Remembering Keith Bellows, Our Inspiration and Friend

Remembering Keith Bellows, Our Inspiration and Friend

Written by

Keith Bellows

Today we share in the outpouring of grief and remembrance after the untimely passing on Saturday of Keith Bellows, our director of consumer engagement.

After 17 years as an award-winning editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler, Bellows had only just begun to ramp up his efforts with us. The impression he left, however, was far, far greater than the short time during which his vision, passion, insight and energy helped guide our still-young endeavors.

After all, long before he assumed the title he chose with us, Bellows was instrumental in formulating the Family Travel Association mission, built on his foundational belief in the power of travel to transform children’s lives. Actually, to transform everyone’s lives, but he placed special emphasis on the critical and impressionable years of youth, when, in his words, “the true educational power of travel” has greatest effect.

With this as his polestar, and despite the real and perceived obstacles, Bellows was never afraid to lead by example. He always acted on behalf of his own beloved children in ways that he thought others should their own. As part of our current FTA Spotlight series on Re/Defining Family Travel, Bellows, an early and enthusiastic contributor, wrote an essay just last month about how to use travel as a learning tool. “Make Family Travel an Accepted Form of Education” is an appeal from him to common sense in the face of school systems convinced that “more learning occurs in a classroom than in the world beyond it.”

For the larger stage, his devotion to leveraging travel as an educational tool inspired him to author a 2013 book, 100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life: From Your Backyard to the Ends of the Earth.

In everything he did, Keith Bellows embodied the spirit of all that’s good about travel, something in which we also steadfastly believe. He may have left us in body, but his resonant and reasoned voice will continue to find echo in everything we do. We will always work to do honor to his insuppressible passion and his tenacious pursuit of noble values.

Rest in peace, Keith. We had packed for a long journey with you. As we know you would want, we travel on, our hearts made heavy by your absence, but our resolve buoyed by your example.

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6 responses to “Remembering Keith Bellows, Our Inspiration and Friend”

  1. David Bear says:

    I enjoyed the pleasure of Keith’s company both at NGT and travel journalism events. News of his death was a total surprise but somehow fitting.
    Once again Keith causes us to reflect on a destination to which we all must journey.

  2. Shocked and saddened to learn of Keith’s passing. Although I only met him once I was very impressed by the direction of his conversations about the greater role travel should play in American education. My prayers are with his family, co-workers and close friends.

  3. LiLing Pang says:

    So sorry to hear that this visionary who articulated and advocated so powerfully for the value of travel on children and families has passed on. I had the pleasure of listening to him speak once and what he said resonated deeply with my experience. I hope we can, as an association, carry on the torch he has left us with.

  4. I cannot say I knew Keith as a personal friend, but I will never forget the many years of reading his work and sharing his travels. In our few encounters he was a passionate and energetic voice for our industry, one who advocated learning over fun, truth over hype, compassion over selfies. The anecdote this Canadian shared at our TMS Family Travel conference in Niagara Falls — about hiking UP the falls when it had been dammed for some sort of engineering project — speaks volumes about his ambition… for himself, for us, for world travel and tourism. Thank you Ethan, for your comments, and condolences to Keith’s beloved family.

  5. Dan Earley says:

    Keith and I were great friends during our sophomore year in Bourges France in 1971. He was avant-garde even before they made up that term. Always the life of the party. I can still hear his laughter which was infectious spreading throughout the table we were sitting at. May he Rest in Peace.

  6. […] which we also steadfastly believe.” (“Remembering Keith Bellows, Our Inspiration and Friend,”, August 31, […]

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