I’m honored that the North American Travel Journalists Association selected me as the featured journalist of the month. Here’s my interview with them. You can also check it out on the NATJA website.
What got you into travel writing?
I’ve always loved to travel. And I’ve always loved to write. My professional writing career started 25 years ago when I worked for an environmental education company that makes exhibits and signs for parks, zoos, and wildlife areas. I remember writing about rainforest plants and animals from Indonesia and wanting to go there. Later I worked in the bike and outdoor industries, doing marketing and communications. I would carefully plot out my vacations to be able to explore as many parts of the world as possible. My husband and I even took a year off to travel. Then about five years ago, I realized I could put all of my experience together to become an outdoor, adventure, and travel writer. I am now living at the perfect intersection of all of my interests. It’s amazing to see now how everything I did all those years led up to this day, although I didn’t know this is where I was going.
What’s the most challenging part of travel writing for you?
Undoubtedly it’s pitching stories. I can have the best idea in the world, but if I don’t tailor it perfectly to the right editor and the right publication and tie it perfectly to their editorial calendar, then I can’t sell my story. Sometimes I feel like I’m stabbing in the dark.
What’s the one thing (equipment or personal item) you can’t go without on the road?
My little spiral-bound notebook that fits perfectly in the side pocket of my pants. I’m constantly whipping out that thing to jot down notes. With travel writing, it’s helpful to record thoughts, ideas, and sensory details in the moment. A lot of times experiences are so packed, the details get lost if you don’t write them down.
What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
I’ve had so many amazing and memorable travel experiences, its tough to whittle it down to just one. Kyrgyzstan was an especially interesting one. I went there earlier this year to go backcountry skiing based out of a yurt camp in the Tien Shan Mountains near the borders of China and Kazakhstan. For a week, my husband, four friends, and I slept together on the floor of a yurt and went skiing with guides from 40 Tribes. A couple of local villagers tended camp, cooking traditional food and giving insight into their lives. It was total immersion into the landscape and culture, and it pushed me mentally and physically.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Be persistent, don’t take rejection personally, and for goodness sake, make sure you can write. If your grammar skills are lacking, take a course. Dangling modifiers are painful.