Talking Wanderlust with National Geographic Traveler of the Year Alison Wright

Named a National Geographic Traveler of the Year, Alison Wright photographs endangered cultures and people around the globe while covering issues concerning the human condition. She is a National Geographic contributor and has produced ten books, including three for the National Geographic Traveler guidebook series. Alison looks forward to sharing her photographic and storytelling expertise with travelers on the September 12, 2019 departure of our Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland expedition.

Why is it important to travel?

Travel educates and bridges the gaps of understanding between different cultures and humanity. It throws us out of our comfort zones, and helps us understand what we are most capable of within ourselves.

Is there anything you can't travel without?

I would never travel without my camera and my journal, as documenting my interpretations along the way are always part of the experience for me. I never understand when people tell me I should try traveling without a camera sometime.

Do you have a favorite travel memory?

My mom was a flight attendant for Pan Am, so I developed my wanderlust in utero. I have wonderful childhood memories of sitting on the pilots’ laps in the cockpit and watching the fluffy clouds below. That ingrained the love of travel in me, and to this day I love being in motion and discovering the next place. I savor the relationships I have with the many places that I return to, but every time I discover someplace new I think, “How can this possibly have existed in the world all this time without me having seen it before!?”

What do you think travelers will be surprised by on the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland expedition?

Travelers are always quite moved by the portrayal of the Viking landing at L’Anse aux Meadows. The site creates an excellent reconstruction that captures the essence of that time, and it is fun to photograph the interpreters dressed as people from that era.

Can you describe an experience or a story that characterizes the people in this region?

I was personally very moved by the story of the 38 planes that had to make emergency landings in Newfoundland during the 9/11 crisis, and by the generous spirit of the local people who took in those who were stranded. It was a delight to meet some of the people from that area, and find that they really are as kind as they are portrayed. I tell everyone they need to read the book and see the Broadway play, Come from Away, that encapsulates their story and the true generosity of Newfies.

How would you encourage travelers to approach photography during this trip?

My last two photography books, Face to Face, Portraits of the Human Spirit and Human Tribe, are a montage of global portraits that celebrate our visual human tapestry. I love interacting with the local people wherever I am. When you approach someone to photograph them, let them know why you want to take their photo—engaging is half the fun! Are you attracted to the way they look, to their clothing, to their child? It makes people much more amenable to being photographed if you let them know why. After all, doesn’t everyone want to feel special?

Join Alison on National Geographic's voyage to the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland this fall.