Meet Sooz

  • BA Journalism & Public Communication; MSc Biodiversity and Wildlife
  • Adventurous and altruistic introvert (INFP)
  • Chaotic good
  • Super sassy and likely rolling her eyes at you right this very minute
  • Stops for snails and to help my fellow human beings
  • Red wine, whiskey, tea, and coffee 
  • Loves cold weather, rain, snow, and cold showers
  • Stays up all night reading trashy fantasy and tasteful sci-fi
  • Video game completionist, even if it takes 200+ hours
  • <3 Trance and deep house. Advocate for zero-waste raving
  • A self-proclaimed dystopian novelist that will definitely finish the book, so stop asking
  • Dress code: Flannel, messy bun, wool socks, a dress, and fishing boots
  • Lover of all things outdoors, including SUPing, birding, hiking, camping, snowboarding, and swimming

Chapter 1 – Alaska

I was born and raised on Denai’ina Athabascan land in Chugiak / Eagle River, Alaska, where I lived for 26 years.

My childhood is 100% stereotypical of what you’d imagine growing up in small-town Alaska. You know, like walking to school through the woods and cautiously avoiding the family of moose blocking my path. Or, having my dad hook up a sled to his actual body (yes, like a sled dog) and cross-country skiing to the supermarket with my sister and me in tow because our car was buried in snow. When my mom said to be home before dark, the long summer nights gave us a free pass to stay out all night. We spent our time as a family outdoors, camping, fishing, hiking, and driving to the lower 48 to visit national parks. 

I was raised with an inherent sense of practical sustainability during my childhood before I knew what that was. I mean, it doesn’t get more sustainable than eating roadkill moose every day for an entire winter – these practices were just part of daily life.

Chapter 2 – Leaving Home and Losing Myself

I worked as an Alaska tour guide for some time during university. Then, after completing a BA in Journalism and Public Communication from the University of Alaska, my three best girlfriends and I packed our bags and headed to Europe for a backpacking trip, the summer of 2010. 

Everyone has a story about how their first trip changed them, but let me tell you, coming from a small town in Alaska and seeing different approaches to life from cultures around the world was, for lack of a better word, eye-opening. During that trip, I started a WordPress blog where I word-vomited all my mishaps and adventures. It would be the first of many blogs I created for my travels, including one for solo backpacking in Brazil, backpacking in SE Asia, and many more.

When I returned from Europe, I knew I was too big for my hometown, but I never found the courage to leave. I spent some time as a tour guide, bussing cruise tourists around my home state. Then, during the 2008 economic downturn, I struggled to find long-term work in Alaska, losing friends to drugs and violence, and I knew I needed to start somewhere fresh. 

So, I packed everything I could into my Subaru and drove to Las Vegas to move in with one of my best friends and to work at a magazine. Thus began a very brief era of what I considered total freedom. I lost many sustainable practices at home and became lost in selfish indulgence. Looking back, I needed those two years to understand what kind of adult I wanted to become, but my days were full of plastic and mass consumerism. I had to get a second job in corporate management to get health insurance, and I was working 50+ hours a week and still squeezing in time for a robust social life. I was skating on thin ice.

I launched my official public travel blog, but it was a hot mess. I never had time to invest in it. I had no idea what I was doing. I lost interest in blogging many times.

Road biking near Las Vegas outdoor

Chapter 3 – Moving Abroad and Finding Myself

Moving to Germany with Ganesh (that story is below) allowed me to take a step back and reflect on my wasteful lifestyle. I am forever grateful to Germany for showing and allowing me to develop into the adult I always knew I wanted to be – a responsible and caring adult. One who truly reduced, reused, recycled, and cared for people and the planet. I began thinking critically about my travels and role in the destructive travel industry. Many people talk about how hard moving abroad is, and yes, it is hard, but for me, life in Germany made perfect sense. I became someone I am proud of and comfortable in my skin for the first time since I was a kid.

I took the time to invest in myself and my blog. But, I realized my blog didn’t embody the type of traveler I wanted to be. I was trying to be like every other travel blogger, which made me fall out of love with travel. So, I changed how I blogged and traveled to align with my values. I fell in love with traveling and writing again. I recently rebranded to a fully sustainable travel blog, but it wasn’t enough.

Chapter 4 – Going Back to School for Environmental Science

I returned to school ten years after my BA for an MSc in Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Ecosystem Health from the University of Edinburgh. Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be an environmental scientist – and I woke up one day and decided you are never too old to follow your dreams! I just finished my thesis in 2022. My topic was utilizing the principles of nature-based solutions to help degrow tourism and refocus it on sustained growth that equitably benefits biodiversity and the local community. I now travel with careful intent and purpose and find much more joy in my experiences.

Chapter 4 – Moving Abroad (Again)

After six years of loving life in Germany, Ganesh and I knew it was time to be closer to family. So, we made a move to Vancouver, Canada. I am graduating from UoE this winter. Initially, I thought I would ditch the travel blog and go on to do ecology fieldwork (that may still be in my future). For now, I plan to combine my journalism and environmental science degrees and use my education and communication skills to change the travel industry – starting with you – a travel enthusiast who is ready and willing to do better for yourself, the planet, and the destinations you visit.

a waterfall with a lush green forest

Meet Ganesh

  • Chatty extravert that makes all the friends
  • Lawful good
  • Coffee snob – flat whites are his drink of choice
  • Reads trashy sci-fi space operas
  • Hobbyist DJ who plays deep house and groovy beats
  • Builds multi-page spreadsheets to plan our travels
  • Enjoys running and tennis
  • A maker and tinkerer obsessed with tech
  • Researches things for months and only sometimes buys them
  • PC Gaming
  • Dress code: shorts, T, thongs (of the Australian variety)
  • A feminist
  • Does most of the cooking
Brown skin man with glasses eating an ice cream cone

Ganesh has no part in operating or making this blog, and this is most definitely not a couples blog. :-P So, why introduce him? Well, he is my favorite travel buddy, and you will often see him in photos, and when I say “we” I mean him and me. He has always been my cheerleader and moral support for working on this blog in my spare time. So, I thought it would be nice to include him, so my readers can know more about my travel partner.

