2020 October Featured Journalist: Jennifer Coleman

Born and bred in Colorado, Jennifer spent much of her professional career in the adventure travel industry. She taught skiing and pro-patrolled at many of the premier mountains in the western US for 20 years. In addition, she guided white water rafting for 7 years, and spent many years working as a rope course facilitator. Jennifer is also highly experienced in the service industry with over 20 years of resort and spa experience, including being part of the opening team as the Spa Lead/ Brand Standards Learning Coach with Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain and a Concierge at Hilton Torrey Pines.

Jennifer is a chronic non-repeater (illustrated by my many professional hats) who really enjoys the diversity of life. This led her to launching Coleman Concierge in 2016 with her partner in life and business Ed. In a nutshell, they are an Huntsville-based Gen X couple sharing their stories of amazing adventures through activity driven transformational and experiential travel. They advocate for sustainable and ethical tourism and truly believe in the power of travel to transform both ourselves as well as the world around us. Our tagline is amazing adventures for ordinary people because we contend that you don’t have to be super-rich, super-fit or super-anything to have an amazing adventure. Expanding your comfort zone and trying new things will pay huge dividends in both health and happiness.

1. What got you into travel writing?

I spent my life pursuing the extraordinary as a skiing professional. I believe life is short, and the world was big, so I turned a gap year of skiing when I was 18 into a twenty-year career. I worked my way across ski mountains in the west with stops in Colorado, California, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Montana.

Just after my 36th birthday, my knees forced me off the mountain for good. I was devastated, but not ready to settle down. I started travel writing to keep exploring and discovering. 

2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?

For me, it’s all the different hats you have to wear. On any given day, I’m a publicist, photographer, social media manager, content creator, and more! On the plus side, being a chronic non-repeater, I do enjoy the variety in my day.

3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?

I always travel with my own pillow. I take my full-size bamboo pillow for car trips, and I have a matching travel pillow for the flights. A good pillow can improve any bed you find yourself on.

4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?

On my first trip to Asia, we took a bike tour down the coast of Thailand. Every day, we traveled the same route as a Thai rockstar, Toon Bodyslam, who was on a long-distance charity run. On the final day of our trip, we biked through the run’s finish line with thousands of Thai villagers lining the road and cheering us on. I don’t know if they ever figured out that Ed and I weren’t part of the Toon Bodyslam entourage, but it might not have mattered. The run raised over 5-million dollars for charity, and the country felt like cheering. 

5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?

We believe that to be the best, you need to surround yourself by the best. We searched out the premier professional organizations and applied as soon as we were eligible. So far, the connections we have made and friends we found made everything worthwhile. 

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?

Manners and gratitude will take you more places than entitlement and ego. I went through Cotillion as a girl and spent a decade working in upscale resorts. We strive to be known as writers with gratitude, not attitude.

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