Unlike most nine year olds who are excited for a trip to Disneyland, Cousteau made her first trip to the Amazon in childhood. No surprise for this passionate eco-activist, the granddaughter of famed French explorer, conservationist and filmmaker Jacques Yves Cousteau.
“I come from a family of storytellers,” says Cousteau. From the earliest traditions of sitting around the fire to talk about the day’s hunt or sharing information via social media in the 21st centuries, she explained that it’s stories that are the key to understanding.
Now as a lady with many hats — conservationist, fundraiser, filmmaker, motivational speaker, wife and mother — Cousteau is constantly flying across continents from university lecture halls to conference meeting rooms to inspire and encourage why we need to protect our precious planet earth.
Cousteau had added a new role: Brand Ambassador for the TreadRight Foundation, a charity created by The Travel Corporation to encourage sustainable tourism practices through conservation and leadership in the destinations visited by their tour groups. The Travel Corporation family includes well-known brands such as Insight Vacations, Trafalgar Tours, Red Carnation Hotels, Lion World Safaris, Uniworld River Cruises and Contiki Holidays, where Cousteau had been a sustainability advisor for the past four years.
Her grandfather’s legacy lives on within his granddaughter, who knows travel from several viewpoints: traveling well off the beaten path from an early age, growing up on two different continents, working as a tour guide for six years in Costa Rica, Spain and Peru for Butterfield & Robinson and creating her own film company, CauseCentric Productions, a non-profit currently working on a documentary with indigenous tribes of Vale do Javari reserve in the Brazilian Amazon called Tribes on the Edge.
She believes that we have to make better humans, and that we can’t just focus on the numbers.
“If somebody who doesn’t travel much, gets on an airplane and ends up having a life changing moment in a foreign culture who betters who they are…then that carbon footprint has value beyond the negative.”
Her request to travellers who want to explore our world is “take a moment, adapt a little and be respectful to the local culture.” She sees the trend of wanting to become like a local a welcome change in the travel industry.
And Cousteau’s advice to everyone – explore your own backyard as much as far-flung places.
“We’re not born with fear of places, people or animals. We might be shy or timid, but travelling is a privilege. If you have the privilege, let it make you a better person.”