- The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/20/alisons-adventures_n_5250954.html
- Conscious Connection Magazine: http://www.consciousconnectionmagazine.com/2013/12/alison-teal-eco-adventurer/
- The Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/0521/Alison-Teal-validates-adventure-parenting-style
- The Guardian: http://guardianlv.com/2014/05/alison-teal-the-oprah-of-adventures/
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of your first memories of traveling. Tell us a little bit about your “wild parents.”
I was born on the floor of a tiny log cabin high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. What was and is normal family life for me is light years away from most people’s idea of normal. But for me it was the only life I knew from birth until I first saw the inside of a school room on the high slopes of the Himalayas in Nepal at the age seven. I thought – Wow! I’m in an actual school with other children. And a teacher. Inside a building. How strange. How weird. How exotic. I was raised around the world homeschooled by my adventure photographer parents.
My papa, David Blehert, is a world-renowned adventure photographer for companies such as National Geographic, Patagonia, LowePro, and Teva. When I was two months old, my parents took me skiing on Ausangate, the highest peak in Southern Peru, and since then, my life has been a whirlwind of high adventure. My mother, Deborah Koehn is a naturalist and an internationally acclaimed yoga devotee and teacher. Together as a family, we formed a company called Yoga Adventure and guided trips around the world.
Eventually we set up a base in Hawaii, and called our home, ‘base camp.’
What was it like to grow up in the wild?
Basically I was that Tarzan child raised around the world. My parents were adventure photographers for National Geographic and almost every outdoor company you could think of. At two months old, they whisked me up the highest peak in Southern Peru and thought that would be a good initiation.
The adventurous life just took off after that. We spent my childhood exploring remote corners of the earth, living with tribal people and building a global family. The shaman from Eat Pray Lovew as my painting teacher.
I call it an interesting form of homeschooling because I didn’t really have a home but it was school on the road. The world was my classroom and the people I met along the way were my textbooks. I didn’t have to learn about India. I would walk out the door, hop on my elephant and take a ride around the block. I learned more about India on that day then I could have in an entire lesson plan.
I think since I’m a traveler, my favorite place is home. My biggest dream in the world was to go to a normal school, ironically. I wanted a white picket fence and a normal house and a school bus. I didn’t really know what it meant. I just saw it on films during airplane flights.
I went to school for the first time in the Himalayas at the base of Mt. Everest and we had to hike a 17,000 foot pass to get there. It wasn’t what I’d thought of with school but that was my first taste. Then there’s our Swiss Family Robinson style Hawaii house, but that’s a whole other part of childhood.
What do you find to be most fun about creating the series Alison’s Adventures?
We visited a lot of places that no one has entered, and the people there just opened the door.
My goal for my Alison’s Adventures brand and film series it to enlighten and educate the kid in everyone through humorous entertainment that leads to action!
How did you get involved with the Discovery Channel? What was it like being on Naked and Afraid?
I was filming on a tiny island where my cell phone had no reception. Somehow there was a throughline and it was the Discovery Channel. I’m not loopy–the island is magical.
It’s interesting because I’ve never taken a survival course in my life. The producers called me about a year before and asked if I wanted to be in one of the harshest locations on earth, naked with a man I’d never met. I thought, wow, thank you but no thank you.
I said no multiple times because I want to be an inspiration for kids and families. I don’t want to be the girl naked on TV. But once I started learning more about the concept, I agreed. They basically condensed thousands of years of societal progression into a couple of months. Cavemen took a thousand years just to figure out how to make tools. I finally thought, okay, this is not MTV, this is Discovery, let’s give it a whirl. It was pretty amazing.
What was your college experience like? Did you have to slow down your travels?
My parents would call me and say, ‘Are you ready to quit school yet?’ I’m a nerd–I really liked school. I even shocked myself and graduated summa cum laude from USC film school.
Any advice for blossoming adventurers?
If you have a dream or a desire to make a difference in the world, it can sometimes seem daunting — ’where do I start?’ In my experience, it is all about ‘one step at a time.’ If someone had told me it would take eight years to create my Alison’s Adventures films series, I would have been very discouraged. However, in hindsight, it is truly about the journey, not the destination. As a wise elder in a distant land once told me in broken English, the secret to happiness and success is to have an open heart.
What's next for you?
My dream is to keep finding these cool people and cool places and sharing the magic and mystery. It’s amazing how one person can change the world. Bringing social problems to light through a story and keeping the eco side is important.
What advice you could give our readers to help them fulfill their purpose and live an eco-conscious lifestyle?
Go back to your roots. It doesn’t mean you have to follow in your family’s footsteps or anything, just your roots inside of you. What was your original root that really made you shine? Made you get that excited tingle of passion inside? If you’re living the life you dream of then you’re helping the earth.
Are there any world issues that you are particularly concerned about or seen first hand around the world?
Over the years, I have found that the pristine places I grew up in: Indonesia, Fiji and even her home in Hawaii — are now covered in plastic bottles and trash.
The tipping point came in March 2013 when I was in Discovery Channel’s ‘Naked and Afraid,’ which placed me on a desolate island in the Maldives to survive with a male partner for 21 days. Every day, while looking for food I was shocked by the amount of beach trash covering the uninhabited island. There was literally no where to step without coming across a plastic bottle. I was later surprised to learn that villagers from the surrounding islands had spent an entire week cleaning the island for the show, boating away of tons of trash – and it still looked like an “island dump.”
And of course the most pressing issue, as stated by the former President of the Maldives, is the terrible threat of climate change to the sinking country. He stated a few years back, “If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be underwater in seven years.”
Where will all the people go? Where will all the plastic go?
What is the most interesting peoples & cultures you've experienced?
One day we heard about this incredible hot spring or “fountain or youth” high up in the mountains of India and decided to set out on a trek to find it. My papa threw his back out while trekking and we though we would have to carry him back down, but along the way we met an “140 year old” sadhu (“holy man”) who had some mind blowing philosophies on life and answers to life’s greatest mysteries – and with his bare hands fixed my dad’s back. A similar story happened in my film INCANtations on my website when my parents went in search of a lost village high in the Andes said to have the most powerful shamans on earth.
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