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Meet Trailblazer Elaine Masters

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elaine Masters.

Elaine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a travel chameleon and writer, I jump into destinations and tours, solo jaunts, family, and couples adventures as often as I can. My parents primed the passion with cross-country road trips every summer, going north into Canada and deep into Mexico when you could still navigate the roads to Guadalajara and back easily.

Skills developed in my early days of managing an NPR station in Alaska to becoming a graphic designer, actor, author, and then yoga teacher in my fifties inform my work as a freelance writer and visual storyteller. They inform my blog, Tripwellgal.com, and led to producing videos for YouTube and other clients.

What fuels my wanderlust now is mindful travel – enjoying and then stepping outside of tourist bubbles to connect deeply with people and cultures. Sustainable and ethical travel are more important than ever. We have to respect the places, people and animals we love to visit. My goal is to use storytelling to help others go far, often and do it well.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It hasn’t always been smooth. Life is full of wonders now but there were long years of child rearing and navigating out of a challenging marriage. It took time to heal and rekindle my love for life, to find out who I had become. I’ve learned the hard way that you may try to control life but when you surrender to it, you’ll end up where you need to be.

My heart has always pointed me in the right direction. It hasn’t been a linear route, not the most secure way to go but so far so good and the future looks fine. I’ve always put experience and people ahead of accumulating things or playing it safe. That and loving my work keeps me going.

Work can be challenging too. When I developed a lung infection in India recently, I kept going through days full of revelations. Visiting a remote village in India’s Thar desert set the tone for the tour. In Setrawa and later in Jodhpur, we met with the village women of Sambhali Trust where they are learning life changing business and educational skills. On International Women’s Day, I joined the girls and women in pink as we marched through Jodhpur for women’s rights.

It was also a multi-generational trip and I need more of that. I loved being with Millennial women, several of whom went on to spend more time in the country. I do that when possible, like visiting the Galapagos Islands to cover a luxury cruise then spending time with my sweetheart in minimally boutique hotels and bouncing around the islands on our own.

If I had any advice it would be to work through your fears and learn when to let go, to let life happen. You become a partner in a greater adventure that way. Learning that came from my decades as a Transcendental Meditation Siddha and working intensively in the Nagual tradition of Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the Four Agreements . I continue to live according to those simple tenets.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’ve become a digital nomad circuitously. While I love being home in San Diego, my bag’s packed and my passport updated – the better to take off when an opportunity arises. I founded the blog, Tripwellgal nearly ten years ago as part of publishing Drivetime Yoga, with Ergonomist and Physical Therapist, Julie Garner. If only I’d taken blogging more seriously then!

I’m proud to highlight important issues within the travel industry as well as our food systems. Over the past ten years, with my partner Dave Rudie, an amazing photographer and owner of Catalina Offshore Products, I’ve become an avid scuba diver, learned about developments in the seafood industry along the west coast and gotten to know fishing families, chefs, truck drivers, NGO’s and scientists. I’ve swum with dozens of sharks and been heartbroken by the finning, the garbage in our seas and the bleaching of coral reefs. I’ve witnessed the devastation of the last El Nino on the sea urchin fishery and climate change on crabbers in northern California; been to San Felipe with Scripps Scientists and the World Wildlife Fund in an effort untangle the quagmire surrounding the decimation of Vaquita Dolphins. I’ve also seen positive signs as species like the delicious Opah, are being landed locally and Tuna have returned to territorial waters.

All that’s led to writing about food and travel for magazines including Edible San Diego, San Diego Home and Garden, National Park Magazine and International Wine and Food. While in Wyoming, I traced the Suffragette Trail and learned about the first state to grant women the right to vote. The trip led to articles in Hidden Compass as well as Roadtrippers Magazines. I’ve worked my way up from content writer for a host of travel sites, contribute to Travel Awaits, and I’m a member of the Impact Travel Media Alliance, IFWTWA and Travel Massive.

Video is a great storytelling tool and luckily I’m enough of a geek to lightly embrace the software. I’m growing a fledgling YouTube site and produced videos for Costco outlets and Edible online. The immediacy of filming with a cell phone is a great gift and the technology just keeps improving. People around the world rarely flinch when you hold up a phone. They freeze with a camera pointed in their direction. If there were more hours in the day, you’d find me editing videos then embedding them in my posts and social media.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
The summertime trips from California to see family in Northern Minnesota led to a love of the open road. My first backpacking adventure, a six-month sabbatical in the 1970s, took me through Europe and to Sri Lanka. Those months taught me how inexpensively and spontaneously you can see the world. I was fortunate to return to work as a more valuable employee and won a promotion almost immediately. Now as an intrepid, boomer traveler, I live in gratitude for the opportunities to share the stories.

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Image Credit:
Elaine Masters

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