A Conversation with Discovery Channel’s Travel Star, Alison Teal
There is a new role model for women who seek adventure, love to travel, and want to make a difference while doing it. Alison Teal is a world traveler, soul surfer, filmmaker, and adventurer who recently completed filming the Discovery Channel’s survival show, Naked and Afraid. I spoke with Alison to learn more about how this 28-year-old started making her way around the globe, and how she got her film series, Alison’s Adventures off the ground.
Jaclyn: I understand you had quite an adventurous upbringing! Would you share some of your first memories of traveling and a little bit about your “wild parents” with Pink Pangea readers?
Alison: 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.’
Jaclyn: What was your college experience like? Did you have to slow down your travels?
Alison: Well, my parents would call me and say, ‘Are you ready to quit school yet?’ I’m a nerd–I really liked school. I graduated summa cum laude.
Jaclyn: How did you get involved with the Discovery Channel?
Alison: 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.
Jaclyn: What do you find to be most fun about creating the series Alison’s Adventures?
Alison: [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!
Jaclyn: Congrats on being named one of the top 25 college filmmakers by MTV. What was that like?
Alison: I run into meetings brushing the sand off my legs. I’m a nature bug and I love the clash of worlds, hollywood glam and the concrete adventures. It was a different adventure getting the awards.
Jaclyn: Any advice for blossoming activists?
Alison: 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.
Jaclyn: What’s next for you?
Alison: 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.
Follow Alison’s Adventures here.
To learn more about how Alison is making a difference in classrooms throughout the globe click here .
The above photos were taken by Sarah Lee. See more of Sarah’s work here.