Meet Starre Vartan, a/k/a Eco-Chick
Guest Author Starre Vartan brings a unique and passionate voice to Luxury Travel. You may already know Starre as Eco-Chick, a leading authority on green living and sustainable travel. Among Starre's fields of expertise:
- The ethical lifestyle
- Natural beauty
- Responsible travel
- Sustainable shelter and design
Starre's Other Prestigious Media Outlets
Starre has examined and promoted the ethical lifestyle for over a decade. Some of her media platforms:
- Her award-winning site, Eco-Chick
- And its sister site, Eco-Chick Escapes
- Starre's book, published by St. Martin's Press: The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green
- Starre has been featured in The New York Times (three times!)
- She has been honored by Shape, Glamour, and Whole Living magazines for her work on preserving the planet through personal choices.
The Making of a Starre
Starre's family is half from Manhattan (on her father's side) and half from Sydney, Australia (on her mother's side).
Growing up, Starre, an only child, split her time between New York's Hudson Valley (cool green mountains, woodsy environs) and Sydney (all beach, all the time). Both environments shaped Starre's dedication to living lighter on the planet.
A Childhood without Borders
"My American and Australian dual citizenship and travel-loving family, on both sides, made me a born traveler," says Starre. "Early on, I developed a knack for sleeping on planes, packing carryon and negotiating with non-English speakers."
"I'm still finding ways to travel smarter and greener," she says.
Nature Keeps Calling
"I spent the school year in in the hamlet of Garrison, New York, on the Hudson River," says Starre. "We lived in a modern house perched over a wetland at the end of a long dirt road. I spent my days after school roaming the surrounding woods."
"And that's how my love of adventure began," she says. "My playtime was filled with hiking, freeclimbing, treeclimbing, bouldering, and mountain biking."
"And once you've enjoyed the thrill of outdoor sports, there's no going back," Starre feels.
By Land and by Sea
Australian visits and a surfer Dad meant Starre was splashing in the ocean just months after she was born. This certified water baby is an accomplished competitive swimmer and former lifeguard. And she loves to jump into any body of water, from mountain lake to Mayan cenote, from salty sea to swimming pool. (Photographic proof is on this page.)
The Book That Saved Starre
Starre has been riding horses since she was six years old, and is trained in both English dressage and Western riding styles. When she was growing up, a number of her neighbors kept horses, and she helped to train and exercise the lovely equines.
Recalls Starre, "When a retired polo pony took the bit in its teeth and ran away across a field with me at age 14, I knew what to do from reading my favorite book."
Starre and the Runaway Pony
"For some reason, even though my instructors had told me what to do if a horse runs away with you, I flashed back to Little House on the Prairie. In it, author Laura Ingalls had to stop a runaway horse."
"The key is not to pull on the reins, because the horse can't feel that when it's got the bit gripped in its teeth," says Starre. "What you have to do is quickly jerk one side of the reins, so you can get the bit out of the hold of the horse's teeth."
"It worked," reports Starre. "I was then able to stop the horse, just short of a bramble-covered stone wall!"
Starre's Biggest Influencer (Two-Legged Division)
Starre was raised by her grandmother. "She instilled both a love of travel (most birthday presents were trips!) and a love of the natural world," says the grateful granddaughter. "She raised me on fresh, local, organic food from her large vegetable garden and fruit trees, plus neighbor's eggs and a local farm's meats.
"There was no 'kid food' for me," says Starre. "I ate what the grownups did at home as well as in far-flung locales. And I was expected to try new foods without complaint. Now, I relish encountering unfamiliar foods."
"Grandma taught me so much more," says Starre. "She always took me off the beaten tourist path. She showed me how to be comfortable anywhere, and to love exploring places far from the small town I grew up in."
Grandma's Own Travel App
Starre still observes Grandma's travel tip:
- It's easy to get flustered by exchange rates, or by doing the math in your head
- So keep a card handy with the currency conversion of the country you're in
- Good places: taped to the bottom of your bag, or right in your wallet for quick reference
The Schooling of Eco-Chick
Starre earned her bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in upstate New York. Her studies focused on Geology, Biology, and English. She spent time as a student abroad in Madrid.
Later, Starre earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from prestigious Columbia University in New York City.
Starre's Fashionable Travel Suggestions
"I always pack a monochrome+2 wardrobe when I travel," she says.
- That means black and white separates (solids, or prints like polka dots or stripes)...
- ...Plus two accent colors
- Starre usually goes with blue and green, or blue and red
- Everything works with everything
- And because they do, you can pack — and carry — less
Starre's Definition of Luxury Travel
What's luxurious to Eco-Chick?
- Seeing a local ecosystem undisturbed and getting to indulge in it (and leaving a zero footprint)
- Having an ultra-comfortable place to stay, with a super-soft bed and fabulous view
- Dining on healthy, local food
- And sipping great, natural drinks
- Horseback riding to a deserted beach or waterfall
- Getting dirty outside and anticipating the nice cool shower awaiting in my room
- Original spa treatments
- And truly great service; nothing's more relaxing than knowing you're well taken care of
Starre's Most Memorable Travel Experiences
- An hours-long traditional hammam bath treatment in Marrakech
- Running the famous Sydney Cliff Walk from beach to beach along multicolored sandstone cliffs
- Hiking the Continental Divide in Montana and seeing actual "purple mountains majesty"
- A tequila tasting on a rooftop bar in Mexico City during sunset
- A locally farmed breakfast at the St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kauai, Hawaii, overlooking the dramatic mountains which were the "Bali Hai" set from South Pacific
- Whitewater-rafting Class IV rapids in Costa Rica, followed by a lovely riverside lunch with wine!
Wondering How Many Countries Starre Has Experienced?
27 and counting!
Keep Up with Starre Here on Luxury Travel
- Read Starre's description of a simple, elegant beachfront boutique hotel in the Dominican Republic, Sublime Samana
- Her story about swallowing her nerve and managing not to get swallowed herself swimming with humongous, hungry whale sharks in Cancun
Read and Follow Starre Vartan, Eco-Chick