I don’t normally write about travel for work, but I recently pitched and then wrote a piece about traveling to Cuba. The piece came about because while Cuba is becoming easier to visit, there’s a running debate in the U.S. over the ethics of actually going there (given the current regime, etc.).

To better understand the issue, I wanted to reach out to someone who is thinking deeply about political travel. That person was Rick Steves. Though Steves is famous for his friendly PBS persona, his travel books are underscored by a particular world view that, I think, is uniquely non-consumerist and culturally (verses politically) liberal. (Travel companies like Lonely Planet strive for something similar, but in my experience fall short.)

Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Steves:

If you want easy you go to Orlando. If you want to travel in a sense that gets you out of your comfort zone and gets you connected to the realities of this planet you go to a place that’s what some people think is sort of complicated. I don’t think it’s any more expensive or I don’t think it’s risky to go to Nicaragua instead of Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlán. You have a choice.

You can lay on the beach with a bunch of Americans in a resort that is gated and protected from reality. And there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but if you want to better understand our world that’s not a good way to do it.

You can read the entire piece here.

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Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Editor in Chief of Tripping Over the World. Also, reporter at BuzzFeed News.

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