Ruksana has been writing for more than 20 years about everything from food and travel to social media and community leaders. Her experiences have her covering local events and connecting with people from varied walks of life. She also travels nationally and internationally for stories and chronicles those adventures on her travel site.
To date, her work as a feature writer and journalist has appeared in Diversity Professional, Construction Equipment Guide, Cuisine Noir, Irvine Weekly, Delta Sky Lines, and more. Among her skills are AP Style guide proficiency and Adobe InDesign/InCopy for magazines.
Ruksana also writes for custom publishing companies and provides writing services such as website content and newsletter copy to local and national businesses. She is experienced in crafting long-form features and shorter blog post-style stories with equal finesse. Her other services include copy edits and proofreading for books and ghostwriting.
Originally from India, and raised in Oman, Ruksana holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a certificate in French from the Alliance Francaise in Atlanta. She has also completed certification courses at Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas on Newsletter strategies for Journalists, at Emory University in Freelance Writing and Proofreading & Copy Editing. Before her relocation to the United States, Ruksana worked several years in corporate communications, editorial, and content management. She is now based in Los Angeles, California, and has previously lived in Atlanta, Georgia.
1. What got you into travel writing?
I was born in India, raised in Oman and now call the United States home so curiosity about other cultures has always been strong. Shorter road trips gave way to longer international journeys and I’ve always loved taking notes, pictures, learning more about the people and places, and sharing those stories. One editor early in my journalism career assigned me local travel stories and it all grew from there. I was able to then work with destinations and venues globally and so it continues now with my magazine Traveler and Tourist.
2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
Too many places to visit, too little time to experience. Given the chance, I would love to spend extended periods of time in every city in the world to truly grasp the essence of the region but most times it is a very quick visit with multiple experiences squeezed into a very short time and I can only hope that I do true justice to bringing those stories to life on paper or on screen when I finally get down to expressing everything I experienced into words and images.
3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
My iPhone. It has become a necessity to take notes, record information or background sounds, shoot images, contact folks, check my mail, post to social media while on the go, and let’s not forget the gazillion apps I use on there to organize everything from travel and shopping to finances and business planning. When I am on the road, I tend to wear my phone crossbody in a Keebos phone holder so my hands are free and I never lose my phone!
4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
That’s a tough one, there’s too many to choose from. One of the most unusual and memorable was a flightseeing glacier tour at Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory, Canada. It was a road trip to learn more about First Nations history and the flightseeing was a spur of the moment decision. Initially, I was scared when I saw the size of the little craft but once we got high up, I could not stop taking pictures, adoring the expanses of white all around and feeling truly grateful for the experience.
5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
My search for a travel journalism community brought up NATJA. I asked around and heard the camaraderie and community resources are great so here I am! Being a full-time freelance journalist, writer and editor can be a lonely experience, especially if you are someone that does enjoy company and community. Places like NATJA make that engagement and involvement a possibility, more so during the last year and a half of the pandemic when everything moved online.
6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Always make the ask. The worst you will hear is a no or silence but you took the initiative to find out a piece of information you did not have before – whether that’s a story pitch, an introduction to connect, an offer to collaborate, a request to interview – whatever the case may be. Stop waiting until you have enough experience or clips or connections or other obstacles you create in your own path before even making the first move toward your aspirations.