Intelligent Travel

About Intelligent Travel

Cultural, Authentic & Sustainable: This is your brain on travel. We showcase the essence of place, what's unique and original, and what locals cherish most about where they live. And we highlight places, practices, and people that are on the front lines of sustainable travel--travel that preserves places' essential uniqueness for future generations.

Our mission is rooted in what the National Geographic Society stands for: inspiring people to care about the planet. Traveler and Intelligent Travel also want you to experience and enjoy the planet. We want to help you journey with greater sensitivity to the impact your trip has on a place and its inhabitants.

Sometimes we celebrate, sometimes we criticize. But we always try to heighten awareness about what's really important about travel: finding great places, experiencing them fully, and leaving them no worse for your visit.

Email: intelligenttravel at ngs dot org

Have you ever wondered what makes an award-winning photograph? Here’s your chance to find out. Join the judges of the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest for a Google+ Hangout On Air, and get the inside scoop on how they chose this year’s winners (they’ll be announced at the end of July!) from more than 18,000 submissions.

The best day hikes have an element of quest, or mission, which is why so many of them climb to the top of a mountain or a landmark. Such is the case with many of the hikes presented below. But there’s no serious mountain trekking here—the point of each hike is the experience of getting there—and the inspiring view gained at the quest’s end.

#NGTRadar: Travel Lately

The Radar–the latest and best from the travel blogosphere–is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every other Wednesday.

You can play, too. Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTravel and tag your favorite travel stories #NGTRadar to help us find the crème de la crème on the Web.

America does beaches extremely well, a point I didn’t begin to realize until my 20s, when I tried to sunbathe on a jam-packed stretch of Spanish shore. But too many of the towns along our coastlines have become charmless and generic. They feel like shopping malls with sand. Then there are those that shine. Here are seven of the best.

America’s national parks are showcases of extraordinary geological phenomena. While some of them are famous, others are unsung, unexplained, or just plain strange. But, to be sure, all of them spur the imagination, helping us to appreciate the forces that have shaped the nation and its parks. Here are five of the most fascinating geological wonders you can find in America’s national parks.

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in July.

By the time I get to Gasparilla Island, a glorified sandbar off Florida’s west coast that’s about an hour’s drive from Fort Myers or Sarasota and a whole lot harder to reach from everywhere else, Labor Day has come and gone. I’m seeking the warmth of the sun, and a genuine Florida beach town that will serve as an antidote to the forests of condos and hotels that line the coasts north of Miami and south of Tampa. I find it in Boca Grande.

#NGTRadar: Travel Lately

The Radar–the latest and best from the travel blogosphere–is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every other Wednesday. Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTravel and tag your favorite travel stories #NGTRadar to help us find the crème de la crème on the Web. Here are our latest picks.

Finding the right hike for children can be tricky: The trail needs to be safe and not too strenuous, yet interesting enough to keep the young folks’ attention. As a bonus, it would be nice if the hike stimulated them to want to learn more about the place. America’s national parks abound in good kids’ hikes–both traditional and non-traditional. Here are six of the best and most diverse.

In woodlands and jungles, along coastlines, and on mountaintops, parks and trails have been created where you can enjoy nature and art together. Here are our picks for the ten best sculpture parks in the world.

In July, I fly to Portland and drive two hours to the Oregon coast, then turn south of Manzanita. By the time I pull up at Big Wave, a glorified diner at the top of town, it’s 58 degrees under a cotton white sky. A brisk wind has the pines flailing. At the far end…

Opportunities for outdoor play abound in Jerusalem—you just have to know where to find them. Here’s a brief guide to six great activities for the young (and young at heart) in one of the oldest cities in the world.

I’d never come close to a shotgun before. Or a bear. To me, a girl from New York City and the mother of a five-month-old son, that bear was as terrifying a threat as Godzilla. Luckily, it didn’t attack us, but it did eat the Naugahyde window padding off our parked camper before my then-husband’s…

Orleans isn’t the quaintest town on the cape, nor the largest or most renowned. Yet it remains my favorite. Set just above the crook of the arm of the peninsula, it’s far enough out to discourage day-trippers but on the easy side of the long, traffic-clogged slog up Route 6 to the outer cape. It’s a real place, not a stage set.

#NGTRadar: Travel Lately

The Radar–the latest and best from the travel blogosphere–is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every other Wednesday. Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTravel and tag your favorite travel stories #NGTRadar to help us find the crème de la crème on the Web. Here are our latest picks.

A 19th-century traveler from France once remarked of Quebec City, “It looked like St.-Malo strayed up here and was lost in the snow.” Though Taras Grescoe has settled in Montreal, an easy three-hour drive away, every time he returns to Quebec City he too succumbs to the illusion that he’s been teleported to the narrow streets of that walled city in Brittany, bewitched by the vista of steeples, horse-drawn calèches, and four-centuries-old ramparts.

The Golden State may be in the midst of a new tech gold rush, but there are plenty of places throughout California that attracted free spirits in the 1960s and ’70s and still carry a torch for the Age of Aquarius, such as Topanga Canyon, Big Sur, San Francisco, and NoCal’s sparsely populated Shangri-la, Weaverville. Here’s how to make the most of your visit to these epicenters of laid-back cool.

Lima is in full throttle. Lunch rolls seamlessly into dinner. 
Dancing keeps going long after last call. Across the more than a thousand-square-mile sprawl of Peru’s capital, from the working-class Chorrillos barrio to highbrow San Isidro and along the glorious Pacific coastline, pure urban exhilaration reigns, and just about all of the 8.8 million inhabitants are caught up in it.

The Glacier Skywalk is officially open for business, debuting an awe-inspiring vantage of Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, while replacing a once dangerous pullout along the Icefields Parkway. Acrophobics need not apply.

#NGTRadar: Travel Lately

The Radar–the best of the travel blogosphere–is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every other Wednesday. Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTravel and tag your favorite travel stories #NGTRadar to help us find the crème de la crème on the Web. Here are our latest picks.

If you like Paris in the springtime, you’ll love Provence in the summer. The region’s famous lavender fields burst into full flower at the end of June and last until the beginning of August in a good year. Don’t miss your chance to see–and smell–the fragrant herbs up close and personal this year. Here are three great places to stay while you’re there.

Riverboats, wrought iron balconies, Creole culture, a famous jazz fest, and flamboyance in the face of hardship. Where else could this describe but … Saint-Louis, Senegal?

“A river changes people, even if they’re not looking to change,” says Bill “Bronco” Bruchak. He should know, having guided on rivers since 1978, including 80 commercial trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River through the protected Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness, in central Idaho. “White water makes you let go of…

Tell your kids you’re visiting where the real Pocahontas was married, and motor through ten miles of woodlands along Colonial Parkway from Williamsburg to Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Colonies, dating to 1607. After the buzz of Colonial Williamsburg, this quietly purposeful archaeological site on the James River seems Zen-like. Take a…

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in June.