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Tonya Kay

Tonya Kay photo courtesy Tonya KayTonya Kay is an actress, TV personality, professional dancer and danger artist living in Los Angeles. A vegetarian of 28 years, vegan for 18 of those and raw vegan for the last 11, Tonya Kay pioneers the green health movement with appearances, publications and green media (available at KayosMarket). Watch Tonya Kay's self-produced web series The Eco Tourist on EcoHearth's Eco Tube. You may have also seen her recently on TV's My Ride Rules, The Tonight Show, Criminal Minds, Glee, House MD, Secret Girlfriend and American Idol with Rhianna. She has performed live in STOMP, De La Guarda, with Panic At The Disco, Kenny Rogers and in countless music videos and commercials. Look for Tonya Kay in the new Muppets Movie, starring in MTV Network's Video Game Reunion, playing a lead in the scripted animal-activist feature film, Bold Native, performing the voice of Green Girl in the raw vegan superhero animated film Rawman and Green Girl and performing burlesque live in Hollywood, California, almost any weekend. In 2012, Tonya Kay will star in the films Off World and Within The Darkness. For more on Tonya Kay, visit her website.

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Six Ways to Drop Tourism and REALLY Travel, Part 1: Ditch the Resort Packages and Lodge Locally
Sunday, 12 January 2014 00:00  |  Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry

Colorful Luggage photo by Nicole HanusekI've understood from a very young age that I'm meant to leave footprints all over this planet before I die. I love to travel because it keeps me moving, enriches my life and nurtures empathy for the vast number of perspectives and realities that exist in this world, reminding me that mine is not the only one to be preached, missioned or warred into dominance. These are insights, incidentally, that I treasure.

Yes, I want to leave footprints all over this blessed Earth, but let them be light footprints. As an avid traveler to many a third-world country, I've seen the social, environmental and cultural atrocities that tourism can bring to lands that had already-established and viable governments, religions and family structures before we arrived. I know, too, that tourists personally miss out on all the best experiences by insisting that their way of life travels with them. I mean, why would I vacation in Thailand's rich culture if I was going to isolate myself from it in a resort, eating steaks and drinking imported wine for the duration? It's a heck of a lot cheaper to fly to Vegas for that experience. And a heck of a lot less destructive.

I am an Earth-loving, diversity-supporting, wildlife-protecting woman in my metropolitan Hollywood neighborhood and that is not going to change just because I am in another part of the world. In fact, I am currently in Kaua'i and even here I recognize that the people like you and me who give a damn are still a minority among locals and vacationers alike. So I have to be just as much or more of a renegade when I am traveling—even in Kaua'i—to uphold my eco-conscious integrity.

Those of us who really, really care—who are willing to go all the way to see the world we wish to live in thrive—are a minority. A massively influential minority, to be sure, but a minority nonetheless. No matter where I am, I will respect my world and the community I am a part of. And when I’ve done that, not only do I get to return home feeling like my integrity is intact and my Earth has been honored, but also knowing the culture I have experienced blossomed for me and shared its rich secrets, defining me no longer as a frowned-upon tourist, but elevating me to the noble role of traveler.

Over the next few blog entries, I will share with you six wonderful ways to drop tourism and really travel. Here is the first:

Tip One: Ditch the Resort Packages and Lodge Locally.

Hostels are locally owned and operated—and a prime place for meeting other captivating international travelers for a fraction of the cost of staying at a hotel. In Ireland, I lodged in a hostel with my own large private bedroom for $8/person/night (compared to the average $100/night at a hotel at the time). Hostels often have a community kitchen where you can choose to prepare your own healthy foods for less, too.

Another way to lodge locally is to stay or work at a World Wide Opportunity on Organic Farms (WWOOF) farm. These are networked internationally through the website and if you are willing to put in a few hours a day on the farm, you can often stay and eat for free as long as you like. In Japan, I stayed at the Kawaguchiko WWOOF farm called Earth Embassy and Solar Cafe and was delighted to discover an authentic onsen (natural hot spring) within walking distance, Mt. Fuji a short bus ride away for the hike of my life, ice caves and the famous "Suicide Woods" directly across the road, and a real small community cultural festival in the quaint neighboring town with fireworks, teenagers dressed in traditional kimonos and not another white person around. These are the kinds of experiences that resorts just don't provide.

If you are into tenting, public campsites are another great way to immerse yourself in a series of genuine, local adventures. Or if your family does not want to rough it quite as much as the aforementioned possibilities, you can stay at a bed and breakfast, eco-retreat or really any establishment, so long as you make sure it is owned by a local.

Next week I’ll share two more ways to help you drop tourism and really travel.

See Part 2: Avoid Rental Cars and Supermarkets
See Part 3: Seek Out the Cultural and Natural
See Part 4: Give Something Back

[Sign up to be notified each time Tonya publishes a new Clean and Green Everyday blog entry on EcoHearth. See a complete list of writing by Tonya Kay on EcoHearth.com or visit her Clean and Green Everyday blog. – Ed.]

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Comments (10)add
Written by Tonya Kay , April 04, 2012
Yes, Coyote, stealth camping is indeed a very rooted travel tactic!
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Written by Coyote Dave , April 03, 2012
Stealth camping. I think as long as you have the courtesy to stay away from posted or developed land, there's a whole world in between commercial camp sites. Walk just out of site of the trail, lay out a bivy sack or string a hammock, and by sunrise you're back on trail and there's no trace left where you took your Zs.
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Written by Steve the Kaleidoscope Guy , April 03, 2012
Your footprints Tonya still leave their impressive impression...authentically walking the talk you do..

“Don't tell me the sky is the limit, there are footprints on the moon!”
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Written by Tonya Kay , August 03, 2010
Rawbin, how cool is that! And how beautiful to spend your vacation tenting surely in THE most lovely spots in the U.S. Hotels can't provide what parks can. Have fun at Raw Spirit!
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Written by Rawbin , August 02, 2010
we'll be travelling, looking, seeing, enjoying, from a convertible by day and a tent by night from D.C. to Montana, to Raw Spirit Festival and back. I'm looking forward to reading more from you.
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Written by Steve the Kaleidoscope Guy , July 18, 2010
He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.
Abraham Maslow
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Written by Tonya Kay , July 13, 2010
Hahaha! I have surfed the couch surfing site before, too! But mostly, when I couch surf, which I have spent years doing mind you, I stay with friends. It's a great resource, that site, though!

Thanks for saying you are reading and that you enjoy the words. I like to know someone is out there and this is not a one way street.

Steve, your quotes always make me smile! You hit the head of the nail dead on!
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Written by Pilgrim , July 13, 2010
Thanks, Tonya and Steve for writing beautiful words! This is the way to travel! One more to check out is Couch Surfing http://www.couchsurfing.org/
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Written by DerekJ , July 13, 2010
I love this blog. Always great and inspiring information. Thanks, Tonya. I also love the related quotes that Steve the Kaleidoscope Guy tends to post. Thanks, Steve.
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Written by Steve the Kaleidoscope Guy , July 13, 2010
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
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