Jon Gorey has been a regular freelance contributor to the Boston Globe and Boston Globe Magazine since 2014, writing everything from real estate cover stories to travel features (which, of course, are the most fun!). He’s also written for Apartment Therapy, The Culture Trip, Mommy Poppins, and Boston Magazine, among other outlets. In the past two years, he has received multiple honors from the National Association of Real Estate Editors, including the Presidents Gold Award for Best Freelance Collection (2019).
1. What got you into travel writing?
It’s all I ever wanted to do! But it was well into my 30s, and after many boring bylines, before I actually got paid for it.
2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
As a 21st century freelancer, most places don’t reimburse me for expenses, so trying to do a lot of cool and interesting stuff on a family trip without spending more than a piece is actually going to pay can be a tough balance to strike.
3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
Either my wife and daughter, or my guitar (see below).
4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
Before cell phones, I was kicked off an overnight train to Barcelona — I had no cash to cover the $7 reservation fee, only a credit card and a Europass, and my friend (who had actual cash) was in the bathroom throwing up whiskey. I ended up in a lovely town, though, called San Sebastian, and I spent the next day busking along the waterfront, where I made enough money for the next night’s train. I wrote a song about it a lifetime ago.
Hmm. And on our last night in Buenos Aires about 10 years ago, we checked into a B&B pretty late, and the innkeeper noticed my guitar — he said he was going to Peña Colorado after it closed at midnight to jam with a bunch of musicians and invited us to go. So we did, and we played and sang and listened to Argentinian (and American) folk songs doused in red wine over ice. A wonderful local guitarist with a southern US accent befriended us — he had once fallen in love with an American girl, and learned to speak English through Johnny Cash songs. When we left at 3am — our flight was at 10am — the party roared on.
5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
The travel writing awards — I had a couple of pieces I was really proud of and wanted to enter them into a competition.
6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Approach everything with a genuine sense of curiosity and wonder. Even fairly mundane or much-covered destinations can hold a good travel story if you see it in a different light.