From the earliest age, travel had a major influence on my life. Born in occupied Paris in the waning months of World War II to a multinational family separated by the conflict, I took my first cross-border voyage just short of my fourth birthday when I finally got to meet my Italian paternal family. The trip took 48 chaotic hours in jam-packed trains, with multiple connections and the occasional unscheduled stop in the middle of nowhere. But at the end of the journey there was an effusive tribe of doting adults and a month of endless adventures at a farmhouse on a Tuscan hillside. Right then, my four-year old brain got encrypted with the understanding that the fun of traveling far outweighed the occasional inconvenience.
As soon as my middle school curriculum allowed, I began learning foreign languages and promptly involved myself in foreign student exchange programs. Throughout my youth I enjoyed reciprocal holiday stays with local families in several European countries and developed an insatiable curiosity for cultural diversity. And along with it the urge to capture my experiences kindled a passion for photography.
Freshly out of school I took a bold leap to the United States. I made my home in Boston and pursued a career in international marketing. This again meant travel, lots of it. This open door to far-flung places sharpened my awareness of local life and issues beyond the scope of conventional business travel.
Some years ago, with my career goals achieved, I began to focus on the many remote places I still hoped to explore some day. Fate intervened when I met the owners of one of the early websites specializing in luxury travel. Before long I was a regular contributor to several travel sites.
By now, I have visited over 50 countries and counting, on every continent except Antarctica. Many of my destinations are in remote areas rich in cultural traditions. All too often these are also places where indigenous populations are eking a precarious living from a fragile environment. The experience has increased my concern for the social and environmental impact of tourism. My travel reporting focuses mainly on sustainable tourism and its value as a tool for economic development based on the conservation of local ecosystems.
Josette King is a member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).