I am Outdoor Editor at Matador Network. I write and edit stories focused on the outdoor activities and spaces, as well as the environment and, sustainability, all with a travel focus.
Previously, I authored several editions of Frommer’s San Francisco with Kids and Frommer’s San Francisco Day by Day. As a freelance travel writer, I penned multiple articles for Indagare Magazine, for its online and print editions, and have written for WestJet Magazine, TravelWorld International Magazine, Matador Network, Tablet Magazine, Take the Table, The Expeditioner, Go Adventure Travel, and several other print and online outlets.
I have written on non-travel topics for Parenthood Publications, the Olympic News Service (Vancouver), Jornal do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), and the Associated Press (Berlin). My writing has also appeared in USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Emerging Markets newspaper, and Jornal do Brasil, among other publications.
I’ve lived and worked on five continents. I received my BA in International Relations with departmental honors from Stanford University, and earned a Master of International Affairs degree at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. I’m fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, and I get by in French, Italian, and Catalan.
1. What got you into travel writing?
I have grew up living in several counties, and traveling has always been a part of my life. I’ve always always loved to write, working early on at the international desk of a major daily in Brazil and at the Berlin bureau of Associated Press. After becoming a mother, I became a regular contributor to a parenting magazine in San Francisco. This lead to an opportunity to author one, and then several more, editions of Frommer’s San Francisco with Kids and, after that, other Frommer’s guidebooks. Pursuing travel writing full time, with stories in many online and print publications, soon ensued.
2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
Pitching travel stories to new outlets is definitely the most challenging part. While the process helps me hone what would make a certain story interesting in a story and why it matters, it still takes time. Also, no matter how much research you do on each specific publication and how certain you are that your piece is an excellent fit for it, you don’t always have the benefit of knowing what they are specifically looking for at a particular time.
3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
Since I write a lot on adventure travel, such as skiing, surfing, or hiking, my phone is the most convenient all-in-one camera, tape recorder, and notepad. When my camera is too bulky to bring along, I trust my iPhone to take high-quality images. (I always turn it off “Live” mode for higher resolution shots). Even if I’m not going to use a photo for publication, it provides a shorthand way for me to remember what I need to describe later. I can also use my iPhone to record interviews. And, while I always like to have a notepad with me for interviews, sometimes I’ll find something worthy of writing down when I wasn’t expecting to — so I type it on my phone.
4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
I’m fortunate to have had almost too many crazy travel experiences to count. One of the most memorable occurred a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the countries of Eastern Europe were still nominally communist. I arrived at East Berlin’s Alexanderplatz station at the last minute for my train to Vienna. I knew the train stopped in Dresden and Prague, so when I saw “Dresden” on a platform, I jumped on that train — only to discover I was on an all-stops local that would end its journey many hours later in Dresden.
Fortunately, at the empty, dark station in Dresden — where I learned I’d have to wait a long time for a train to Prague, to then change trains to get to Vienna — I was befriended by an East German who invited me to her house to wait for the next train. We chatted the time away, and then she packed up some sandwiches for me to take along. I was soon on my way again, but since I didn’t have a visa to go to then Czechoslovakia, I was pulled off the train at the Czechoslovak border to await the official who sold visas. Waiting in the middle of the night in the cold, open-air waiting area, I read my Agatha Christie book, purchased used for 25 cents a few weeks before, as slowly as possible to pass the time.
Eventually I was on my way to Prague on a different train, arriving in the morning utterly sleep deprived. I changed money, found a payphone, inserted multiple coins, and left a message with an agreed-upon friend in case of emergencies, to tell the person expecting me in Vienna that I’d be very, very late. I then entered the station restaurant to have a coffee, surprised to find a group of Czech men singing drinking songs over their morning beers. When I stepped outside again, two young Hungarian men approached me, telling me they had seen me at the train station in Dresden. One spoke some German and one some English — so, between the two of them, I was able to use my language skills to explore the city with them.
Viewing the Prague Castle before the arrival of any western tourists was magical. Indeed, I had never seen a city as fairytale-like as Prague. By evening, I bade farewell to my two new Hungarian friends, scribbling their names and telephone numbers into a pocket-sized address book where I’d also written the contact info for my new friend in Dresden. I then boarded a train set for Vienna ready to meet the friend waiting me there, feeling as lucky as anyone who has ever missed a train could possibly feel.
5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
I learned about NATJA through TravelWorld International Magazine. It’s a great way to meet other travel journalists to share experiences and advice.
6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Find your travel writing niche. I’m often approached to write surf stories, or stories about surf locations, because it’s a topic I’ve written a lot about and am knowledgeable on. Finding your niche does not mean you are limited to writing about that topic, but it can help establish you as a go-to expert on a topic and help you stand out.