Best Adventures 2014 Advisors

Our advisors pick Travel's Best Adventures 2014.
Our advisors for Travel's Best Adventures have circled the globe and have engaged in some of the most amazing adventures on Earth. Collectively, they have paraglided off Pedra Bonita in Rio de Janeiro, visited Yemen for a wildlife expedition to commune with nature and camped out on the Rio Grande River Gorge.

Meet our eclectic mix off travel experts -- including family travel expert, Tawanna Browne Smith; travel personality and master scuba diver Shane Reynolds and travel journalist and cyclist Ryan Van Duzer -- who came up with our list of amazing adventures you’ll want to add to your bucket list.
Justin Wood
Justin currently leads REI Adventures program development and operations team. As a former guide, outdoor educator and long-time program coordinator, Justin's extensive work in outdoor adventure spans the last 13 years. Managing programs in nearly 20 countries worldwide, he considers the most rewarding aspect of his job to be the awe expressed when REI members talk about their travels. He believes that every story he hears about a person fulfilling a lifelong dream is truly inspiring.

Justin's personal love of the arts and passion for all things outdoors compels him to seek out unique combinations of cultural and recreational experiences in his travels. His favorite piece of gear must be his helmet since it seems, to his loved ones' delight and dismay, he's wearing it in almost every picture of himself ever taken.
Tawanna Browne Smith
Tawanna Browne Smith got hooked on travel after completing international exchange programs in Italy and Holland while studying at Stanford University. Life has changed since then, and the addition of children sparked her company, Mom's Guide To Travel, where she provides content marketing for travel-related brands, as well as strategies and resources for family travelers.

Tawanna’s travel expertise has been featured in the NileGuide, Cruise Voyant,, and she has worked as a travel expert at large for 10 Best USA TODAY and a family travel contributor to

When she’s not traveling for business, Tawanna appreciates the adventure in family travel and draws on her personal experiences to provide insights for other traveling families.
Shane Reynolds
Shane Reynolds (aka Shane O) is a traveling one-man-band. As the owner of the mobile TV production company Color Earth, Shane O has spent the past decade working as a travel show host, writer, producer, director and editor. Traveling to more than 50 countries across the globe, he often wears all production hats, as he did for the Travel Channel series Not Your Average Travel Guide and the Nat Geo Wild series Shane Untamed.

More recently, Shane O has produced's web series, Top 10 Local's List, My Hometown and the upcoming series The Perfect Shot. As a lifelong surfer, master scuba diver, fisherman, paddler and wakeboarder, Shane is drawn to adventures that always seem to start on or underwater.
Allison Otto
As an award-winning documentary filmmaker and photographer, Allison Otto loves spending her life on the open road and seeking out compelling places and intriguing stories. Allison has clocked more than 450 road trips throughout the US and along its back roads. She has also spent 2 years living in a fully restored, 26-ft., 1958 Airstream. Her 3 Chihuahua rescue dogs are her favorite road trip companions and often accompany her on her adventures.

Allison has directed, filmed and edited for clients such as Travel Channel (Road Side Attractions), Lonely Planet, Outside Television and Outside magazine. In 2013, Allison debuted her first documentary short, “Keeper of the Mountains,” which screened at more than 25 film festivals internationally and won 11 awards.

Prior to picking up a camera, Allison worked as a sportswriter, covering everything from Major League Baseball to the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley. She graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in sociology.
Ryan Van Duzer
Travel journalist Ryan Van Duzer hosts Travel Channel’s exclusive web series, Bike Tour of California Wineries, which chronicles his journeys visiting wineries and tasting the local cuisine in Sonoma and Napa Valley’s wine region.

You may have seen Ryan on Travel Channel before. In fact, he got his first on-air gig with the network, filming a segment for America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions. Ryan has worked as a producer on additional ventures and has appeared on Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Current TV, Men’s Journal’s Remote & Refined video series and other media outlets.

Ryan’s love for travel started when he joined the Peace Corps and moved to Honduras. At the end of his 2 years of service, he decided to bike 4,000 miles from Honduras to his hometown of Boulder, CO. Ryan also saw the world from the seat of a bike on other adventurous journeys, including a trip from Maine to Key West, FL, and from Vancouver to Cabo.
Jessica Pociask
Jessica Pociask is a wildlife expert, travel writer and owner of WANT Expeditions, a conservation-oriented adventure company with ties to unique travel destinations like Yemen, Central African Republic and the Galapagos. Inspired by the most notable explorers and conservationists, Jessica pioneers through the most remote and uncharted destinations with her guests, uncovering amazing wildlife and cultural treasures.

Jessica has guided trips for, and worked closely with, the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. In October 2013, Jessica spoke at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York City, and was one of 50 women chosen by the National Wildlife Federation to participate in the Women's Leadership and International Sustainable Development conference in Washington, DC.

Jessica has also written travel articles for several publications, including Spirituality & Health Magazine, and she has been featured on Be on the lookout for her upcoming podcast, available on iTunes with MTNmeister, for tips on how to survive a coup d’etat. You can follow Jessica’s company on Twitter @WANTexpeditions for updates on conservation issues and exciting wildlife destinations.
Matthew Karsten

Photo by: Matthew Karsten

Matthew Karsten

Matthew Karsten runs the popular travel adventure blog Expert Vagabond. He's been exploring the world on a budget since 2010, when he quit a photography job and packed his life into a backpack.

Since then, Matthew has camped on erupting volcanoes, lived with indigenous tribes, hitchhiked across the United States, volunteered in remote villages, swum with sharks and trekked through jungles across the world.

Matthew's adventures have been featured on Mashable, CNN, National Geographic and in the Chicago Tribune. He shares crazy stories, amazing photography and useful advice on his travel blog, while hoping to inspire others to get out there and see the world on a budget.
Linda McCormick
Linda McCormick is a Melbourne-based freelance writer and editor who founded, an online ecotourism and green travel guide. She has visited 23 countries on 5 continents.

During her travels, Linda became more aware of the negative impacts of globetrotting and the importance of sustainable travel options. Eco Traveller Guide is her avenue for sharing responsible travel tips, ideas and stories.

Linda’s work has been published in newspapers and magazines in Australia and the UK, and on a number of websites. You can connect with Linda on Eco Traveller's Facebook page and on Twitter @EcoTraveller.
Valerie Conners
Valerie Conners is a freelance writer who has worked with Travel Channel for more than 13 years, specializing in a number of travel topics, including beach vacations and outdoors and adventure travel.

Travel has ruled her life since she studied abroad in Leuven, Belgium; she's since traveled to 6 continents and dozens of countries.

Valerie’s work has also appeared in many online and print publications, including AOL Travel, Skye on AOL, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer’s Travel Guides, the Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

She's happiest when eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. Valerie blogs about her travels at
Kwin Mosby
Kwin Mosby has almost 2 decades of experience in the media industry. In addition to working for as an online producer for 6 years, Kwin has worked as a TV news reporter/producer at KBJR-TV in Duluth, MN; an associate producer at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul; and an associate producer for BBC’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Today, Kwin manages the Destinations and Interests content on, including the Outdoors and Adventure section of the site. His role as managing producer requires him and his team to monitor the latest travel news and hot travel trends to keep the website and its accompanying The Traveling Type blog relevant.

When he’s not working, Kwin visits relaxing beach locations, cultural urban epicenters and prime destinations for outdoors enthusiasts, such as Costa Rica, Miami, Santorini, Barcelona, New York City, Paris, London and Brazil. Follow Kwin and his adventures @KwinMosby.

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