pacific Ocean for some beach time at Manuel Antonio National Park. Finish off in one of the country's most remote areas—Osa Peninsula—for undeveloped rainforests, rare wildlife, and near-empty coastline.

A clear day overlooking Tromsø's marina
Tromsø Winter Adventure - 6 Days

This exciting and less-traveled itinerary takes you into Norway's boreal territory for spectacular snowcapped scenery in the Arctic region. Base yourself in the quietly sophisticated city of Tromsø (Northern Norway's largest), where you can sled with huskies and reindeer during the day and chase the Northern Lights after dark. At the end of the adventure, you'll spend a memorable night in a traditional 'lavvu' tent and learn about the Sami indigenous culture before returning to 'Paris of the North' for one more night on the town.

A dogsledding team in Northern Norway
Multi-Day Dogsledding Adventure from Tromsø - 7 Days

This arctic itinerary starts in the city of Tromsø before five days of adventure in Northern Norway, Finland, and Sweden. With the help of your private guide, get to know your team of huskies by name, drive your own sled, and enjoy traditional meals around the campfire. Fall asleep each night in traditional Sami tents—or stay up to look for the Northern Lights.

Picturesque villages in the Lofoten Islands
Ultimate Winter Adventure in Norway's Arctic - 12 Days

This epic trip through Norway's wintry north is all about the travel modes and activities unique to the Arctic. Begin in Oslo and take a train to the UNESCO-listed village of Røros. Dogsled in the mountains, stroll through Trondheim, and stay overnight in an indigenous Sami tent near Tromsø. Cap it off with a coastal steamer ride to the Lofoten Islands, where you'll snorkel with whales and see the Northern Lights by horseback.