Alana Nichols is the definition of #travelinspiration. A bonafide globetrotter, Nichols, who’s also a notable advocate for ear and hearing care, will soon be back on small screens around the world when the newest season of her show—Follow Alana—releases on digital platforms starting March 19. Since its debut in 2017, Nichols has accrued high praise for the series, which has seen her tackling adventures head-on in locations like Taiwan and Australia. This time around she’ll be exploring Switzerland. Fodor’s had the chance to interview Nichols over email about her show, the travel industry as a whole, and how COVID-19 has impacted her profession.
Whether you’ve already mapped out itineraries for your next luxury vacation or you’re simply researching locales for your first post-pandemic trip, Nichols and her Swiss journeys—which include hiking with llamas, paragliding, and even chatting with tennis legend Roger Federer—will no doubt conjure some #travelinspiration.
What inspired you to travel to Switzerland?
I’ve always been very drawn to the culture and geography in Switzerland. I’m fascinated by this small country with a unique political system and four official languages despite having a small population! There were endless topics for us to cover in the season.
Did you have any preconceived notions about the country or its culture? Was there anything you were surprised by during your trip?
What surprised me the most was the striking similarities I noticed between Switzerland and Taiwan, where I grew up. Both are small yet have high mountain densities and I could not help but be reminded of my home when driving around in Switzerland. What is beautiful about the lifestyle in Switzerland is the strong alpine culture. I remember being fascinated when one of our guides headed home after a day of work by paragliding (his normal commute).
If there’s one thing you’d like viewers to walk away with after watching Follow Alana, what would that be?
Traveling is a powerful way of opening and changing one’s perspective and realizing there is not one lifestyle that suits everyone. Despite our differences, I also have noticed our shared humanity in my travels.
This season was filmed before COVID-19 hit. Being such an avid traveler, has the pandemic affected how you see the world?
I’m very grateful we were able to complete filming safely before the pandemic hit. What this pandemic has demonstrated is how incredibly interconnected we all are. At the same time, I think it has forced many of us to reconsider our lifestyle and values. Studies have shown over and over again how energizing and healing it is to be outdoors, but I think it has become more evident when that option is taken away.
An oxymoron I’ve often thought about in quarantine is our attempt to shorten the distance between ourselves and our loved ones. At the same time, many of us are seeking physical distance, whether through open outdoor spaces or travel.
Has it been difficult to keep the travel bug inside of you satiated in the last year? Have you picked up any pastimes or hobbies to keep yourself distracted?
As someone who is used to being on the go, having a busy schedule, and going on adventures regularly, the beginning was challenging. In an odd way, the pandemic has forced me to slow down and take care of side projects and passions previously neglected because of my busy schedule. In quarantine, I’ve taken up yoga, training, surfing, and finally got [around] to reading the stack of books on my shelf.
You were a speaker at the 2021 World Health Organization Report on Hearing. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
It was an honor to speak about the importance of representation in the field of ear and hearing care. My mother, who was an avid traveler and spoke seven languages fluently, played a huge role in shaping who I am today. My speech at the World Health Organization was a tribute to her as the champion in not only my life, but the lives of many other families with hearing loss in Asia.
If you could change one thing about the travel industry, what would that be?
I’d like to see prices become more affordable to a wider group of customers and have unnecessary fees and inflexible policies dropped. There is no doubt the travel industry was largely impacted by the pandemic, but only time will tell how it changes going forward.
And, finally, where will you be traveling to next?
I plan to try my hand at skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Lake Tahoe! Once it is safe to travel internationally, I cannot wait to explore South America, Antarctica, and many more places.