TRAVEL INTERVIEW WITH BRET LOVE OF GREEN GLOBAL TRAVEL
I recently discovered Green Global Travel, a very popular and fairly new American travel blog that focuses on eco-travel and is growing like wild fire. I went over to take a look around at their great photos, videos, and eco-travel information. I quickly decided to ask Bret for an interview to find out more about him, his partner Mary, eco travels and their great website. Let’s jump in…
Q1. You launched Green Global Travel about 1 ½ years ago in late 2010 and it’s been growing phenomenally. Already, you have over 3700 FB fans and over 20,000 monthly visitors to your site. Really amazing!
Congratulations! What do you think are the main 3 ingredients to your rapid success and popularity?
Well, first and foremost, we work our butts off! Even when we’re traveling to tend to spend at least a few hours a day on the site, writing editorial, doing social media and managing interns.
Number 2 would be working with interns, which we’ve written about that pretty extensively. That program has been invaluable in helping us rapidly develop our social media strategies.
Lastly, I think the fact that we focus on ecotourism and responsible travel helps, because it’s a rapidly growing sector of the travel industry that very few bloggers focus on. We’re really passionate about it, and I think readers respond to that passion.
Q2. What are your backgrounds? (professions / main hobbies and interests)
We’ll start with Mary’s, since it’s easier to talk about: She was a Psych major, and for 10 years worked as the right-hand man to an entrepreneur doing personality assessments for corporate HR departments. She’s got great people skills, is incredibly well-organized, and has lots of experience helping run a vision-based business.
As for me, I started out as a music journalist, got my first Managing Editor gig in 1995, and have been a freelance writer ever since. On the side, I played in numerous bands and performed improv comedy for 8 years. It’s our mutual love of culture, travel, cuisine and general silliness that binds us together and makes us a perfect fit. We’re together 24/7/365!
Q3. You’ve been a professional freelance writer for for over 20 years. How did you get started, learn, and get your work published?
I started out doing music reviews for a tiny, crappy college newspaper, for free. I did not get one red cent for writing for nearly 3 years. Gradually I built the paper’s editorial department up and they offered me a job, first as Music Editor, then as Entertainment Editor, then as Managing Editor, then as a National Managing Editor overseeing a 15-city network.
That launched my entire career. Gradually, I got offers to work with big outlets like Rolling Stone and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but none of it would’ve ever happened if I hadn’t recognized the opportunity in writing for free.
Q3. You have a series of travel videos that, from the beginning, have gained a lot of acclaim. For example, those used by WWF, and the sea lion video nominated as one of the Best Travel Videos of 2011 by Indie Travel/Matador Network. Again, congratulations!
You mentioned that you did not have much video experience before starting GGT and that you shot your first videos with an inexpensive camera, including the video selected as Best 2011. So, obviously, you just have some natural video talent! Any insights on that natural talent? And since starting out, have you taken any video courses or training to improve even more?
No training whatsoever, other than a few photography courses I took back in 2000 before a big trip to South Africa. But I did watch a ton of movies and television growing up, and have been a film critic for 15 years. I think having an extensive knowledge of film helps, not to mention watching a lot of nature/wildlife shows such as Wild Kingdom, The Crocodile Hunter and the BBC’s Planet Earth.
Q4. What do you think are the most important ingredients to making great travel videos, in terms of skills, equipment, training?
Equipment and training can only do so much. At some point it all comes down to just two things: Having a great visual eye, and knowing how to tell a story. I see so many writers, photographers and videographers who have great technique, but don’t understand the ancient art of storytelling.
It’s not always about, “Look at how much fun I’m having!” It’s about using your camera, your voice, the music and the images to make the viewer FEEL something. Move their spirit and they will always come back for more.
Q5. How often and how long do you travel each year?
