I have been a travel writer for more than two decades and support a family on my earnings as a full-time blogger, editor, and occasional freelancer. I am the author of five travel advice books, including Travel Writing 2.0 and A Better Life for Half the Price. I am frequently quoted in the major media as a travel expert, have won multiple writing awards, and am the editor of the highly regarded webzine Perceptive Travel. I am also the editor of the Nomadico newsletter for working travelers.
1. What got you into travel writing?
I was setting off on a year-long round-the-world trip and was looking for a way to earn some money along the way. So I started pitching to magazines, newspapers, and trade publications. I got a few assignments from each category and then just kept at it over the years. I’ve been full-time since 2006, supporting a family and putting a kid through college.
2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
It’s not as challenging as it used to be because I mostly run my own show now as a publisher, which has evened out the earnings roller coaster a good bit. The challenge is prioritizing all the work from all the hats we wear. Some weeks I could probably work 24/7 and still not get everything finished. Thankfully I’ve got some helpers so I do get plenty of sleep.
3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
Besides the obvious tools of the trade, I need a good sun hat for my bald head and I always bring my Kindle reader.
4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
So many have been memorable that it’s hard to pick one. Two cool experiences that not many people do though: a week-long hiking trip through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and an overland trip from Uyuni in Bolivia to San Pedro Atacama in Chile, through the desert.
5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
I think someone else I knew was in it and referred me to the organization, tagging it as the friendliest writers’ org out there. I went to the Little Rock convention way back when and learned some things that helped me later. I’ve stuck with it ever since.
6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Do some freelancing to get the money flowing at first or hold onto your day job for at least two more years because it takes that long (at least) for a travel blog to really start paying off. This is not an industry for the impatient. If you do start a blog, don’t make it a general travel one. The more specialized, the better if there’s an audience out there for that cares about that niche.