Kwin is a travel-lifestyle journalist, who writes from an African-American and LGBTQ+ perspective. With more than 20 years of editorial experience, Kwin has worked as a TV news producer for BBC News, a managing digital producer for Travel Channel, and a content manager for Travel Leaders Group. His work has been featured in digital and print publications such as Travel + Leisure, Departures, Newsweek, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, and Lavender Magazine. His areas of interest include but are not limited to luxury travel, adventure, and immersive cultural experiences. Some of his favorite adventures include visiting an island resort in the Maldives, going on a safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve, attending Bear Week in Sitges, Spain, hang gliding off Pedra Bonita in Rio de Janeiro, and taking a Black Walking Tour through Paris.
1. What got you into travel writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. Almost 30 years ago, my journalism career started out working as a TV news reporter – then a TV news producer – at KBJR-TV in Duluth, Minnesota. So, I initially enjoyed talking to people to bring an article or story to life for the viewer. My passion for travel and travel writing flourished after grad school and while working at Travel Channel as a digital producer. Back then, the cable network had authentic travel programming with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Samantha Brown, and Andrew Zimmern. I also did some freelance writing on the side, but it wasn’t until three years ago, that I decided to become a full-time freelance travel journalist and editor – definitely one of the best career moves I’ve made.
2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
Although I’m a contributing writer for a variety of mainstream publications, I am also a writer and editor for Vacationer Magazine, a new LGBTQ+ travel publication created to showcase the diversity of our community, including how transgender, lesbian, and queer people of color travel. So, covering the different niche travelers successfully can be a daunting task. But it’s my hope that whatever I write and or whatever we cover; it comes across as us being authentic and inclusive.
3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
My iPhone. Taking photos, writing notes, recording interviews, and making connections via social media are some of the reasons why it’s a travel necessity.
4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
Every place has a unique place in my heart because even if it’s not a good experience, there’s usually an underlying teachable moment. But I have to say that traveling to Brazil for three weeks and visiting Rio, Sao Paulo, Iguazu Falls, Florianopolis, and Salvador de Bahia was like visiting different people with distinctive personalities.
I enjoyed Salvador for its rich African culture. I felt right at home. Florianopolis has some of the most beautiful stretches of sand, including Praia Mole, and Rio was memorable for my first tandem hang-gliding experience, literally jumping off the side of Pedra Bonita.
Going on a luxury safari in Kenya and taking a tour in Paris that focused on the African diaspora’s contributions and influences on the city are memorable travel experiences, too.
5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
I can’t remember how I found out about it, but I’m sure it was about two or three years ago when I wanted to expand my network and connect with other writers who enjoy traveling the world as much as I do.
6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Be receptive to learning new things and refining your travel writing skills. That’s a necessary measure to ensure your personal growth. And also, be bold enough to take on opportunities that push you outside of your comfort zone. They usually turn out to be the most personally rewarding experiences.