We have a mortgage, a dog, my 10-year-old daughter,who is with us ½ the time. That and paying the bills requires I continue to do freelance work while we’re building GGT. So the most we can usually be away is a week to 10 days per month. This year is the most we’ve ever traveled, with five big trips in the first six months. I anticipate that, as my daughter gets older, we will probably start traveling more, but we’re not really the RTW travel type. We like coming home and absorbing what we’ve seen before taking off on our next jaunt.
Q6. What are your 2-3 personal favorite places in the world? What’s the draw?
I’d say South Africa, Galapagos Islands and the Peruvian Amazon have been my favorites. The draw with all of them was the nature and wildlife, which are more protected than in other destinations and were therefore much more plentiful.
South Africa was the first huge adventure I went on, and laid the foundation for my love of ecotourism.
The Galapagos Islands were otherworldly and incredibly well managed from a conservation standpoint, with very few people and tons of animals that had no fear of humans.
And the Peruvian Amazon was a lifelong dream come true, with all the amazing wildlife sightings we expected, but also some incredible cultural exchanges we didn’t expect. Each of them changed me in a profound way.
Q7. Do you have a ‘soft spot’ for any particular animals? If so, which and why?
Well, Mary would probably tell you that I have a soft spot for all animals. I’m like a little kid around them, and have been moved to tears by them numerous times in our travels. But I do have a few favorites.
I love dolphins and manatees, because they’re so intelligent and interactive and I’ve had several close personal encounters with them in the wild. I’m a big fan of monkeys and apes, which I find endlessly fascinating due to our evolutionary connection with them.
But my #1 animal is easily the bear: I have four bear tattoos, believe that it is my “Spirit Animal,” and am always mesmerized when I see them in the wild, at the zoo, or on TV. We’re going to see polar bears in the Canadian Arctic later this year, and I can’t wait!
Q8. How about ‘soft spots’ for a particular habitat or plant species? Which and why?
I’m always happiest when I’m on, in or around water. Oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls… it’s all good. Mary and I are both water signs (She’s a Pisces, I’m a Cancer), and being near the water seems to have a transcendent quality that brings me a sense of serenity I don’t often have in my day to day life. I’m usually a pretty intense, driven, passionate guy, but the water gives me peace.
Q9. If you could only recommend 3 most important things to people to travel in an eco-friendly manner, what would they be?
I don’t think you can really sum it up in three things, because being a more responsible, ethical traveler isn’t about making big changes. We called our post on the subject Easy Ecotourism, because it’s more about all the simple little things you can do along the way.
Q10. What are your travel plans for the rest of this year and 2013?
We’ve got four more trips planned for this year– New York City, Jordan, polar bear-watching in Churchill, Canada and Bora Bora. But beyond that we just have a long wish list of places we’d like to visit, including Antarctica, Belize, Botswana, Kenya/Tanzania, Morocco, Namibia, Iceland, Scotland, Chile, Palau, Turkey and more. We’re always seeking out new and off-the-beaten-path ecotourism destinations.
Q11. What are your upcoming plans for Green Global Travel?
Right now we’re trying to step up our game and rise to another level. We look at sites like National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel Blog, Matador Network and Mother Nature Network as the role models for what we want GGT to be.
We’re going to be reaching out to more companies about partnerships and press trip opportunities, expanding our monthly newsletter and doing a big re-design that will give us more of the magazine-style look we’ve always wanted. We’ve only been focusing intently on GGT’s growth for about 8 months now, so we’re excited to see where we’ll be by November, which will be our 2-year anniversary. I’m no Nostradomus by any means, but I do foresee some amazing things on the horizon!
Thanks, Bret, for telling us all about yourself, Mary, your videos, eco travels, favorite places and animals plus upcoming plans for Green Global Travel. Sounds like exciting times ahead! Good luck and enjoy the journey. :) cheers, Lash
Follow Bret, Mary, and Green Global Travel:
Have you ever taken an eco tour or engaged in eco travel? If so, where and what did you do? Hows was it?
When you travel, are you careful about being environmentally friendly? If so, what do you do for low environmental impact?