The Earthtones Traveler's Manifesto

How we travel, and why it is important. A guide to learning from the world

Earthtones is a community of kindred spirits, connected and defined by a passionate love for wilderness and a deep appreciation for ways of being that are intimately connected to the natural world.

We recognize that our Western perspective – defined by progress, innovation, all-consuming ambition, and material accomplishment – has lost much of this intimate connection to Nature, leaving many of us feeling isolated, disconnected, and lacking a sense of deeper meaning, purpose, or spiritual fulfillment.

We have become isolated from each other, as the disconnection from natural setting and intense interpersonal competition that defines our way of life has caused our communities to crumble – such that simply borrowing sugar from a neighbor has become a nostalgic relic of the past.

The dominating, industrial worldview of the West has spread so quickly and efficiently that most of us have completely forgotten that there are other ways of being available to us as humans – ways of being that are intimately connected to nature, sustainable, community-oriented, spiritually fulfilling, and imbued with meaning and purpose. Ways of living that are tied to place and family, and engrained with ancient wisdom and tradition.

Concrete has been laid so thoroughly that many of us have forgotten what it is like to be in pristine wilderness. We no longer have access to that feeling of vulnerability, humility, and a deep sense of interconnection to something greater.

Earthtones Travel takes us to the remaining places that can remind us of that lost and profound feeling of wandering through a silent, virgin forrest or a remote and distant fjord. This type of travel immerses us in the lives of the communities that remain deeply rooted in ancient wisdom, community, nature-based livelihoods, and traditions dating back long before this ubiquitous, industrial cosmology ever existed.

These places and these people offer us opportunities to learn – to learn about ourselves, about other ways of viewing the existence, and about what it truly means to be a human in this mysterious and beautiful world. These opportunities challenge us to question our most deeply engrained assumptions and perspectives.

These are opportunities for profound growth and evolution – if we are open enough to understand that our way is not the only way or the absolutely correct way... if we are open enough to allow ourselves to listen to those who have learned over millennia how to live in harmony with their environment and with each other...

But Earthtones Travel is not only about the physical destination -- it is how we travel. It is a philosophy that guides us as we roam about this planet, and that catalyzes meaningful human connection and personal growth. It is a philosophy that transforms fun vacations and ordinary daily experience into profound and transformative learning experiences.

Our Travel Philosophy

Be Respectful

When we travel, we have a choice to make in how we engage with the natural and cultural environment -- we have the choice of whether to be respectful or not.

At it's simplest and most fundamental level, we must leave the physical place better than we found it, being mindful of our waste and impact. This is especially true when we visit the pristine wilderness that defines many Earthtones experiences.

But on an equally important cultural level, we must understand that we are traveling to someone else's home and culture. It is not the host community's responsibility to adapt to our desires and expectations -- it is our responsibility to adapt and be respectful of their way of life.

Be Open

Be totally open to your experience. Drop all concepts, judgements and expectations. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and real. Open yourself to everyone and everything, understanding that every interaction is an opportunity to learn. Allow yourself to connect to others... to laugh, to cry, to sing, to dance, and to love. Accept the experience for what it is.

Open yourself up to new ideas and new perspectives. Open yourself up enough to allow your opinion to change.

Travel gives you the rare opportunity to be whoever you want to be, free from the expectations of the place you call home. Open yourself up enough to be whoever you want to be – to be that deepest and truest expression of yourself. Release your ideas and concepts about who you are in order to see who you could be.

Be Humble

Don't take yourself too seriously. Understand that your perspective – your culture, conditioning, and cosmology – is just one of many... one of an infinite number of possibilities. Accept and embrace the fact that the way you see the world has many glaring faults and blindspots, and that there is something profound and important to learn from the wisdom of the people and the places you encounter on an Earthtones journey.

These people are protectors of deeply important, ancient wisdom and these places are strongholds of true wilderness. Treat and revere them as your teachers and suspend your judgements.

Be aware of your shortcomings and imperfections, and be eager to learn

Be Mindful

Be fully present. Use all your senses to fully take in the experience. Listen deeply to the words, songs, and stories of the person on the other side of the table. Gaze deeply into their eyes as you connect, noticing the reflection of the campfire glistening back at you.

Listen deeply to the sounds of the trees when there is no wind, and to the smell of life as you saunter through a living, breathing forest... pulsating with presence.

Leave your life as you know it at home and embrace this rare opportunity to fully assume another existence. Take it in for what it really is, rather than what you think it to be. Through this presence comes true understanding.

Be mindful of how you carry yourself. And be mindful of the lives and experiences of the people you encounter. Be mindful of the dynamics of Westernization, colonization, and modernization and be acutely mindful of all your choices given these circumstances and his context. Be mindful of what you offer and how you treat others. Travel and engage consciously.

Invest Locally

When you travel, it is absolutely crucial that you invest in local livelihoods and embrace local ways of life. Buy from local shops and individuals. Eat local food. Stay with locals or in locally-run establishments. Ask the locals for the inside scoop. Engage meaningfully with the local community.

Only this way can we be sure that our travel benefits those who feel most deeply the impact of the travel. Earthtones only partners with those hosts that are locally-run or show a deep commitment to reinvestment in local ways of life. But it is your responsibility as a traveler to emphasize this attention to local livelihoods throughout every part of the experience.

To travel with Earthtones is to understand deeply that these places and these cultural environments are in a fragile and delicate state in the face of globalization and modernization -- but that they have essential wisdom to share lessons to teach us about how to be human in a way that is more meaningful, sustainable, and connected. To travel with Earthtones is to understand viscerally this context, and to act wisely and intentionally given these circumstances such that we can learn from our experiences and leave a positive impact on the places we are incredibly fortunate to visit.

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