Third Culture Kid

Ganesh was born in Singapore to Indian parents. He enjoyed the multiculturalism of Singapore but has said he could never move back as an ex-pat knowing all too well how the locals live in their benevolent dictatorship. Before his 12th birthday, his family immigrated to Australia – after his parents secured jobs and citizenship.

Ganesh fully integrated into the Australian lifestyle and culture. He still has a laid-back attitude and wears his thongs everywhere, much to the horror of the Germans. He spent his teen years in Lismore/Ballina, where his dad worked as a professor. The whole family now lives in Sydney, where Ganesh attended university, obtaining an MSc in biomedical engineering.

Singapore supertrees

Startups Abroad

After spending some time working with actual human bones and developing medical equipment, he says he got impatient, never seeing the finished product of his designs. So, he and some of his best mates founded a startup and moved to SE Asia before that was even a thing. They lived in hostels, worked in cafes, and they learned, but sadly their startup failed.

But, during a scuba diving trip in Thailand, Ganesh met a product manager and began the long arborous process of applying for a large tech company. Six months later, he was working at Google Sydney. His job brought him to the states a few times – where he met yours truly.

After going through a period of change in his life, he decided to leave Sydney and move to London to work on a short-term project with Google’s charitable side and create technology to aid doctors responding to the Ebola crisis in Africa. Eventually, he moved to Google Munich. Ganesh is passionate about diversifying tech and spends his time mentoring people, building diverse teams, and looking for opportunities to foster tech development outside Silicon Valley.

Ganesh has reconnected with his heritage recently and embraced the parts of Indian culture he can appreciate, most notably Indian cooking. Over time I’ve successfully transformed him into a cold climate lover and even hooked him on snowboarding – he’s annoyingly good at it :-P

UNESCO World heritage Sydney Opera House

Cat exposing its belly

Meet Chombie Wombie

  • Pillow and blanket diva
  • A gentle giant
  • Once fell asleep chasing a bug
  • Loves kibble more than wet food
  • Rescued from a box of abandoned kittens in Australia
  • Has a pet passport, lived in 3 countries
  • The real reason the humans come home from holiday
  • Real name: Comrade – pet name Chombie Wombie

How did our family come together?

One fateful night at an Eric Prydz show that I was covering for my magazine, I ran into a man who said he hated all the fake people in Vegas and thought I looked like I was the only person having genuine fun. He was probably not wrong. After hanging out with him for the weekend, we parted ways, and I promised to show him the “fun side of Vegas” (the national parks nearby) should he ever return. He returned to Australia, and I went on with life. 

Three months after meeting my charming Australian, I got a phone call saying he was back in the states and asked me to take him to a national park.

So, I drove him out to Zion. I’m pretty sure he was checking in with his friends every step of the way because who gets in a car with a wild Alaskan and heads off into the desert? – And let’s be honest, if either of us were going to be an axe murderer, it would be me; I am the only one that knows how to wield an axe, after all.

We arrived at the park way too late and foolishly started a hike in the late afternoon. Well, the sun set and the buses stopped running. So, we had to walk 8km out of the park. But, as we walked, the milky way just exploded, cutting across the night sky and Zion canyon. It was there we realized that even though we were born on opposite ends of the world to two completely different cultures, we had so much in common – our values, sense of adventure, desire to see the world, music, and books. 

A man and woman elope in the desert

We began a long-distance relationship, and eventually, instead of me moving to Australia or him moving to the states – we met halfway and moved to Germany.

Life in Germany taught us many things: communication, respecting each other’s space, mourning for life left back home, overcoming obstacles as a team, and enjoying the journey. 

We both communicated our desire to do better for ourselves, the planet, and the places we visited. On every trip we took, we incorporated more sustainable and responsible practices. Every day at home, we find ways to reduce our impact on our beautiful planet. – And we still do that to this day. We are constantly pushing each other to be better, the people we meet, our world, and all biodiversity. 

Considering how hard it was to get married in Germany, we decided to elope in the Red Rock desert near Las Vegas. For $300, we were married by a giant cactus in the desert by a man wearing a stained Hawai’ian print T-shirt driving a purple van. We didn’t want to exclude our parent’s from the celebrations, though, so we spent the next two years planning mini-wedding celebrations in Alaska and Australia. 

Shankar Alaskan wedding

After seven years in Germany, including two pandemic years, we decided that Germany was far away from both homes, as wonderful as it was. So, we decided to pick up and move to Canada to be closer to Alaska and only a direct flight away from Sydney. 

Curiosity Saves Travel Round Logo

Let’s Get Curious!

“Thanks for being curious enough to take your first steps toward sustainable travel. We’re happy to have you along for the slow journey ahead.”

Susanna, Ganesh, and Comrade