From the Desk of Todd Smith, Founder and Director
An Early Love For Travel
I credit my grandfather, George William Coale, for my love of travel. Every year he returned home from the next grand adventure, regaling me with wondrous stories and slide shows. When I graduated high school his gift was a flight to London, a European student tour and Eurorail pass. I have been traveling ever since.
North to Alaska
As I was about to graduate college, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The illness and its treatment would change my life. I moved to Lake Tahoe where one winter of skiing turned into a lifestyle. One day Lisa, my girlfriend (now wife), pointed to a newspaper ad seeking summer employees in Alaska. Thus began my career as a guide, spending many incredible summers in Alaska and winters in Lake Tahoe, with spring and fall reserved for backpacking the American West, Europe, and Central and South America.
Small Ship Pioneer
After working at a remote Alaskan lodge and guiding in Alaska, I was hired as a naturalist guide for a company that operated several small overnight vessels. I became lead expedition guide aboard a fleet of small ships, exploring Alaska and Mexico, showing travelers incredible nature and giving slide shows in the lounge. In this dream job I was exposed to customer service and marine operations to marketing and sales, along the way convincing management to embrace adventure programs. We outfitted our vessels with kayaks, zodiacs and launch platforms to allow our travelers to access Alaska’s spectacular wilderness. The response was astounding.
When I was backcountry guiding, the clientele were already rugged, conservation-minded travelers. The small ship clientele was less rugged and more mainstream. It was amazing – still is -- to witness their sense of awe and wonder when experiencing true wilderness up close. During this type of life changing travel experience, it’s easy for a guide to create connections between the traveler and the destination. At the conclusion of each trip most guests want to participate in the preservation of Alaska’s national treasures as well as become active in conservation at home. Early on I saw an opportunity to provide this special type of backcountry experience to mainstream travelers while fostering conservation. This planted the seed for what would eventually become AdventureSmith Explorations.
To complement my experience in the small ship cruise industry I worked for several years as general manager with a leading ecotourism pioneer and founding member of The International Ecotourism Society, learning the nuances of developing, organizing and executing land tours to the world’s finest lodges and reserves.
I founded AdventureSmith Explorations to provide a unique style of active travel that combines small ships, yachts and lodges in a sustainable model of lodge-based wilderness ecotourism, forwarding our mission to allow travelers to experience nature, culture and wildlife, thus creating a connection with and positively contributing to the communities and environments we visit.